"Chick Lit" & my issues with that term

Ok. I have a somewhat complicated relationship and set of reactions to this book, but to start: it is ultimately about four friends who are professional, competent, awesome women by day, seeking romance by night. Very Sex and the City and similar to my thoughts on that show, there are moments that make my feminism cringe. But usually those moments are just honest and while not sitting on the pedestal of what it is to be a strong, independent woman...well, we've all been there.

Confession time (and I am sure this just shows my privilege but here goes): I was most intrigued by this book because it's about four black women (Sharita the lawyer, Thursday the writer, Risa the rockstar, and Tammy the model). I believe strongly that if we're going to talk about telling women's stories, this needs to include ALL women. And I trust that this book is honest in it's depiction of each character and the hurdles they face in their day to day life because I don't have the experiences to back it up. But I will say that everything felt honest to me, completely relatable to all women in their professional lives and dating experiences, and a great reminder that we're all more similar than different. It's really a book for all women.

And here's where we get to the "Chick Lit" part. First, who wants to be called a "chick"? It literally implies a baby chicken. What?!? Surely we can come up with a more dignified term for literature directed at women. But here's where my other qualm is: is there "Dude Lit"? Or is that just Literature? I've spent most of my life reading books about men, sometimes with only a couple female characters, usually just plot furthering love interests, and that's because those are the stories that are out there. And sometimes those male characters are relatable, and most of the time I enjoy the book despite the patriarchal tones. It seems Chick Lit has arisen as a reaction to this problem by creating stories that are specifically for women. This book is one of those. And that's necessary because that's how we start to tip the balance, but isn't it more powerful to have a book that is about a woman, but really accessible to everyone? Until we start to get female stories into mainstream literature, we won't really be able to change societal perceptions of gender and hiding behind Chick Lit is not perhaps the best way to achieve this.

All that being said and taking my literature snob hat off: this book is very enjoyable. It really is everything it promised to be: a story about women making their way through the trials of life, career and romance all while holding onto their sisterly bonds. The title (which does tie into the structure of the story but I still don't like it) suggests this book is about finding love, and in a sense, it is but it's about finding love for yourself. And that almost always happens outside of romantic relationships and with the support of the people who are closest to you.

Also, there's a wonderful theme underlying this entire story of how we often think we know what we want or need to make our lives better. And aren't we almost always wrong? Each of the four women in this story set out with a specific goal in mind, but life has a way of throwing us the unexpected. Watching them navigate the twists and turns of this is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming.

In my opinion, this book is about as good as Chick Lit gets and if that is your cup of tea, you will have a great time reading it. I would recommend it as a beach read, but as we're looking at snow coming our way this weekend, perhaps bring it your family holiday gatherings when you need to escape for a bit. And then remember to give your girlfriends a big hug the next time you see them because none of us get through this life alone.

The Awesome Girls Guide to Dating

Ernessa T. Carter

Contemporary Fiction

It occurs to me in my Chick Lit rant, I forgot to include a description of the story, but the book jacket is actually succinctly wonderful:

"Four women. Two years.

A friendship to last a lifetime.

The only things that Sharita, Thursday, Risa, and Tammy have in common are their disastrous love lives. But the year three of them turn 30 will be different, they swear! Sharita, a plump and conservative accountant wants to make partner at her firm and find the man of her dreams. Thursday, the daughter of a formerly chart-topping political rapper, wants to stop being a serial one-month stander, and settle down into a stable life with a stable boyfriend. Risa, a skinny and audacious electronica punk rocker, wants to finally land an album deal, which she feels is the only way to win back the heart of her on-again-off-again closeted girlfriend. And after getting fired as the spokesmodel for her family’s hair company, sweet and gorgeous Tammy wants to prove that she has what it takes to make it on her own. None of these women get what they want, but over the course of two years, they get exactly what they need. And that proves to be the best thing after all."

#fiction #contemporary

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Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of 48, on the verge of divorce, Rita left an elegant life in LA to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. This book encourages us to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy so many of us bury when we become adults.

The Bookshop

 by Penelope Fitzgerald

The year is 1959 and the kind-hearted widow Florence Green risks everything to open the only bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough. What follows can only be described as the quaint, strange, and often sad happenings of a small, isolated community. The plot is not filled with grand parties, unlikely lovers, or a shocking penultimate event. But somehow, because the world of this story seems to fit in a snow globe, each small shake builds on the one before until those same every day situations are riddled with dramatic tension. I was truly amazed at how invested I was in the life of Florence's small bookshop.