I have a significant issue with the negative connotations associated with the Chick Lit genre and, in particular, those stemming from the media who are constantly foretelling the "death of chick lit."
From my observations as a fan of the genre who also tweets, Facebook's and blogs chick lit content, it still certainly has a strong place in the book market, and has its fans who will always be more than happy to read "chick lit".
Unsurprisingly, people automatically assume several things when they hear the term "chick lit" -- pink, girly covers, idealistic female authors, stories about women falling in love with men, 'happily ever after' endings and light, fluffy reads.
In reality, as someone who reads roughly 150 chick lit books a year, I can whole-heartedly disagree with those assumptions and I hope to dispel some inaccurate perceptions.
I think it is the term itself is part of the problem. "Chick lit" is similar-sounding to "Chick flick" -- which is indicative of a sweet, soppy and romantic film which involves two people who end up falling in love with each other.
Furthermore, the adjective "chick" indicates it is a female-dictated genre, thus completely alienating male readers from its potential fan base.
While the primary market being targeted is women, this should not mean that men need to be put off from reading a first-class literary work. From what I have read in the genre in the last few years, the books are grittier than you'd expect, the authors aren't afraid to tackle more controversial topics, they cover a range of ages from the young women we expect these books to be based around, through to more mature women, and they do not always give us the happy endings you might expect.
I've read chick lit books dealing with infidelity, assisted suicide, death, infertility, adoption, murder and domestic violence.
Why should women be embarrassed to be seen reading chick lit? Those that make judgmental remarks about people who read chick lit clearly have never read an emotional rollercoaster of a novel from the likes of Elizabeth Noble or Jojo Moyes, experienced the laughter and realistic tales of Sophie Kinsella or Milly Johnson, nor the edgy and shocking tales woven by Dorothy Koomson, or the fabulous twists and turns contained within one of Melissa Hill's novels.
Bookstores should certainly not be afraid to stock chick lit, and promote the fact as well. I was disgusted to read that a popular British bookstore is to drop the term 'Women's fiction' after two, yes two, women decided to complain about the "pink fluffiness" and how they were offended by it.
My response? Don't buy it. Just because two women decide on behalf of the entire female population that a category isn't valid, does not make it so.
I, for one, enjoy going into a bookshop and seeing the bright, fun covers of chick lit, that stand out amongst the more serious titles, and I know what I'm looking for on the shelf too. Women who love chick lit often go into a book shop to seek out the latest release from favourites such as Kinsella, Jill Mansell, Jenny Colgan and more, so why should we be denied our right to buy the books we like because it MIGHT offend someone else?
Also, why should we be afraid to call a spade a spade? Why can't we name it "women's fiction", because that is what it is -- the target market is women. I don't want to sit down after a hard day at work, and read a violent crime thriller, or the tale of someone who has been abused since they were a child.
I want to read a story that is well written, has realistic and likeable characters that I can relate to, going through things that again I relate to or know about, and I'm going to be happy reading.
I don't know of many authors who don't like their work being classified as 'chick lit', or even 'women's fiction', and those that claim this are clearly kidding themselves.
It's a genre that has proved that it has selling and staying power - many of the big publishers have subsidiaries dedicated to just women's fiction, there are countless blogs and sites out there devoted to the genre, and readers who will always pick a chick lit book over any other - and I'm proud to be one of them.
Long live Chick Lit.
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