Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who devoured books with such passion that it was hard to miss the glint in her eye each time she was absorbed in a great story. She would often journey to libraries and bookstores, each time bringing home some fanciful read that would take her on an amazing adventure. Once the book was finished, she would revel in its memories while looking forward, at the same time, to the next trip to the bookstore when she can lose herself in similar escapades. She never discriminated between her books. Each book was special to her. Some helped her understand the world better, some took her on a historical quest, and some inspired her to reach for the stars. And so she went on, living from one book to the next, each one in its own way filling her mind with awe and wonder. Years passed, and the little girl, now a radiant young woman, discovered a whole new genre of books. It spoke of feisty, happy-go-lucky girls, just like her, with big dreams and well-charted plans, having to deal with life’s infamous lemons that took many forms ranging from insensitive boyfriends to crazy bosses to scheming mothers-in-law and cheating fiancés, among a plethora of others. Not only did they make for a no-brainer, breezy read, but it was also side-splittingly funny. The young woman was thrilled. She couldn’t wait to tell the world about these books. But no sooner she did than she was met with all kinds of stares and sneering remarks. She didn’t understand how her hilariously adorable books with their cute, artsy cover can be frowned upon. If only you would listen to the story, she began to say but was soon shut down by a society that saw ‘boy meets girl’ stories as frivolous and trashy. Needless to say, thereafter, she was never caught reading such books in public or even speaking about them, fearful of unsolicited scrutiny and censure.
If this feels like you, let me assure you, you are not alone. It has happened with me, like it has, with many others. For years, male and female readers have been made to feel embarrassed and even ashamed about reading Chick–lit or Chick Literature, a popular term coined for those books that has a central female character trying to navigate many of life’s unexpected twists and turns related to but not limited to romance, marriage, and career, told through a witty and quirky plot. Although these books highly resonate with their readers because of their ‘real to life’ element, somehow, it has never been accorded as much importance as mainstream literature. This is truly sad, considering how this genre has a wide readership, with millions of copies being sold within days of publishing. Several well-known chick-lit authors have also lamented how they don’t get the recognition and respect they deserve despite their fame and success and are often advised to switch to more ‘serious genres’ for a better public image.
In a world where people are judged by the books they read, chick-lits are cast off primarily due to their ‘inability to build personality and character.’ And therein lies the problem. The archaic stereotypes governing this category of fiction are so strong that most people see it as a bunch of silly women stories who are naïve and foolish enough to land themselves in complicated situations, only to untangle the mess before foraying into their happily ever after. But is that what chick-lits are all about? Absolutely not! This is why popular chick-lit authors and chick-lit-loving readers from all over the world started a revolution a few years ago, demanding that this genre be renamed as ‘Wit-Lit’ or ‘Comic Fiction.’ And I, for one, can’t agree more. Although I read and enjoy all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, chick-lits have a special place in my heart. As against common opinion, these books are more than just ‘girl problems.’ So why do chick-lits matter? And should it be renamed? Let’s find out!
Of Love, Life, and Loss
Okay, so chick-lits may not be all science and politics, expounding knowledge at every turn, but these books have an important role to play too. Underneath the seemingly insignificant stories lie a wealth of life lessons that will definitely come in handy someday. Take Jane Green’s Jemima J, for example; a must-read for every woman. Jemima’s battles with her insecurities are what most women go through at some point in her life. Through Jemima, Jane Green talks about the importance of self-love and self-acceptance. You might think that this is just a story, but to a reader fighting a similar battle, this book would offer a world of support! Many books and many characters like Jemima J speak to readers on so many levels, giving them solace and confidence to face life head-on.
“I don’t want to waste my life anymore. I owe it to myself to do more. Not because I’m being greedy, but because I’m alive.” – Olivia Spring, The Middle-Aged Virgin
Chick-lit books have more inspiring quotes than any other genre. Because it showcases bold and powerful characters having to make seemingly trivial but life-affirming decisions, these books uplift and inspire men and women in so many ways. After all, inspiration is not always in the tales of big achievements and accomplishments alone. As they say, small things can be very large indeed!
Humour In Difficult Times
I firmly believe that books are not merely to educate but to entertain as well. Like they say, life is not a bed of roses. So when stuck in stressful situations, these stories, with their infinite humor, provide the much-needed respite and excitement, filling life with hope and energy. If you don’t believe me, please read Meg Cabot’s The Boy Series. These are four standalone books, each with a plot that will make you laugh your head off! Do try it, you can thank me later!
Chick – lits are not always light and fluffy! Have you read Marian Keyes’s This Charming Man or Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies? Oh, please do not be fooled by their shiny, glittery cover art. A whole spectrum of social issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and anxiety disorders are presented to its readers in these two books in all its seriousness. There is a reason why they say a book should not be judged by its cover, after all!
To rename or not to rename?
So, for that category of books that represent inspiring, witty characters dealing with almost real-life situations through sharp, insightful humor, wit-lit may be a more apt name. Moreover, this genre is not read-only by women. So, calling it chick-lit may be slightly misleading! And if popular perceptions can be shattered through creative marketing strategies and PR, more and more people might be enticed to view this genre seriously. However, it also can’t be denied that merely renaming genres is not going to give chick-lits the respect and attention it deserves. Call it chick-lit, wit-lit, or rom-com reads; it needs to be seen whether a change of title can uplift the status of a genre, which has been castaway for generations. After all, what’s in a name! What is needed is an attitude shift along with the much-needed dawning realization that every book offers something special to its readers that is invaluable in itself.
With more and more readers becoming open about their literary choices and with more bookstagrammers and bloggers promoting chick-lits with interesting book photography and popular hashtags, one can sure hope that the judgment surrounding this genre will fade away in no time!
So, are you a chick-lit fan like me? Do you think chick-lit should be renamed to wit-lit? Do drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts!
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