Shortform Reads: A Secret Love for Regency Romance

What genre does Ellie refuse to read? What book caused her to make huge changes in her life?

Ellie is from the UK and is a Team Editor and Narrations Manager here at Shortform. She’s a huge history buff and has some pretty eclectic reading tastes.

Our Interview With Ellie

Here’s what Ellie had to say about Regency romance novels, her toxic reading trait, and more.

What’s your favorite book?

I’m a huge fan of classic—especially gothic—literature, and my favorite book flip-flops between The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I love the first because it’s a cool story-within-a-story, and it’s also considered an early feminist work of literature. I love the latter because it’s so atmospheric, and Mrs. Danvers is such a well-written creepy character.

What are you reading these days?

At the start of 2022, I made a commitment not to buy any new books until I’d read everything currently unread on my shelves and Kindle, and it’s leading to some pretty eclectic reading habits right now! I recently finished Splendid by Julia Quinn, a pretty cheesy Regency romance. I’m about to read People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield, a historical thriller about a woman who suspects her husband is Jack the Ripper.

If you could have a dinner party with any three authors—dead or alive—who would they be and why?

1) Jane Austen—her books are so witty, and I bet she’d be a hoot.

2) Philippa Gregory—she’s my favorite historical novelist, and I actually referenced her work in my MA thesis, so I’d love to chat about that.

3) Barack Obama—he just seems so dang cool.

What’s your favorite genre?

I love anything that has a “historical” flavor to it—classics that were written centuries ago, historical fiction, historical romance, even historical non-fiction if I’m feeling fancy! I’m drawn to anything history-related because it’s always been a huge passion of mine. If I hadn’t become a writer and editor, I’d have become a historian.

Are there any book genres or tropes that you dislike or refuse to read?

I really hate horror and particularly gory crime novels. When you have the killer combination of chronic anxiety and a vivid imagination, they’re best avoided.

What’s your favorite way to read a book?

See, part of me wishes I could say I love an old-fashioned physical copy. But for some reason, I find it so much easier to get through books in Kindle format. I think it’s because my toxic trait is flipping to the end of a book—ruining the ending for myself and consequently giving up on the book—and it’s a lot harder to do that on Kindle.

What book do you think everyone should read in their lifetime?

Untamed by Glennon Doyle. That book transformed the way I treat myself and the way I allow myself to be treated by others. While some elements are pretty specific to Doyle’s life—it being a memoir—some of the messages about confidence, self-awareness, and removing toxic influences from your life are pretty universal.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jane Austen, all three of the Brontë sisters—although I have a soft spot for Anne—and … my granddad! He wrote and published a children’s book a few years ago, and I think that’s super cool. It’s truly never too late!

How have your reading tastes changed over the years?

My reading tastes have stayed remarkably consistent! I started reading classics and history-themed stuff pretty young, and I never stopped! I did go through an unfortunate Twilight phase, but we don’t talk about that.

Was there a specific book that sparked your love of reading?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading, to be honest! I think the earliest thing I remember reading and really loving was the first Harry Potter book—probably the same for much of my generation, I imagine!

Do you have any guilty pleasure books?

Definitely Regency romance novels. They’re so trashy, and the lead characters are often terminally stupid—which is how they end up in their various romantic misunderstandings—but I just can’t stop reading them!

Have any books you’ve read caused you to make any life changes or to change or develop any habits?

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I’ve pivoted to a more minimalist lifestyle. I now buy only things I’m 100% sure I’ll use and love—instead of getting swept up in usually emotion-driven shopping sprees—and I did a huge declutter of my existing belongings. My house feels so much less cluttered now, and it’s amazing how much more positive the space feels!

What are your favorite book adaptations?

The 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is just phenomenal in every way. Also the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Both are very faithful to their respective source materials, have strong casts, and just capture the warmth and humor of Jane Austen’s books.

Are there any lesser-known books that you’ve read that you want others to know exist?

Through a Kindle Daily Deal, I discovered this historical novelist called Nicola Cornick who writes timeslip novels. Basically, all of them have a time-travel element where a character either comes from or ends up in the past. Her book The Phantom Tree was particularly gripping!

At Shortform, how do you go about working on a book that has viewpoints you don’t agree with?

This has been a struggle for me, as I’m quite opinionated and stubborn! But, I try to tell myself that my job isn’t to write about what I think is right; it’s to purely objectively communicate a source’s ideas. I imagine I’m writing a book report, or a Wikipedia page—somewhere where partiality really wouldn’t fly.

Are there any books you had to read for Shortform that you thought you wouldn’t like and ended up loving?

I remember picking Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg as my first book simply because I recognized the author’s name—I didn’t really have high hopes for enjoying it. But, it turned out to have some really great productivity tips and some fascinating case studies!

What are your favorite books in the Shortform library?

As someone who’s perpetually distracted, Indistractable is a favorite of mine. It has some really simple yet effective strategies for focusing. Biased is also both fascinating and a really important read—it really opened my eyes to how pervasive racial bias is in our society.

  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  • The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick
  • Indistractable by Nir Eyal
  • Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

About the Series

Here at Shortform, we want to give our employees names and faces so you can get to know the people who make the magic happen. That’s why we’re doing this series where we interview our employees and share their thoughts and opinions. You can check out more employee interviews here.

Shortform Reads: A Secret Love for Regency Romance

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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