I was doing research for my Regency romance and looking at fashion plates of the times. There are tons of them available online, and in many of them, a lady is reading a book. It seems it was a fashionable occupation for a lady. Below is one such a plate, from 1801. What is interesting, is that the fashion magazine this plate came from - Costume Parisien - was created by Pierre de La Messangere in 1797 and lasted until 1839. It produced as many as 3,624 hand colored engravings.
Napoleon fought his wars, invaded countries, created and lost his empire, soldiers died and killed in battles, but fashion went on as usual.