Monday, March 13, 2006

Any chicks out there?

Chick lit--those of us who spend a lot of time talking books know exactly what the term means, or think we do, but I was amazed this summer to realize a lot of people still don't. I was at my home town library for a book signing, when I got into a conversation with my cousin about books I thought she would enjoy. She told me she loved Sex and the City. I thought "Bingo--chick lit, of course. "But when I shared my wisdom with her, she just blinked back. No clue what I was talking about. Confident I would easily locate dozens of examples to show her, I bee-bopped up to the librarian and asked, "Where do you shelve chick lit?" Yet another blank stare.

I was bamboozled.

After a lot of searching and me fumbling for a description of what exactly chick lit is, we turned up one copy of Bridget Jones's Diary and one copy of The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing in general fiction. Success!! The librarian was thrilled with this new discovery and my cousin promised to check out when she got home.

Since then I've read a lot of people's descriptions of chick lit and to be honest a lot of them are a little simplistic and at times, insulting. Chick lit has grown a lot over the past few years. There are lots of subgenres to choose from--something, I'd even go so far to say, for almost everyone.

Here are a few of my favorite subgenres and books I recommend:

  • Mystery: The Mommy Track Mystery series by Ayelet Waldman (You won't find this shelved with chick lit, but they are most certainly mom lit mysteries. Love them!)

  • Paranormal: I've read a number of these this year. A few of my favorites: Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner (also mom lit), Enchanted Inc.: A Novel by Shanna Swendson, and Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh.

  • Hen Lit: (okay, I hate the term, but try and get past it...) I liked a number of the Next books published by Harlequin. One to try is Sandwiched by Jennifer Archer. I also loved Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews (Also a mystery with a great Southern setting which I am a sucker for.)

  • General Chick Lit: I have enjoyed many of the Red Dress Ink books by Harlequin, including Spitting Feathers by Kelly Harte. Then, my all time favorite chick lit has to be Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes. I can not say enough good things about this book. Not the least of which is that it has one of my all time favorite lines comparing a woman's pursed lips to a cat's butt. Now that is my kind of humor!

So, even if you think you know chick lit and it isn't for you--I urge you to give it another gander. Truly, you'll get more good out of a few of these excellent reads than you'll get out of twenty pairs of last season's Pradas. ;-)

Lori Devoti


Sally MacKenzie said...

Lori, please! My tbr stack is already overwhelming me. Sigh. I guess I'll just have to add a few more books.

Allie Mackay said...

Well, Lori...

Chick Lit is not my cuppa at all, nor Sue-Ellen's, and our interests are surely way too far on the other end of the scala (think medieval Scotland) for us to ever even pass like the proverbial ships in the night.

But ... I did want to pop in here and compliment your excellent post about the subgenre.

Loved the way you offer explanations for the various types of Chick Lit, too. Great idea!

As for the Pradas ... oh my oh my oh my. Sue-Ellen will rap my knuckles for telling you, but you could dump a ton of those buggers on her doorstep and she'd walk right past 'em without a glance.

Her to-die-for shoes (and mine) are solid and comfy ones. The kind good for hill-and-moor walking in the Highlands. You can even see an example of her very own feet happily tucked inside just such walking shoes on her website:

If that link doesn't work just go to and click on the INSIDE page, then scroll down to "Special Tidbits" for UNTIL THE KNIGHT COMES, her upcoming July Scottish medieval for Warner.

Anyway, when you see the photo, that's herself perched near the edge of a cliff on a tiny bird sanctuary isle in Shetland. She wanted to 'ground' herself in the photo and so included her feet in the shot. (she was enjoying a picnic at the time - oh, yeah, I was there, too!)

So those are her dream shoes, ones like that. I don't think those fancy Pradas would have made it walking round those cliffs!

And speaking of shoes and shopping, Sue-Ellen will really get old Devorgilla after me when I tell you she can't stand shopping. She'd rather clean the bathroom than shop. And -gasp!-she even wears her shoes until they fall apart because she is so allergic to shopping.

Well, except maybe poking around musty old used bookstores for research tomes on medieval Scotland!

But anyway, much success to you in getting out the word about your own favorite subgenre. Your post really was interesting and caught my eye!

I'll tell Sue-Ellen about it when she wraps up her current deadlines - if ever she does. I am beginning to think her fingers are super-glued to this keyboard!

Nor does she sleep nights. And she must sneak into the kitchen at 3 a.m. to eat because I never see her in there otherwise.

Thank goodness I rile her by posting here every once in a while. That's about the only time she ever glances up from her work. (to glare at me for being bad)

Enjoy those Pradas, my friend, and send Sue-Ellen and I the comfy walking shoes if you see any good ones!

Allie Mackay

Nancy Morse said...

I can't really say that chick lit is for me. I've watched a few episodes of Sex and the City and I don't care for it. One good thing about that show was that they served their crews great meals. (My husand's in the film business, so word gets around about the great food on the Sex & the City set). I'm a NYC girl born and raised, and I can honestly say I don't know a single woman who dresses like Carrie. My NYC friends don't wear all those crazy outfits, even the out-there ones who live in the Village or the uptown ones who can afford to. And Samantha is way too slutty for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I was a flower child of the late 60's and early 70's, (Woodstock, free love and all that) so I'm no prude, but giving a BJ to the UPS guy who just walks in is a bit much for me. I mean no offense to all those of you who love chick lit and Sex & the City. I make no judgments on what appeals to others, only what appeals to me. The world's a big place and the great thing is there's room for everyone's taste.

Allie Mackay said...

Ha ha ha, Nancy,

You, Sue-Ellen, and I have something else in common besides our great love of dogs!

Sue-Ellen will really zap me now, but it's the screaming truth: she has never once watched even a single episode of Sex And The City (or whatever it is) and has no desire to.

Just not her interest-zone.

She doesn't watch Desperate Housewives (is that it?) either. Or Buffy and the Vampire (or whatever that one is) or Lost that seems so popular.

She only watches CNN and the Weather Channel and even that pretty rarely.

Kinda boring, huh? All she does is peck away on her deadlines, bury herself in books on medieval Scotland or (best yet) go to Scotland. (and walk around in comfy shoes)

And just for the record, I don't watch -any- TV. I am always too busy walking Sue-Ellen's little dog or dreaming up other ways to bug her.

Allie Mackay

Shanna Swendson said...

I would like to point out that you really can't judge chick lit by Sex and the City. I haven't read any chick lit books that are anything like Sex and the City. Most of the time, when people criticize chick lit, the stereotypical descriptions they give are actually based on Sex and the City instead of on any actual chick lit books.

So even if you hate Sex and the City (I find it hard to get through an episode without wanting to tell those women to get a life), you may enjoy some chick lit books. If you want recommendations, tell me what kinds of books or characters you do enjoy, and I can probably find a chick lit book you might like.

LaraRios said...

I agree with Shanna. There may be some Chick-lit books that resemble Sex and the City, though most of those were the the early releases.

What distinguishes Chick-lit books from other mainstream titles is the contemporary voice. Lots of times, not always, it's simply a woman's journey.

And bookstores shelve them in the general fiction section, which in my opinion is a great choice. One story is so different from another that you can't make a chick-lit section and expect all the books to be similar.

Lori Devoti said...

If you try the books on my list I don't think you will find any of them resemble Sex in the City either. That was just my clue that my cousin would probably like chick lit. It certainly doesn't mean you HAVE to like Sex in the City to like chick lit. I liked the show, but only the cleaned up version that ran in reruns the "F" this and that every other word in the original show really pulled me out of what was happening. Just didn't get that.

Gail Dayton said...

I loved Rachel's Holiday, and most of the other Marian Keyes books (though I still haven't managed to finish The Other Side of the Story). Jennifer Archer's The Me I Used To Be is even better than Sandwiched. A lovely, lovely book. I read some chick-lit, some of the other stuff--I want to read Carpe Demon when I can find the extra $$ to buy the book. Or maybe hunt for it through library loan. I didn't like the Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. But there's a lot of variety out there, and like Lori said--it's all about the woman's journey.