I love chick lit.

I make no apologies.

I do not plan on turning in my feminist card. If someone made me, I would gladly give up feminism in favor of chick lit.

I like a story of a plucky woman who has gone through some sort of adversity. I like how she screws up but all things come out at the end. I like a happy ending.

Now, this does not exclude me from reading other types of literature. I can do sad and depressing with the best of them. The books that fall under these categories are traditionally better for book clubs. What book club doesn’t like to bond over tears?

But back to chick lit…

There are two authors I’ve been reading for over 20 years. Let’s call them Jennifer Red and Jane Hotdog. In the beginning I loved these authors. I read everything they wrote as soon as it came out in paperback. Sometimes, I even sprung for the hardcover. I kept my copies of these books.

These authors spoke to me.

It was as if they were reading my mind.

And as the years went on, these authors changed up their books. They were no longer writing about plucky women making little errors, losing their way and then finding their way back. They began to write about deep subjects. Adultery. Depression. Drug abuse.

Fine.

Anyone can write about anything.

However…

In my opinion, maybe, just maybe, writing about these subjects wasn’t really great for these authors. Maybe these authors weren’t really cut out for heavier fiction. Maybe these heavier books weren’t quite as good as the other lighter fare. I no longer enjoy the works of these authors as much as I once did.

It takes a really good writer to write a good chick lit book. You have to make the characters real. You need to make the situations somewhat realistic. You need to have a good sense of humor. These are all skills…skills that should not be undervalued just because the book is not Booker Prize worthy…

Just like writing a weightier tome has its own individual skillset.

Writers of different genres are all talented: they are just talented in different ways.

We tend to undervalue light in favor of heavy.

I don’t know why. Can’t we have both, assuming they are done well?

I’d much rather have a well executed “light” book instead of a poorly executed “heavy” book…I want to read the best that any genre has to offer.

Food for thought:

  1. Do you think publishers/agents direct best selling authors to write things that are in vogue, even if it means changing genres?
  2. What genres do you prefer?
  3. Do you think chick lit is a waste of time?
  4. Have you ever had an author that you love disappoint you with their latest work?
  5. Anything else that I touched on in this post
  6. Do we undervalue light in favor of heavy

I made a comment yesterday that seemed to devalue reposting or reblogging an older post. Alas, this sentiment did not come out the way that I intended. I apologize to anyone that reposts or reblogs their work sometimes. Just because I don’t like doing it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t. Keep on being you. Sorry for the inference!

LA

72 thoughts on “Lighten the Load

  1. I think that the authors changing their subjects probably have two different causes, depending on the case, where some are told to change by their editor, and some are just human and are bored with writing the same thing all the time. I used to read chic-lit until I reached the end of my forties, then I switched to the fantasy genre.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I agree with you, especially this statement: “Writers of different genres are all talented: they are just talented in different ways.” Although my favorite genres are short stories, literary fiction, historical fiction and narrative nonfiction, I’ve begun to read other genres and respect the talents of writers from these genres. I’ve read a few chick lits lately and they were thoroughly enjoyable, as well as modern romances. Also, it takes talent to write a thriller – you definitely need to know what you’re doing, and even the ones with plot holes keep me reading. I’ve also read a few Amish romances (Bonnet Rippers) and they were very well done. Great post!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. No. 1 definitely yes…publishers need to make money so they jump on the latest trend. That’s why we have an explosion of murder books about the first wife/second wife/ex wife getting even….blah, blah, blah. I love a good psychological thriller but not if the protagonist is the wife and/or either the victim or the suspect…..it’s like Gone Girl re-invented way too many times. No.2 – my tastes are quite eclectic. I read about 1/3 non-fiction on many different topics including medical, and the rest fiction. No.3 I do read some chick-lit, but not the Hallmark kind where the ending is too predictable. I think some chick-lit authors are a waste of time, but it’s the Reader’s choice – maybe something fluffy and lighthearted is just the kind of distraction they need at the moment. I say I’m over Elin Hildebrand, (her characters are annoying and they drink too much) but every summer I end up reading her latest……because it’s my beach read. No.4 Many times – most recently, Julia Cameron’s The Listening Path, which I blogged about in My Literary Salon, Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways (a 400 page disaster which defies description), and Frances Mayes one attempt at a chick lit novel, (sorry so bad I’ve blocked out the name). No.6. Yes, light is not valued as much and never wins any prestigious awards….the proof is in Oprah’s Book Club selections, most of which I refused to read for years as they were always so depressing. No.5 I suspect Jane Austen was chick-lit in her time…..but she’s still here 200 years later! A good book can live forever, regardless of genre.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. All excellent observations! Jane Austen was definitely chick lit during its time period…so yes…a book can be great despite its genre. Do you know what trend I’m noticing now? The twist being on the last page of a mystery….I wonder if they’re just setting authors up with multiple book contracts

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The light-heavy dichotomy brings to mind the idea of higher and lower pleasures, or, following Michael Sandel, the Shakespeare-Simpsons debate – the tendency of people to The Simpsons but say that Shakespeare is “better”. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, if you genuinely prefer The Simpsons to Shakespeare (and why not?) then you do not think Shakespeare is better. My opinion would be that “heavy” works get more lip-service but “light” works are, factually, preferred. This is the root of “guilty pleasures” isn’t it? Another idea straight from the cattle’s behind.

    As proof I offer you the highest grossing films of all time. Avatar, Avengers: Endgame, Titanic, Star Wars VII, Avengers: Infinity War. Now I wouldn’t say these are particularly “heavy”. Let’s take Endgame, since it’s most recent. The year that rocketed to the top of the box-office ‘Parasite’ won Best Picture: heavier, but the majority of people preferred to watch Endgame. ‘Parasite’ didn’t even break the top ten highest grossing films that year: they were all “light”.

    That’s not to say that I preferred Endgame, I didn’t (Infinity War was better for a start). It’s no secret that I do prefer works with greater depth , but I don’t make that distinction on the basis of genre. I read Eleanor Oliphant (like everyone else) and loved it. I read Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and found it lacking. I read a few pages of Twilight in high school and temporarily lost faith in the world for allowing writing of that quality to be published (then Fifty Shades of Gray happened…).

    My disinterest in the genre of a book probably stems from an experience in primary school. All of the girls in my class were raving about a book, over the course a few weeks every girl read it. It was Jacqueline Wilson’s Lola Rose. The boys of the class were, of course, interested; but they couldn’t bring themselves to read it because it was a “girl’s book”, complete with cartoonish lipstick on the front cover. Naturally I thought that was ridiculous, I read it, I loved it, if I ever encounter a copy in a charity shop now I will buy it and read it again.

    Intriguing topic as ever, LA.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Completely agree with all your sentiments. Some books are just worth reading- the genre doesn’t matter at all. Like movies: I loved End Game and I loved Parasite. I thought they were both excellent for what they were. Doesn’t mean one is “better”. And you’re right…what’s popular isn’t always best, and what’s unpopular isn’t always worthy I guess is the right word. Why we continue to decide which is “better” I have no idea

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m very much a mood reader, so I’ll jump from genre to genre. Chick lit is definitely one of the ones that are in my rotation, along with fantasy and some mystery/crime dramas and some other randoms ones occasionally tossed in that mix. I tend to really need the lighter, fluffier books after reading a deeper heavier book because there is only so much heaviness I can handle at once.

    Authors of chick lit have spent a lot of time fighting for legitimacy in the writing world. I don’t think so much that is from the publishers, but more from the general population or authors of other genres. My guess on change in writing of your example is that the change came from the author and not the publisher. Most publishers want the guaranteed money makers. When a proven author presents a change, that is a risk to the money stream and don’t always accept that kind of change. Often when an author wants to write something of a different nature than their norm, they have to take it to a different publisher. That said, I’m certain that there is some pressure on authors to write to the popular within a proven genre. I’m certain that depends on the specific author/publisher relationship.

    I have so few authors that seem to be my go to, that it isn’t often I’m disappointed in a new book by a favorite. It has happened in the past, but some of those were more about me just paying more attention to what was actually problematic writing than anything and realizing that I enjoyed aspects of what was on the page, the overall it wasn’t satisfying. Most often, when readers start to get disappointed in an author that they’ve like it is because the author tries to branch out and people generally don’t like change. They are reading an author for a reason and when that reason changes or goes away, they aren’t going to always be thrilled.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have so many authors whom I loved, that I don’t really enjoy anymore because they’ve gone so far off brand. I get that people get bored, want to go down a different path. As someone who has changed up her blog since the beginning, I understand the need to tweak or reinvent. However…sometimes you need to ask if something is working.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Great thoughts. I read just about anything! Except for horror!
    I am finishing a Chick Lit book now. Elin Hilderbrand. Have you read books by her before?

    I value light and heavy reading. They both serve a purpose!
    Some books by my favorite authors I haven’t liked as much as others, but I wouldn’t say I was disappointed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve read EH before. I like some of her books better than others, though I have no doubt I’ll read her this summer. I read across genres too…though as I read a little less now, I see my taste veering towards chick lit

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am a fan of chick lit. Proudly. Where else am I going to find the happy ever after? Certainly not in reality that’s for sure. I love the love between characters and I love to laugh. That’s not to say authors are tied to a genre, they can branch out and explore the edgier dark side but that comes at a cost of loosing the audience you built. Which is why authors and writers write for themselves. You love your writing but you have to acknowledge someone who loved your fluff piece corporate rom com might not want to read your think piece of drug addiction. The only author that really failed me was Sophie Kinsella, she did an amnesia story but the love story was just heart breaking. Yeah they found their way back to each other in the end but most of what they had, they lost. The line between comedy and sadness wasn’t struck so well. I would recommend fans of her books skip that one- it was just sad. Anyway raise a glass in salute of chick lit. Long may it be published.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve to hold my hand up as someone who has long been a doer-down of chick-lit. And when you’re talking about the repetitive, utterly formulaic stuff which is cranked out, not unlike your Mills & Boon, I stand by that. I see them as the book equivalent of the rom-com. Both have their place, are popular, and meet a need, but I generally want more from a book or a film. There have been rare occasions when I’ve been emotionally over-wrought (when I was being treated for cancer for example) when they met a need for ease, comfort and a happy ending.

    But there’s also a lot of what is regarded as chick-lit which is well written, not stereotypical and formulaic – and I really enjoy reading them. I think the problem is that lines between chick-lit and women’s fiction are becoming blurred.

    I believe variety in reading (as in many things) is important. My favourite reading material is literary fiction, but I find a change of pace is helpful in order to fully appreciate everything I read. I’m reading a lot more genres now than before – for example, one of my current favourite authors writes in the space opera genre.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I read a lot of Elin Hilderbrand during this year of sheltering in place. It was light and fun, although someone always dies. I also read nonfiction and literary fiction. I love most of Anne Patchett’s books although a few I hated.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love mysteries the best, but those with the deeper stories and character development, as opposed to cozies. I don’t think that any genre is a waste of time as long as the reader enjoys it! I do, however, think that the term “chick lit” can come across as being rather demeaning, as most females probably don’t wish to be called “chicks” these days. As for the authors changing up what they write, that may sometimes be due to the publishers/agents. It may also be that the authors are ready to try something new after writing the same type of books for years. They’ll never know until they try whether it’s a good fit for them!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I get what you mean about the term chick lit…but I will tell you…when I pick something up labeled chick lit, I know exactly what I’m getting, and sometimes I want that. Like a cozy mystery…no way should a murder be thought if as cozy, but you know something is going to be easy if you label it as such

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah, okay, here we go. Yes, I do beleive that people generally “favor,” at least in language, a “heavier” book, than one that is “lighter.” However, I suspect some of this, maybe more, is performance to “look good,” instead of actually just owning what they like. There’s definitely some stigma attached to particular genres. Yes, I do think that publishers, and even authors, will change their writing style to accommodate what is more popular at any given time. The issue? Whatever is most popular now, will eventually not be popular. Further, when we are inspired in our writing, the reader knows, as you write about in your example. Um… today, I read mostly literature, both light and heavy, and spiritual books. That was fun, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love chick lit! It is something I share & connect with my daughter. I need something easy & fun. However, I love good SciFi and explore many genres. Neil Stephenson writes these incredibly dense, long books that fascinate me. Oftentimes I will read 2 books at once – one light and one non-fiction type. I think so long as you read (including graphic novels), you are a more interesting person.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Reading is never a waste of time, no matter what genre. I read everything, and I write romance, so maybe I’m not exactly impartial.
    I don’t think publishers ask established authors to write what’s trendy, simply because of the time it takes to publish a book. By the time a book hits the market, the trend may have changed. I can tell you from experience that writers write the story that’s in them. Sometimes that is different from the usual.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll accept that. I get that writers write what they think…I’m the prime example of that. But I do wonder why some authors choose to go heavy or dark, when their styles just don’t click in that direction

      Like

  14. Are you talking about Jennifer Weiner?? 😉
    LOL.
    I will. She used to be a good one for me to read, but lately, I’m not clicking with what she’s throwing down. Then maybe it’s me? Maybe I’m changing as a reader and I need something different too.

    I used to love another author of chick lit and then one of her books was made into a Netflix movie and it was bad. SO BAD. But we all know the book is so much better than the movie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She is definitely one of the writers I referred to! Her last few books have been blehhhhhhhh. And I used to LOVE her. She was funny and smart and poignant and just perfect. Then she got into heavy topics and she lost the wit that made her older books dance and sing. She exemplified the “normal” woman, the highs and the lows, how just being a regular person could be difficult and joyous. Now it’s cheap melodrama…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I think we like different genres at different points in time. I tend to gravitate to crime drama fiction and historical fiction. I also love apologetics. And, occasionally, a light and pithy “beach read” is a refreshing change. Have you read any Kate Morton? She intertwines past and present together…and there’s always a secret that is interwoven into her story. I really like her books. All except Clockmaker’s Daughter. That one was hard to follow. Check her out: https://www.katemorton.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read a the Secret Keeper which I liked very much. Completely agree about being in the mood for certain things at certain times. As I was doing my month in books post yesterday, I realized how I chose books for specific reasons , like they were light or uplifting or fun

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I am a multi-genre reader, I love mixing it up, and I’ll try anything with an open mind. If I’m excessively bored or uninterested by page 100 I give it up, move on to something more interesting. As a writer I try out different styles occasionally, borrowing the voice of someone I admire, but it usually doesn’t please everyone. It does stretch me so that’s good. C

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We love your voice LA! Never stop writing. Never! Sometimes I’ll read a really good piece of literature and it’s as if the rhythm gets into my head like a song you can’t stop singing and the words that tumble onto the page are no longer just me, they’re interwoven with the song! I eventually go back to me but I often miss that presence. I think psychologist refer to it as multiple personality disorder. Bahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 😆but I get what you mean…what a joy to feel you embody the person you’re reading about…to have a writer be able to give you that feeling…it’s a gift

        Liked by 1 person

  17. (I don’t know why I feel as if I should answer ALL of these):
    Do you think publishers/agents direct best selling authors to write things that are in vogue, even if it means changing genres? YES

    What genres do you prefer? CREATIVE NONFICTION (surprised?)

    Do you think chick lit is a waste of time? YES!

    Have you ever had an author that you love disappoint you with their latest work? DEFINITELY!

    Anything else that I touched on in this post: Nope. You covered it all.

    Do we undervalue light in favor of heavy: I’m not sure about this one. I think it depends on the reader, right?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha!! I read a bunch of depressing stuff during pandemic…but now I’m definitely branching into more uplifting territory. Nice weather makes me want to kick back. Though I know even trashy books have made me think….

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. I read a book recently where I hated every single character…hard to enjoy it. Though, I’m beginning to live an unreliable narrator even though I know I shouldn’t….

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I also love chick lit! 🙈 While I tend to read more non-fiction these days, chick lits are still my go-to books to unwind. Who are your favourite authors? Do you have any recommendations?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to love Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner and Liane Moriarty, I haven’t liked their last few books. Honestly, I haven’t read one that I loved in awhile…

      Liked by 1 person

  19. My favourite genres are romance and historical fiction/works and I’ve read a few good autobiographies. I also enjoy reading philosophical books like that of stoicism : )

    Like

  20. I try to read widely, and have read chick lit. However, I think I’ve chosen my chick lit badly as I’ve never found the characters particularly strong – I’m sure that’s not the case for the whole genre though. Which book would you recommend to someone willing to give the genre a go?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s