When I rail against Chick Lit it’s not because I have never read the genre. I dislike it primarily because I have read a lot of it. I am a woman and a reader. Some great modern novels technically fit in the genre and for good reasons. That being said, some of the best transcend the genre. Even less often some amazing books are lumped in the genre even though they should never be.Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of those books that transcends the genre of Chick Lit. Not because it is amazing, but because it was inspired by a book that is amazing: Pride & Prejudice.
For the record: Pride & Prejudice is NOT Chick Lit. It is literature written by and about women. What it isn’t about is hating your life and improving it.
Bridget Jones is about how she dislikes her life and how she is trying to fix it. What I loved about Bridget Jones is the people around Bridget: her friends, her parents, and Marc Darcy. I will never not love a Mr. Darcy. Even when I don’t really like certain details, I love him. What I don’t love about Bridget Jones is the Chick Lit. Bridget is not Elizabeth Bennet. In fact, I think she is the exact opposite of Elizabeth Bennet.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a Chick Lit book I recall enjoying. Part of it was when I read it. I read it when I was still in school for my MLS degree. I was at my heaviest weight. I was lonely, having lived in Massachusetts for less than a year and struggling to meet people. In Monday’s entry I wrote about how I don’t compare myself to others, but to myself at my worst. Well, this is one of my lower points. It was not at all my lowest, but I was at the tail end of pulling through my life at its lowest.
The book did not have an impact on me in the sense that it helped pull me through. I will go straight to actual self-help books if that’s what I need. Rather, I understood Bridget better at that point in my life. I was younger than her and didn’t yet realize that I could thumb my nose at convention about being a woman in modern society. I had not yet realized I didn’t actually want to get married or have kids. I had not realized that I had no desire to build my life around the goal of getting a man.
That wouldn’t happen for another year. What I did learn from the Chick Lit I read in those days was how to be self-reflective. I learned that I could question my happiness and make the changes. I learned that I could do it at 26, rather than 36.
When I consider other Chick Lit I have read and enjoyed, it was all during this period of my life. As I grew I understood that these books aren’t giving us anything new. The classics in the genre remain the best the genre has to offer.
With that in mind, here are my favorite Chick Lit books:
- The Devil Wears Prada – possibly the only one about a woman who doesn’t actually hate herself, but is focused on a career goal and gets in over her head. Plus, the movie is one of the best adaptations I have seen.
- The Nanny Diaries – again, more of a novel of someone who has no idea what she is in for and thus get in over her head.
- In Her Shoes – possibly Weiner’s best. I identified with Rose even though I was far younger. It wasn’t so much that my own sister was like hers (there is nothing similar between Maggie and my sister Katie), but that I had something in common with Rose.
- Eat Pray Love – not technically Chick Lit, but Chick Memoir. This one stands out because Gilbert really did something about her life. It wasn’t an empty platitude, but someone real trying to improve her life.
- Sex and the City – again, memoir rather than literature. This is the book that inspired the show, but it is much deeper. Rather than self-hate and self-help, it seeks to simply understand modern women in New York.
So, what did I leave off the list of the best Chick Lit? Leave it in the comments and tell me why it’s one of the best.