Want a smart, fun read? Try some chick lit

By Samantha Stroh Bailey

I write chick lit. Okay, are you still reading or have you screwed up your face in distaste? Well, before you judge, do you actually know what chick lit is? For some reason, after the pink explosion of chick lit in the late 90s, it seems to have gotten a misconstrued reputation for fluff and froth. Now, don’t get me wrong, the covers are delicious and flirty, the female protagonists do imbibe some fruity cocktails and there may even be some shopping. But, this is not what chick lit is all about.

Chick lit, a sub-genre of women’s fiction, is usually about the journey of a strong, independent and sassy female main character. She may be searching for a new career, moving to a new place, getting married, divorced or looking for love, and she often has an amazing group of friends that you might wish you had. The chick lit heroine is smart, funny and headstrong. She screws up repeatedly but doesn’t let it stop her from finding whatever it is she wants. In my debut novel, Finding Lucas, Jamie Ross is looking for a way out of her five-years-long toxic relationship with maniacal metrosexual, Derek. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she ends up on a frenzied hunt to track down Lucas, the “friends with benefits” she hasn’t seen or spoken to in ten years. Crazy? Yes. Hysterically funny? Yup. Smart and edgy? Absolutely.

Chick lit is a wonderful escape from the trials and chores of daily life. Got laundry? Relationship woes? Family struggles? Download a pastel-covered book and lose yourself in someone’s life that is only slightly crazier than your own. Reading a book with a high heel or purse on its cover doesn’t make you less intelligent. In fact, you might find a main character you instantly connect with and have a friend who just gets you when you most need it.

Perhaps the word “chick” is the issue. It is a word that can seem derogatory, pejorative and demeaning. Yet, since it is the authors themselves who dub their books chick lit, maybe it is actually a post-feminist view of what it is to be a woman, be it single, married, divorced or widowed, in today’s society. The evolution of chick lit follows women from their late teens until after retirement and it gives voice to those issues we deal with on a daily basis.

So, before you assume that chick lit is a genre you would be embarrassed to read, check out a few of our brightly-covered books. They will make you laugh, cry and call your best friend, all while reaching for a chocolate martini.

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Samantha Stroh Bailey is a published author and former English teacher with over 15 years of writing and editing experience. Her website, Perfect Pen Communications, offers full service writing, proofreading and editing.

Check out Samantha’s book, Finding Lucas, on Kobo!

12 comments

  • “A post-feminist view of what it is to be a woman, be it single, married, divorced or widowed.” That is the perfect description of what Chick Lit is, Samantha. What a great spokesperson you are for this fabulous genre! I have read so many wonderful Chick Lit books written by some incredibly funny and talented authors lately, including yours! I really think that the genre is experiencing a resurgence.

  • Whoops, lost my previous comment attempt…
    I was trying to say, this is a lovely, succinct piece. Seems to me, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be entertained as we follow a strong character’s journey.

  • What a great post. I absolutely agree that chick lit has come a long way since the surge in the 90s and is no longer about shopping addictions, designer shoes and evil bosses. I love chick lit because, more than any other genre, I can often relate to the main character’s journey to find herself and the challenges she faces along the way. And as a writer of chick lit, I am not the slightest put off by the term “chick” – lighten up people!

  • Brilliant article! I’m not put off by the chick lit term. Doesn’t phase me at all.

  • Excellent article! I’m a huge fan of chick lit, for the “realness” of the stories and the characters, oftentimes they are women similar to some I’m already friends with, or someone I could imagine being friends with. And to me that’s invaluable. I actually found this article while searching for reviews, I need some new books because I just finished The Publicist, rumored to be written by an actual NY book publicist, it’s chick lit meets insider info. Great read, thepublicistnovel.com. I highly recommend it and would love to hear what the rest of you have read recently – need recommendations! Thanks again Samantha, Finding Lucas is my next stop!

    • Thank you so much, Lori, and I hope you enjoy Finding Lucas! I checked out The Publicist, and it looks so good! I’m definitely adding that to my to-read pile! If you’re looking for fantastic, smart and hilarious chick lit, check out the authors who commented on my article. They are all extremely talented.

      Samantha Stroh Bailey

  • This was a great post and so true! I think there is so much garbage that ends up in the chick lit category yet I think you sum it up quite well when you write, “Chick lit, a sub-genre of women’s fiction, is usually about the journey of a strong, independent and sassy female main character. ” I want a heroine that I can root for and that I relate to! Unlike some of the recent leading ladies I’ve read about that seem like they need rescuing, that are almost shown in a kind of pathetic way….. Luckily, I have come across a fabulous book that I have to recommend after reading your post called “Shanghai Love” by author Layne Wong (http://laynewong.com/). It is an unlikely love story between a Chinese herbalist and a Jewish refugee looking for safety from Nazi Germany. The herbalist, Peilin, was betrothed to a man who was killed before their wedding but tradition and honor forced the marriage along anyways. She is sent to Shanghai to manage his family’s herbal shop. Shanghai is also Henri’s destination as he has graduated from medical school as Hitler is rising to power. He flees to Shanghai where he’s befriended by Ping, Peilin’s brother. Through her kindness, Henri becomes fascinated with Chinese herbs as well as the exotic culture surrounding him. It is such a gripping story with a female character that you care about and that deserves a happy ending!

    • Thank you so much, Karen. I’m so happy you liked the post. Wow, “Shanghai Love” does look like a gripping read. I checked it out and the cover is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the recommendation! I’m always looking for great new books.

      Samantha Stroh Bailey

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