6 Books Everyone Needs To Read To Stop Using The Term Chick-Lit
May 16, 2017|Maria Suarez
“It’s a simple fact that one way of keeping women shut up is to call the things they love ‘fluff’.”
When I was in fifth grade I remember reading any new book that would arrive at the makeshift library of my school. One day one of my classmates saw the Babysitter’s Club novel on my desk and said I shouldn’t be reading it.
“It’s for older people.” I just stared at him not really understanding. So he decided to enlighten me,“my sister is thirteen and reads those. You’re not supposed to read things that are about people who are older than you.”
I think I nodded and said, “Okay,” but I didn’t stop reading it.
A few years later, when I was twelve I went to the bookstore to buy Less Than Zero and found myself having a similar talk with the bookseller.
“Is this for you?”
“Do you parents know you're buying this?”
I nodded, super confused since my mom was right next to me. To be fair, I might have gone overboard getting Brett Easton Ellis’ novel in seventh grade.
I’ve grown up hearing people telling me what I should and shouldn’t read. Honestly, I think most of us have an instance when someone has attempted to censor our interests. But I think the main one I currently see is when someone calls a work by a female author, featuring a female protagonist that is unapologetically female, Chick-Lit. Some choose to use the more politically correct "Women’s Fiction," which, for all its kid gloves, still feels like a slap in the face.
I once asked a fellow writer, male, what he considered to be Women’s Fiction.
“It’s that sort of cheesy story about some woman who can’t find love because she’s not much of a looker. But she eventually does meet him but he’s a bit of an idiot. You know, like a romantic comedy.” It was his response that made me decide to withhold my second question, which was if he’d ever read something from that genre.
Shakespeare wrote romantic comedies, didn’t he? I mean they were set in the Elizabethan era, so of course there wasn’t much mention of Jimmy Choo, boxed wine, and Netflix. But to call these kinds of stories superficial or commercial fiction, as if they’re only sold next to the tabloid magazines at the checkout, is to diminish their worth.
In 2015 author Catherine Nichols did an experiment regarding gender bias in the literary world. The queries she’d sent to 50 agents had only resulted in only two requests to read the manuscript. So she did a change in strategy: she sent the same query letter but under the name George Leyer, from an email account under that same name. That same day she received five responses, three asking for the manuscript. In the end, “George” was asked to send the manuscript 17 times, this because of the fact that a male writer, writing from the point of view of a female protagonist, would never dream of writing the horrid Women’s Fiction.
I myself have read plenty of books by male writers. Nothing astounding has happened to me. By this I mean that I haven’t stopped being a woman, or whatever people think will happen to a man reading a story written by a woman. The following books have been called Chick-Lit or Women’s Fiction based on their funny plots helmed by a female protagonist. Men, read them at your own risk… of enjoying them.
Let’s start with this story that not only has a female protagonist, but a male protagonist as well. This novel is about finding your purpose in life and never losing your wit, even after hitting a low. Heaven and Brady are neighbors, each going through their own personal crises. Heaven was a PR executive who ends up working as a waitress at a Thai dinner. Brady is trying to get his indie label going, but keeps failing. Eventually both join forces on a journey to Seattle to sell an idea to the CEO of Starbucks. There’s plenty of pop culture references along the way to keep you laughing as you follow these characters.
What happens when we let a little magic into our lives? The lives of three very different women intersect in this modern fairytale set in the American South. While someone could argue that this novel is full of estrogen, discovering your parents are only human, as well as the fact that getting to the truth comes with consequences, are themes every person can relate to, because life is a human rather than a gender issue.
Sometimes we need more help from the ones we love than we’re willing to admit. Lara, the main character in this story, is visited by the ghost of the great aunt she never knew. Dressed as a flapper as a memory of the time in her life when she was happiest, Sadie takes her niece on a wild goose chase to relive her best times and recover a piece of jewelry. Present and past collide and find they share more in common that they think.
Have you ever wanted something so much that it kept you awake at night? What if one day you drop the fantasy and actually quit your job to try and pursue your teenage dream? That’s exactly what Jenny sets out to do when she leaves everything to start a band that will make her into the rock goddess she’s meant to be. However, getting into the music industry is more complicated and murky than she imagined. When you're living dream, it’s not long before you find yourself in the middle of a nightmare.
Heather was a teenage pop star. Until one day she wasn’t, then she discovered all her money was gone as well. So now she has to start all over, working at a college dorm. It all seems like she might be able to find her way, but then the body is found. This is the story of finding your way, even when things don’t work out exactly how you planned.
In this day and age, when we’re all one embarrassing moment away from becoming Instafamous for all the wrong reason, trying to live up to who we think we are is not easy. Lizzie becomes a YouTube sensation after she is dumped by her boyfriend while she wears a Henry the Eighth costume. But rather than revel in her newfound celebrity, she’s still struggling to be taken seriously by those around her. This is the story of how your worst day can lead to a terrible reality that might just be the kick you need to find your purpose.
One thing to keep in mind is that the covers of novels written by women tend to have some cheesy image of a lady looking into the sunset on a beach somewhere or some sandals left by the doorstep. Do I need to remind you to not judge a book by it’s cover? Read them before you make your mind about them. You might find yourself surprised to find the one message you needed to go on or find a new path.