This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
For the record, I’m not enthralled by the ‘Chick Lit’ label. Chick. Ick. Lit. Shit. It’s reductive and flippant. But, a tad annoyingly, it’s also incredibly powerful. In terms of website traffic it’s four times as powerful as the term ‘women’s fiction’ and eight times as powerful as the term ‘female fiction’. Over 40,000 people a month search Google for ‘chick lit’. I’d love to take my own little stand and exchange every ‘chick lit’ on this website to something less sexist and more descriptively accurate. But I really want those 40,000 people on Google to come to this website instead of the competition. I want those people who search google for Chick Lit to find what it is that they’re looking for on Novelicious, and once they're here, we can also tell them about other great books that they may not have previously thought to read. And in any case, what term would you use in place of Chick Lit? The whole thing is already confused enough.
What does Chick Lit mean? Which books ARE so-called Chick Lit?
For me, Chick Lit was always a sub-genre of women’s fiction – usually a novel starring a 20-30 year old protagonist and with a strong comedic focus – sort of like the book version of a Romantic Comedy movie, but not cheesy; funny, sometimes irreverent, escapist, recognising-your-life-in-them books about incredibly important life topics such as LOVE and FRIENDSHIP and FIGURING OUT HOW TO BE HAPPY (who decided that love and friendship and trying to be happy were fluffy?).
Back in the 90s, Chick Lit knew exactly what it was. ALL the Chick Lit books were romantic comedies; Jenny Colgan, Jane Green, Chris Manby, Helen Fielding, Victoria Routledge, Lisa Jewell (with a more serious drama slant) and Mike Gayle, whose early books are pure Chick Lit. And then somewhere along the way things got confused. Somehow, Chick Lit started to incorporate any fiction written by a woman that wasn’t overtly ‘literary’. Jodi Picoult? Whaaaaaat? Jodi Picoult is now, bizarrely, classed by many as a chick lit writer. (We regularly feature her on Novelicious, so we’re guilty too. Soz, but we heart her and she brings lots of traffic). Jodi Picoult whose novels are some of the most unfunny I’ve ever read – which is fine because they’re not supposed to be funny; they’re about convicts, and shootings and bone marrow transplants and abuse. That’s not to say that they’re better or worse than Chick Lit. They’re just not Chick Lit.
Last month I heard Rosamund Lupton’s ‘Sister’ referred to as Chick Lit. Nooooo. No, folks – no. If we have to label it at all – Family drama? Psychological Thriller? Contemporary book club fiction? Yes. Not Chick Lit. Not even ‘Women’s Fiction’. Jojo Moyes. Not Chick Lit. Kathryn Stockett. Not Chick Lit. Audrey Niffenegger. Not Chick Lit. Nick Hornby. Chick Lit. Definitely.
It goes the other way too. Chick Lit books that no one acknowledged as Chick Lit. One Day by David Nicholls. Full of punchy dialogue and romantic moments and LOVE and FRIENDSHIP. Quintessential Chick Lit. A movie was made! Awards were given! A man wrote a convincing female character, rejoice! Lisa Jewell writes convincing male characters year after year. Where’s her movie? Just saying. And digressing.
The point is, is that while it may take longer to come up with a new, more appropriate name for Chick Lit, while it’s here we might as well use it correctly instead of pinning it onto any piece of fiction written by a female. It’s confusing.
So tell us, what do you class as Chick Lit? Tell us if you agree with us or not! Let's have a natter…