Women’s Fiction

Beach Read

Chick Lit

However you label it, I love a book about women who don’t technically do extraordinary things, yet are mothers or childless- married, divorced, widowed or forever single- rich or poor- corporate execs or struggling artists…just normal women…

You get the gist…

I like books that are fairly easy to read, the conflict is fairly benign, and normal people get to tell normal stories.

I like to read about the kind of people that I am likely to come across in my life. This doesn’t mean that these are the only types of books I read- far from it- I read across many genres. But I almost always have one of these types of books in my “Currently Reading” pile on Goodreads.

But anyway-

Light reads aimed at a female audience: Not even vaguely can be considered literary fiction. There probably aren’t reader discussion questions in the back…You get the idea about the type of book I’m talking about…

So why, in these sorts of light reads, do the authors choose to quote from very heady books?

For example I am reading an atrocious book now. It’s set in a fictionalized Muslim country and while I have no doubt it’s supposed to be about how women are treated (heavy topic), it’s really a light read. The sentences are trite. The descriptions are tedious. The conflict is manufactured and so predictable my puppy could plot it out…

Yet, the author chooses to head each chapter with a beautiful quote by Rumi…

I’ve read beach reads where the author quotes heavyweight authors- Hemingway- Fitzgerald- Faulkner are quoted as the heroine is shopping for sunglasses. Where poems by Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson are cited while someone is mixing margarita’s…

Why?

Why do these authors feel the need to have their characters quote things from the PBS reading list?

Are they trying to show how smart they are?

Are they trying to tell the reader that they are just writing these light fiction works to pay the bills as they pen the Great American Novel?

or

Are they just big giant book nerds who have degrees in English Lit?

I know I have been known to throw out a quote or two from books or movies or whatever. There are certain things I remember, and seem to fit certain situations well. How many times do I find a quote somewhere and blog about it? Last week for those not counting…

However…

Does the reader of a casual beach read want to read quotes or references to books that they may or may not know?

Especially given that a novel is usually not a forum for discussion?

What do you think when an author quotes something in a novel that is seemingly out of place with the genre, style or plot of a novel?

In casual conversation, how often do you quote Shakespeare?

When is the last time you read aloud a Walt Whitman stanza while out with friends?

How often do literary quotes enter your day to day?

Do you want to read them when you are reading a pleasurable, light read?

Lay on, MacDuff…

49 thoughts on “Insert Quote Here

  1. I enjoy a beach read, too. I’m on my third Elin Hilderbrand book in the last two weeks as we speak. The light reads are helping me cope with all the changes in my life right now. They bring back the relaxing feelings of summer at the beach with my kids. They’d be in the water, and I’d be sitting on the sand with a book. I am not a fan of the literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter, if they seem totally out of place.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I don’t think it does. It seems contrived or pretentious. I also read Julia Cameron books and enjoy the quotes she has on each page. It’s a much better fit in non fiction books designed to inspire creativity. Have you read Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way” or her other books?

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yes. And I agree. Certain books or scenarios are perfect for quotes. I read Simple Abundance every day and SBB often uses quotes, but they’re totally inline with what’s she’s talking about

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t mind when an author uses literary quotes in their books. I just want the text to live up to the quote. There was one book I read where the author quoted the Book of Revelations in the epigraph. I initially thought, ‘Wow! This is going to be some amazing stuff!’ and it ended up being disappointing overall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. See? That’s exactly it. In the book that quotes Rumi, you think you’re getting a soulful, thought provoking book. But in reality you’re getting a book of trite revelations

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s like the Tom Hanks’ movie Apollo 13..James Lovell, the actual commander of the mission, when asked about it, said he enjoyed the movie “but there was no swearing on my ship.” I know that many films add swear words simply to gain the -13 after the PG..but again, if you’re a purist and you know the words don’t serve a purpose other than that..why add it?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Exactly! If it doesn’t enhance a story leave it out. We add things because we think they add a level of gravitas, but all they do is muddy the waters

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yup. In this case, the swearing took away from the veracity of the story as the commander explained that swearing wasn’t allowed on his “ship.” So in Hollywood’s desire to escape the often fatal” PG” rating, they added something that actually made the story less authentic.. but back to Bed Bath & Beyond..did they ever find the perp?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ok. Two books. Dear Edward and The Midnight Library. When you read the blurb you might think they are going to be heavy or depressing. But they were the most life affirming books I read last year….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Personally, I like quotes. I rarely remember them, and when I do and want to use them, I always have to look them up, but why the heck not! Do they add depth? I mean how muddy can the waters get within the shallow end of light reading, especially those that have gratuitous sex thrown in! Okay, that was a visual I didn’t need. Also, a pinch of something thought-provoking is kind of like an interesting flavor or spice in a simple dish/dessert/drink. So think of it as the extra chocolate sprinkles on a yummy, easy-to-drink milkshake. 🙂 Mona

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it totally depends. When I’m reading a light beach read, to have a character quote Nietzche (which actually happened in a book I read recently) and the other respond back with Nietzche, is pushing it

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, LA. While I quote, um, well, not that often, I do use quotes, mmmm, probably weekly in my writing. Different type of writing, however, from what you are referencing. I can write that I am not a fan of out-of-place quotes. When they work, they work; and, when they don’t, well, they really, don’t. Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Labels are dodgy. I personally feel the need for different books for different moods and even life phases – there have been busy and down times where I have clung to lighter reads and familiar authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TBH, I skim over quotes at the beginning of chapters for the most part. There haven’t been many in the books I read (which are mostly women’s fiction, suspense, romance/suspense combos, and the like). The Witness by Nora Roberts, I believe had a few quotes in those separations with like Book 1 and Book 2 sections in her novels, and they seem to fit. It was either in that book of hers or another one I’ve read recently, Undercurrents. I preferred The Witness. I don’t use quotes in my chapters. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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