Ever had one of those frustrating weeks where you just don’t get to curl up with a book as much as you’d like to? Yeah, me too. My day job pretty well ate my life last week and had me sitting in traffic all over northern Virginia as I went from appointment to appointment. On the plus side, I did get to catch up on blog reading in between all of the mad dashes and I found some interesting stuff over the past few days.

I like to read Jezebel every now and again because some of their writers do offer useful perspectives on women’s lives and they can be very supportive of women’s choices, history, literature and so on — except when they’re not. My general reaction to reading this article which somehow takes the idea of Jane Austen having both highbrow and lowbrow appeal and conflates it to the notion that her books are basically well-written Twilight. The author also takes care to get in a few slaps at modern romance authors, making sure to note that, “it goes without saying that Austen is way wittier and more talented than her modern day counterparts.”

Personally, I love Jane Austen’s books because I think she writes very observantly about romance as well as about a whole host of other things – which is, by the way, what some of our very best modern romantic fiction authors do. Some of the comments on that Jezebel piece are excellent, and even though I don’t agree 100% with everything the author says, I did enjoy reading this blog which unpacked that Jezebel article somewhat. I appreciated that because the Jezebel article drove me nuts not so much because I disagreed with the author’s conclusion but because the analysis to support it seemed so shallow.

And following links around that whole Jane Austen dust-up led me to this gem. This blog’s somewhat lengthy exploration of the idea of romance novels as a writing underground intrigued me. Having seen RWA tighten the reins and turn unwelcoming to those who do not fit what appears to be the organization’s narrowing definition of the genre, I found it refreshing to read this author’s perspective as she celebrates what she sees as a wide-ranging genre where an author can have “an enviable freedom within which she may permit her imagination to run riot.” There’s actually a lot of good stuff in that celebration of romance novels.

If you haven’t seen Sarah’s Romance Novel Reader Workout, check it out. It is hilarious. I somehow let a friend talk me into running my first-ever 5K next month, so I’ve been spending a fair amount of time at the gym. The other day I took my current assigned review book with me and I swear I thought I was going to die of leg lifts!

And then there was this fascinating exploration by Liz of how narrative can create identity, and how revelations to the reader and loss of privacy play into that. It’s a very thoughtful read.

And last, but definitely not least, this discussion of manners in history by Anne Gracie is wonderful reading. It will probably make me look at some of those Across the Tracks romance just a little bit more thoughtfully.

So, what good things have you read lately?

– Lynn Spencer