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Books Read in 2016: ‘Beyond Heaving Bosoms’ by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan #amreading

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beyond Heaving BosomsBeyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels
by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:
We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a “special place” where we store them. Let’s face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what’s with all the shame?

Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan — the creators of the wildly popular blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books — have no shame! They look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of romance novels and tackle the hard issues and questions:

— The heroine’s irresistible Magic Hoo Hoo and the hero’s untamable Wang of Mighty Lovin’

— Sexual trends. Simultaneous orgasms. Hymens. And is anal really the new oral?

— Romance novel cover requirements: man titty, camel toe, flowers, long hair, animals, and the O-face

— Are romance novels really candy-coated porn or vehicles by which we understand our sexual and gender politics?

With insider advice for writing romances, fun games to discover your inner Viking warrior, and interviews with famous romance authors, Beyond Heaving Bosoms shows that while some romance novels are silly — maybe even tawdry — they can also be intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous, just like their readers!

My Review:
Even though I didn’t actually finish reading this, I’m still giving it a three-star rating because it does have good information in it. I just got tired of reading stuff about the genre that I already know (I had to read several books full of critical essays by academics and authors who are experts in the romance genre in grad school, and then write a thesis of my own about it)—and I got tired of the overuse of foul language.

Now, I can curse with the best (worst) of them when the mood strikes (or when something else strikes and causes pain). But I feel like the authors of this book undermined their purpose—and their authority on the subject—by being too flippant and by lacing the prose with unnecessarily “shocking” language. I understand that being conversational and flippant, while also celebrating the romance genre and its readers, is what the Smart Bitches made their name doing on their blog. But there’s quite a difference in reading one blog post a day and trying to read a few hundred pages of it. Plus, I think they’ve toned this down a bit on the blog—I don’t recall reading anything on the SBTB blog since I started reading it a couple of years ago that matches the level of cursing I found in this book.

But if the language doesn’t bother you, and you haven’t read a ton of other critical tomes exploring the subject of the romance genre, then you might want to check this out.

If you are interested in reading more serious/academic critical writings on the Romance genre, here are some suggestions:

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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