How Do You Define Chick Lit?

Barbara Vey -- May 6th, 2012

I recently got into a discussion with an author about Chick Lit.  It wasn’t really about Chick Lit itself, it’s more about the definition of Chick Lit.

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Wikipedia defines Chick lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.  The genre became popular in the late 1990s, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit.  Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because the heroine’s relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships.

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Melissa Amster who writes for Chick Lit Central blog says, “I define chick lit as modern women’s literature featuring a female character ranging in age from 20-40, dealing with issues in the fields of career, romance and family (or even a mix of these items). In more recent times, a lot of chick lit has centered around fertility issues or pregnancy and divorce or infidelity. Some authors that stick out as chick lit for me are Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Jane Green, Emily Giffin and Carole Matthews.”

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My conversation with this issue started with me saying I didn’t think that Jennifer Crusie wrote Chick Lit.  I think of her books as romantic comedy.  Even though this is close to Wikipedia’s definition, I think that Jennifer Crusie does have more romance in her books (which is fine with me).  To me, Chick Lit is more about women’s issues or maybe some of the more perceived notions of shopping, shoes and clothes (not anything that really interests me in real life).  Kind of like Sex and the City is to TV and I do think of the Sophie Kinsella books that way.

So I went out and asked people on the street their definitions of Chick Lit.

Sue, 51:  I think of magazines about fashion and celebrities as Chick Lit.

Britney, 22:  Books that are light and fluffy like shopaholic books.

Mary, 37:  Anything my husband wouldn’t read.

Rhonda, 49:  Romance…straight romance.

Sherry, 52:  Shoes, shopping, Sex and the City.

Rose, 36:  Girlfriends, Kinsella, Weiner.

Liz, 22:  Never heard of Chick Lit…what is it?

Love this sign in a Norway bookstore

Love this sign in a Norway bookstore

 

,I’ve discovered, over the years that how books are categorized can be very important to some people.  While they will read one genre, they will not read another because of where it might be placed on a book shelf even though they might really enjoy the book if they ever gave it a chance.  I’m all in favor of trying things at least once.
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What about you?  How do you define Chick Lit?  Does it matter?  Do you read it?  Has it received a bad reputation?   Suggest a great Chick Lit book for me to read.

Bottom Line:  Yes, I’ve said it…I hate to shop.

 

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