In honor of Sex and the City’s opening weekend, I thought I’d post about “chick lit.” While I don’t necessarily agree with naming a genre of books geared toward women, about women in the workplace, in relationships, etc., a semi-insulting name as “chick lit,” it is what it is. The term’s been out there for probably 12-15 years now, and many people understand it to encompass all books with titles similar to: Confessions of a Twenty-Something Woman Looking for Mr. Right in the City While Shopping on Her Lunch Break from Her Menial Job at a Publishing House.
I’ve definitely read my fair share of these types of books, those by the usual suspects of Jane Green, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. To go along with my Summer Reads post in a way, they’re easy, quick, mindless, entertaining and usually pretty funny. However, many are forgettable. When I thought of the idea for this post, I tried to think of all the chick lit books I’ve read. Impossible. I searched Amazon and saw some familiar covers and titles, but I couldn’t tell you what they were about. I’m sure I could guess, and I wouldn’t be far off—the themes remain the same.
Some great books unfortunately get a reputation as chick lit just because they’re about women for women readers, in turn not getting the credit they deserve. Also, some authors come out with great debuts, yet don’t deliver with their following novels. For example, I really enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada. Unfortunately the response to Lauren Weisberger’s follow-ups has been less than flattering. In the same manner, I also thought The Nanny Diaries was very entertaining, but McLaughlin and Kraus’ Citizen Girl? Well, I made it through two awful chapters and returned it to the library.
Even Helen Fielding’s subsequent attempts seem to be cursed. Love Bridget Jones’s Diary. That’s another book I’m happy to read again; a movie I own. I think this was probably one the groundbreakers when it comes to the swoop in of female-based fiction. Even Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was a decent, entertaining sequel. However, Cause Celeb? Again, returned to the library because I had no interest in finishing it.
One author who I think falls under chick lit, but continues to put out good books is Jennifer Weiner. I’ve read several of her books—In Her Shoes, Little Earthquakes, Goodnight Nobody—and while they highlight similar themes as the books above, they dig a little deeper into important issues, such as loss of a child, inattentive husbands, meany moms at the playground, infidelity, weight issues, etc. For that reason, Weiner’s books are more memorable than most. Not fabulous, but good reads all around.
A different type of series that may fall under chick lit is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly and so on), about a female bounty hunter and her goofy shenanigans. I ate up this series several years ago—great books to read while sitting at a slow summer job—but after a while, around To the Nines, they all started sounding the same. However, a fun group of books all the same, especially for newbies to the series.
The other possible groundbreaking chick lit author would have to be Candace Bushnell—the woman who started the franchise many females will be celebrating this weekend, Sex and the City. While I love the show and will be at the theater opening night, I actually never read the book. But I did read 4 Blondes, which I give a big thumbs down to, and which has kept me from cracking open any others of her books.
So, after this long-winded post, I ask: How do you feel about the term “chick lit”? What are your favorite guilty pleasures in the genre? What books in your mind don’t deserve to fall under the genre title? Or, what chick lit books do you just hate?