Earlier this week, I went to NYU’s Fales Library, which holds a fiction collection that is particularly strong from mid-18th century to today. The 2011 Conference for the International Association For The Study of Popular Romance will be held there, just prior to RWA’s 2011 New York Conference in late June.

So worth coming in early if you’re academically minded and also attending RWA 2011.

But I digress.

The Library’s Head Librarian took me and IASPR’s President, Sarah Frantz, into the stacks to see some of the collection. And, OMG, we got to touch a first edition of Jane Austen‘s Mansfield Park. The book was a lot smaller than books today, and was packaged in a few volumes. Running your hand over the type, you could feel the raised type. Very cool.

And I’m not one to geek out over such things, but looking at the book, at is size, and print and all, I could definitely picture one of our bluestocking heroines reading it, her head bent over to peer at the pages. It’d be small enough to hold in one hand and turn the pages with the other, and discreetly titled enough to hide what she was reading if it was necessary.

So duringthis busy holiday season, let’s all take a moment and sneak away to re-enact our favorite heroines’ favorite pastimes, and open a book and lose yourself for just a bit. It’s research, you see!