Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chick Lit: A Personal Love Story

Before we get too off track here, this is not where I tell you all about me and my boyfriend's romance. Nope. This is actually the post where I tell you all about why I love chick lit, what I think chick lit is, and how I believe it is often misunderstood. This post came about because a couple of weeks ago I categorized a book as chick lit that some people didn't agree with me was chick lit. That's totally fine. I do know that when I put things out here, people may disagree, and that's half the fun. I love a good discussion. So here's an opportunity for another! 

I first came to find chick-lit in high school and as I was entering college. It could not have been a more perfect match! As I remember it, my mom sent me Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. The cover with those eyes staring out at me. This was before the days of all of the pink and purple covers people. Yep this cover was white and black and orange and it had eyes. I remember thinking is this a scary murder book? Because I do not want a scary murder book. Also, my mom doesn't read those so what the heck is she doing sending me a scary murder book? But then I opened it and inside was a funny, insecure, neurotic, totally relateable woman who made me laugh and I was reading about something I'd never read before really. A women obsessing about men and weight and cigarettes and alcohol consumption with friends just like real women do? This is rocking my world. I have to find more! But where? This wasn't a 'type' of book I had heard of before.

Apparently in England it was. Then I was turned onto Watermelon by Marion Keyes. I remember reading this the summer before entering college. A novel about a woman left by her husband who is now pregnant. In a joking tone. This is awesome. Not because it's a laughing matter but because it's how you would deal with a real life matter. You would make lemonade out of lemons or you would go crazy. Or at least that's how I am.

From there, I found Melissa Banks, Lisa Jewell, Anna Maxted and those all kept me busy through college. Oh sure, I was also reading the classics for school as well as fascinating modern books as well but you see, chick lit is what I read when I need to smile. When things aren't going my way, or when I just need a laugh. When I don't get the guy I want to read about someone who does and in college this was perfect.

Then real life had to start and I got a job and reading books about women who were plucky and stumbled through jobs was perfect and as I grew up and got a serious boyfriend and perhaps became perceived as an 'adult', sure my reading choices matured too but I still read chick lit. All the time. I think I always will. I think chick lit can grow up too. Like any genre, any good genre, and we've got our haters, but chick lit, I think is good, you can read chick lit about mature womenwomen in their 30s trying to get a guy, divorced women dealing with a new lifeempty nesters, etc. all with pizazz and humor.

So clearly to me, chick lit is books about women, usually by women, for women. Often cushioned with humor, the idea is that they deal with the topics many of us face throughout our lives in a more easily digestible manor than some of the heavier books that are out there. I think the reason it is often misunderstood is because it is deemed as lighter fare. Therefore books that are considered lighter, often don't get as much credit. Well, I think they deserve plenty of credit because a book that can make you smile or laugh when you are having a crap day is an awesome book. That book that is like an old friend because you turn to it over an over again, that to me is what chick lit is. 

It's totally cool to me if you don't like chick lit because I don't like every single genre out there either. That's what's great about this world. There are lots of different opinions and lots of different types of books. For me, if I could just change one thing about this genre, it would be a little less pink on the covers ;)

So dish, if you are a chick-lit lover, name a book or author I need to try!

Here are some top chick-lit reads of my own from the past year (all titles link to my reviews):
2. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
3. She's Gone Country by Jane Porter
4. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
5. Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell
6. Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee
7. Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
8. The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle
9. There's Cake in my Future by Kim Gruenenfelder

5 comments:

  1. Hi! I agree, this is a wonderful post and explains so much about why the Chic Lit genre did so well. I say "did" because unfortunately, like bubblegum and disco, the term Chic Lit as a term has gotten a bad rap. Years ago many literary agents decided that Chic Lit was dead, that they wanted something more sophisticated and so did the readers. WRONG. The themes and honesty you described in this blog are exactly what the female reader is starving for. Yes, calling current works that fall into this category and do well "Chic Lit" get's poo pooed by the cool folks who proudly stand on the "Chic Lit is Dead" bandwagon. It's not dead, it's alive and well and pushing its boundaries under a new name ... Women's Fiction. Chic Lit, Wom Lit, whatever ... it's still rock 'n roll to me!

    Deb Riley-Magnus

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  2. Great post! I haven't read a lot of chick-lit, but I LOVED Bridget Jones's Diary - it was the first in the genre I read too. That list has expanded my TBR size further :D Thank you!

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  3. Chick lit is my favorite too. :) So fun!

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  4. I love chick lit and I probably always will. I too feel like my taste in chick lit has changed with age. As a teenager, I was reading YA chick lit that focused on the strange world of heartache and love. Today I read chick lit that is about women finding themselves in the real world. And I'm sure eventually I will mature even more and be reading chick lit about motherhood, ect. I love how versatile the genre is and how real it feels to me being able to read a character that I completely relate to.

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