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Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  1,145 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name...

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

Paperback, 291 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Touchstone
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Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah WendellReading the Romance by Janice A. RadwayA Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela RegisThe Glass Slipper by Susan Ostrov WeisserWomen and Romance by Susan Ostrov Weisser
Nonfiction About Romance Fiction
1st out of 46 books — 10 voters
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareBlood Promise by Richelle MeadHunted by P.C. CastEvermore by Alyson Noel
Books for 2009
269th out of 578 books — 2,433 voters

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Community Reviews

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May 04, 2009 Tammy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, 2009-reads
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels is a hilarious and intelligent examination of the romance genre. It includes a brief history of the genre. An overview of commonly used tropes, plots, and cliches'. A comparison of Old Skool vs. New School, complete with flowchart. And predictions for future trends.

It's full of the snarky humor and clever insights that I expected, as well as serious essays and citings to famous works in the field of romantic academia.

It also cont
Nov 16, 2009 Eastofoz rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers who want to know about the general history of the romance novel
Recommended to Eastofoz by: Tammy
Shelves: non-fiction
Lots of talk about this book being rip-roaringly funny which it is -- some of the time. The “humor” gets a bit too crass and over the top more than once leaving you rolling your eyes saying ‘ok enough already’, but that’s all subjective and I’m sure there are people who love that kind of stuff. For me it was sort of like that 15 year old boy toilet humor that just gets old after you’ve heard it 25 times from the same 15 year old boy. That was one of my biggest “problems” with the book. Apart fro ...more
Apr 23, 2009 seton rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The good news is that for lovers of the Smart Bitches blog, it's the same irreverent snarky humor that we all know and love.

The bad news is that these are not blog posts but a book. And the book has a bit of a multiple personality.

There are games.
There are serious essays on the cultural aspects of all things in Romance Reading History with lots of citings to famous essays in the field of academic study of romances.
There are lists.
There are more games.
There is cover snark.
There are intervie
4.5/5 stars. This was an inane and silly guide to romances, albeit immensely funny at times. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing so hard I had tears at a few points. On the other hand, the humor in this book is definitely not for everyone, and it can be downright juvenile at certain points.

There was lots of surprises to this book. In addition to literary analysis, there was mad-libs, choose your own adventures, board games, coloring, and
Aug 09, 2010 Karla rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who love new romance over old
Meh. Maybe I'd have appreciated it a bit more if I was into the current romance trends and all that. I find the SMTB blog of erratic interest at best, anyway (omg, just shut up with the epub techno wankfests). The snark got old, and the same authors and titles mentioned over and over didn't show much breadth of opinions and options. In the end, it all seemed pretty narrow and shallow.

Plus there's the difficulty I have staying interested in ANY humor-based book. Not that I don't love the lulz, bu
Michelle R.
Apr 17, 2009 Michelle R. rated it it was amazing
5 stars, if you like that sort of thing. :)

This is an awesome book for romance novel fans or readers The Smart Bitches, which would be a huge overlap.

For critics of the genre and people who just don't get it, I imagine it's educational and might make them come away with a better upstanding, but this is -- first and foremost -- for readers in-the-know.

Why does it make a reader's heart go pitter-patter when a book is mention that she's read? Even more so when the book is praised. Since there are
May 24, 2009 Kathrynn rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the humor of the two authors throughout Beyond... They poked fun at the world of romance books (writing and reading) and justified the same. I found my eyes rolling at their less than stellar critique of the earlier romance books. Man, did they hit that bulls eye dead on.

The authors provide numerous book samples--made me realize how few books I've actually read. Neat interviews by Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Emma Holly and a few others.

This would be an excellent "source" book for someo
Jun 16, 2010 Gaijinmama rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh my gods, I kept getting weird looks from my family and from strangers on the train and in coffee shops because I kept snorting and giggling and guffawing all the way through this book!

Hats off to the Smart Bitches, these ladies not only made me laugh but also made me think, and more than once they made me shout, "Hells, yeah!" I particularly liked their strong stance against plagiarism and racism in the romance genre, and their sharp observations about the Seriously Screwed Up (but occasional
Apr 23, 2016 Giedre rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of articles and books that dismiss the genre, and some excellent academic examinations that subject the genre to a long-overdue analysis. Us? We’re here to throw a party for the genre—to celebrate its soaring successes as well as its appalling excesses, and to raise a beverage to the continued health and happiness of our favorite reading material.

Basically, Beyond Heaving Bosoms is Smart Bitches (of Trashy Books, duh) doing what they do so well—talking romance. Love for th
Sherwood Smith
This book had me cracking up so hard I nearly fell off my chair a couple of times. I did wish it delved more deeply into just what is so satisfying about romance reading for such an enormous variety of women across generations and socio-economic strata, but they are generous with mentions of more scholarly books, and in short, it's a delightful, in-your-face dare to diss romance just because women write it and read it.
Apr 13, 2009 Cynthia rated it liked it
I read it straight through, and some parts dragged, but it was fun overall. So much was on the mark.

Also, I don't really care what parts were boring, because you get the feel that the authors know and love the genre as much as you do (or the person that forced you to read the book does), so it's more like listening to your smart, bitchy, wordy (and often hilarious) friend ramble.

Parts I liked:

1. Old School vs New School flowchart - comprehensive and amusing

2. Summary of Old School was interesti
Damon Suede
Mar 31, 2011 Damon Suede rated it it was amazing
A sassy, savvy overview of romance as a popular genre. This book is based on the authors wry and much-trafficked website, but stretches beyond its online origins to become a kind of unpretentious, digressive lit-crit. Hilarious, informed, and consistently entertaining, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves the genre but maintains a sense of humnor about its excesses and unintentional in-jokes.

Apr 24, 2009 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Shannon , Shelley, thefourthvine,
My poor roommate. I keep sending her texts and emails saying things like, "I bought four new books today! ...I'm sorry?" I'm supposed to be catching up on my TBR shelf (shelves), but--it's a clever, hysterically funny, profanity-filled book on romance novels! I finally found it at a local bookstore today, grabbed it and a Mother's Day present for my mom (hi, mom) and a random Regency, and read it tonight after finishing The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love-Slave. (It seemed only appropriate.)

Anna Erishkigal
Dec 10, 2014 Anna Erishkigal rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
This book had some truly hilarious insights into romance as a genre which really made me stop and think about some of the tropes we weave into our stories.
Dec 13, 2015 Liralen rated it really liked it
So. I originally read this in 2011, because why not? And then in 2015 I decided to write an essay about romance novels for class, and I was doing research, so of course I turned back to this. The university library did not have a copy, so I requested one through interlibrary loan. Had to put in two requests, because the first one (through a local, less extensive, consortium of libraries) couldn't be filled. Not long thereafter, I received an email from somebody at the university library, informi ...more
Apr 07, 2013 Lee rated it it was amazing
I'm new to reading romance novels and I admit that I avoided anything that was even remotely marketed as "romance". Over the past few years, I've learned to distrust marketing genres and to stop judging books by their covers. The authors very delightfully play fun with all the "joys and woes of the genre", including the cover art. There are "Mad-Lib" style, fill-in the blank stories, a flow chart to help guide you through the differences between "Old Skool vs New Skool" romance novels, and a hel ...more
Viivika Tamm
Jun 16, 2016 Viivika Tamm rated it liked it
Shelves: huumor, non-fiction
Raamat armastusromaanide ajaloost ja olemusest. Seda kõike humoorikas-sarkastilises võtmes.

Kuigi raamatut oli naljakas lugeda, oli sarkasmi ja sõnademängu paljuvõitu. Armastusromaanide naeruväärsete külgede välja toomine pani äratundvalt pead noogutama. Ja tõsiselt järgi mõtlema, miks pagan ma üldse neid armastusromaane loen! Liigne analüüs ei mõju tundenaudingutele üldse hästi.
BJ Rose
I joined a challenge to read the books discussed in this book, so my main purpose in reading this book was to get a list of the books. I liked the way the authors traveled through the history of the romance genre, putting book titles in to emphasize each point. I felt the authors gave a good history of the genre, and some of the information was presented in a serious way. Much of the book was entertaining in a silly way, but there was way too much vulgarity for this reader! However, I did get my ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Shan rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, hilarity
This was fun to read and presented some interesting ideas but I'm not entirely sure it needed to be a book -- in fact, last night I took a break from the book and spent a most enjoyable hour perusing the archives of the authors' website (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), which was rather more satisfying.
Jan 03, 2016 Sonia rated it liked it
Shelves: ensayo
Divertidísimo, mordaz y lúcido estudio de la novela romántica por parte de las autoras de la web Smart Bitches, Trashy books.
Desde la absoluta adoración del género, se rien de los tópicos más ridículos a la vez que analizan las causas que lo convierten en el más leído (y el que tiene los seguidores más fieles).
Nov 04, 2014 Alexis rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alexis by: linda holmes
Shelves: nonfiction
The authors do two really important things here: first, they celebrate romances; and second, they criticize them. The book is both a defense of good romance novels, and a no-punches-held criticism of bad ones.

It’s this dual attitude that makes their commentary work. Their tongue-in-cheek-jokes and their more serious criticisms are coming from a place of love for the genre (or for the genre when it’s done well), not from a superior attitude that dismisses all romances as insipid.

To paraphrase t
Jul 13, 2010 Jessi rated it it was amazing
As a romance reader since my tween years, I truly appreciated this book. I was definitely a closet reader through my time as an English major, but I discovered a passion in myself to protect the reading preferences of all people in library school. In particular, I was influenced by a class I took about genre fiction, in which we had to read a book from each of the major genres. Many of the other library students were a bit on the snobby side against romance, and it was really the first time I st ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Meg rated it really liked it
I've long been an admirer (in a snort your coffee out of your nose sort of a way) of the "Smart Bitches Trashy Books" blog, so I was thrilled to find Beyond Heaving Bosoms in my Christmas Stocking. If you're look for an academic examination of the romance genre this book is not it. If you're looking for a reference work written by sharp, sincere and wickedly witty fans who are both passionate champions and open-eyed critics, look no further.

Written by two romance fans for romance fans, Beyond H
Jan 29, 2011 Tez rated it liked it
I can handle some of the sub-genres, but as a whole romance doesn't work for me. Not just because of the books, but also because of some of its Special Snowflake fans who like to play victim about how the romance genre is persecuted, or prejudiced against, or whatever. And thus they get so defensive. CHILLAX, PEOPLE!

I like the Smart Bitches, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, because unlike a lot of romance bloggers they don't absolutely fangirl over every romance book they read. They're quite forthco
May 17, 2013 Heidi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is one of my favorite blogs, and I'd been meaning to read this book for quite a while: I'm so glad I finally found the time. As usual, the Smart Bitches are profane and laugh-so-hard-your-drink-comes-out-your-nose funny, but more than that, they are smart, feminist, and right-on-the-money. Beyond Heaving Bosoms reviews the history of the romance genre, from "old skool" 1970s-80s era romance with its "alphole" heroes (alpha/asshole) who invariably rape the heroine so ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, writing
A hilarious read from the ladies at Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels, a new favorite website of mine. They do an excellent job of providing a very humorous overview of the history of romance novel. They make no apologies for loving romance novels and do a good job of debunking common complaints and concerns about the genre.

A few things bothered me at times, however.

* The constant use of cute little phrases like "man titty." The book has a very "insider" feel to it (as does the website). Crisp, hu
Ana Mardoll
Jan 02, 2013 Ana Mardoll rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Beyond Heaving Bosoms / 1416571221

I don't really read romance, but I love the writing styles of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan as seen on their website "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books". When one of my online friends mentioned they were reading this book, I couldn't snap up a copy fast enough, and I finished it in a day. It's that good.

This isn't just a book for romance fans, although I'm certain that romance fans will enjoy the heck out of it. But even for non-romance readers like me, it was eye-open
Jul 26, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If like me you're enough of a romance fan that you enjoy a periodic romance novel, yet you like a hefty dose of snark with your lovin', then you should absolutely pick up a copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels. This is the beloved child of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, better known as Smart Bitch Candy and Smart Bitch Sarah over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

What do you get if you look past the heaving bosoms? A fairly decent overview of the modern romance gen
Jan 02, 2010 Trin rated it liked it
The authors’ blog, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, is consistently entertaining; this book is...almost that. I liked the discussion of the history and evolution of the romance novel, but I wish there had been more analysis and less repetition. I also wish, well, that I could share more easily Sarah and Candy’s enjoyment of the genre. This really has nothing to do with the effectiveness of this book, but man. As much as I like the Smart Bitches blog, and as much as I enjoyed parts of this book, I sti ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Niki rated it it was amazing
smart bitches who run the blog that turned into this book often give the books they review C's. the list of A and B ratings is pretty small, so i don't want this 5 star to seem meaningless and like one girl giving other girls a good rating for getting their "babies" published. this really is a good book.

the authors strive to defend the genre to those who also enjoy the genre. their witty banter is enjoyable, and their breaking down of the romance genre useful when looking at the ways cultural ti
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Sarah Wendell is a transplanted Pittsburgher currently living in New York metropolitan area. By day she's mild mannered and heavily caffeinated. By evening she dons her cranky costume, consumes yet more caffeine, and becomes Smart Bitch Sarah of
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous pr
More about Sarah Wendell...

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“really, is there a ruder thing to do than put someone down based on what she reads? It’s a classist, obnoxious, and utterly grotesque use of energy.” 1 likes
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