This may not be a burning question in your mind but I thought maybe, after a year of putting my thoughts out there about books, you might like a sense of where I’m coming from in what I read and, ultimately, decide to review. Earlier this week I covered what I need when I read but that was at the micro level. There is also the macro level of what kind of books. If compared to the food world, I’m a gourmand—meaning I like to eat and eat the good with the bad, as opposed to a gourmet, who only delves into the delights of the best. Basically, I’m a champagne with potato chips kind of gal- I like it all!
One of my key criteria in reading material is that it makes me think. I don’t like ambiguity in life. In fact, it makes me a little bit crazy but in my fiction? I love it. Maybe because it means that I can read a book one way and the person next to me will interpret it another—which makes for marvelous discussion (can you tell I REALLY miss being in a book club?). I’m thinking ‘wait, what?’ and you’re thinking ‘no, it was like this’—fabulous! Or it’s a book that you finish but cannot close. You sigh, leaf back through the pages and think ‘I did not see that coming.’ Not in a mystery kind of way but a life kind of way. Some examples of books that have fed my reading, questioning soul this year are: The Dinner, & Sons, The Woman Upstairs, Sandrine’s Case, When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man, The Night Rainbow.
Sometimes, though, I am not up for thinking about what I’m reading and just want to escape so I choose books that require little mental input on my part. The lighter side of reading. Not stupid or badly written (which is always wrong) but, for the most part, about plot and everything wraps up neatly in a bright pink bow. I know who’s good and I know who’s bad and justice will prevail—even if it’s only regarding who gets the Hermes bag (seriously, do you know how long the waiting list is for a Birkin?). The two genres that nestle best in this sweet spot are historical fiction and chick lit. Which takes us into another discussion and I will digress. I like the tag ‘chick lit’. I’ve thought long and hard about what else to call books that are light, fun, possibly formulaic, and focused on women. Did I want a category for my blog called: female centric? Kind of wordy. Women’s literature? Too fancy. Fiction for women? Again, too many words. Chick lit is concise and, for me, it is not a pejorative, so I’m adding it as a category to my reviews for those times when, (be honest!) you want to get away from the real world. For men, it is action/adventure but instead of stupidly violent action and explosions, you get clothes shopping gone wild, bling, and spa treatments. For most of us it is fantasy, looking into a world wholly different from our own and being swept along without thought like a giggly teenager. It’s fun.
If you like light, female-centric books, how do you feel about the term chick-lit? Or do you stay away from that kind of book? If you’ve got any ideas for a better category name please share!