Shoes, Romance, And Art: A Reader Walks With The Books She Loves

Jun 10, 2013

Longtime readers know that one of my favorite pop-culture blogs ever invented is Smart Bitches Trashy Books, which offers a home for romance readers (who are legion) to both love their books and laugh at their books. It's a community of enthusiasts, which is why its chief, Sarah Wendell, was the natural ally of a graduate student named Rudi, who made an art project that Sarah immediately gave a simple, evocative title when displaying it on her site: "The Most Awesome Shoes In The Universe."

They are heels, decoupaged with tiny copies of real romance novels, with pink trim at the sole. And they're not for display — they're for wearing.

At first glance, the shoes just seem like the most explosively darling display of whimsy you will ever see in your life, and they are that, certainly. They're made with great care and love, you can tell, and while decoupage shoes are a fairly common craft project (try an image search for "decoupage shoes"), these are something special.

And what really caught my attention was Rudi's "statement," which laments that romance readers are so often literally judged by the covers of their books. Rudi says, "By taking an object that holds a tradition of femininity and sexuality, and covering it in images from romance covers I created a work that allowed me to perform and celebrate my love of romance novels anywhere I went in an act of decorative subversion."

There's a particular charm in these, for me, because women's fiction has become so tied up in images of shoes — many of these covers are more traditional romance, but more contemporary romance (and other fiction marketed to women) is absolutely crawling with covers that prominently feature shoes. To mash up romance fiction and shoes is particularly pointed, and great, and delicious.

These shoes are cute, but they're not only cute — they're also a display of defiant enthusiasm, of genre-reader pride, of gentle good humor, and of an incredibly distinctive fashion sense, because come on, those are great shoes.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit