There seems to be the notion that we have to read intelligent books. That authors like James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks or the Twilight series are nonsense garbage that we should not enjoy, nor bother to read. While the less than stellar reviews people leave on sites such as, Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Goodreads for these books, may not be very good, just what are they reviewing? I think some people expect writing and novels by all authors, and those in a particular genre to be writing at the caliber of Shakespeare. I think this is a mistake, for they are missing out on the sheer enjoyment of trash.
I took a quick (and I might say, super scientific) poll amongst some friends to find out what kind of reading they enjoy when they want mindless entertainment. Genre fiction seemed to be the most popular, which doesn’t surprise me. I love genre fiction, and I think what makes it enjoyable is the often predictable and formulaic plots and characters. In a chaotic world, or a busy day, reading a book in which we don’t have to think about the meaning or the bigger picture is an escape. I would compare this style to a favorite TV show that no one else seems to understand why we like it, we just do. Yet, these known expectations don’t make these books ‘bad’ reading! It makes reading fun!
One genre of books that seemed to get called out the most in my highly scientific research was what many people call ‘chick-lit’. Chick-lit is a term in which I don’t understand why it’s even a name, because chicklets are a gum and a type of baby chicken, not a genre. However, I think the appeal of such books, because I read them too, is not only the humor often found, but that the characters seem to embody personality quirks we can relate and challenges we as women face.
Below is a quick hit list of some great fiction books and authors full of personality quirks and challenging lives that I think particularly appeal to women of all ages. If you don’t find the book I mention appealing, try one of the author’s other books.
One of my favorite authors is Jennifer Weiner. She embodies what I enjoy about women’s fiction, yet her writing is smart, witty and creative. One of my favorites by Weiner is her 2005 book, Goodnight Nobody: A Novel, about a Connecticut mother who is bored out of her mind. Her life starts to become fun again when she starts to get involved in a neighborhood mystery. This particular novel has suspense and mystery, but on a more lighthearted level. I find this book a good introduction to Weiner’s humor and style.
Emily Giffin is another female writer who I enjoy for her smart writing style and engaging stories. She encompasses drama, twists and turns that make her books fun to read. Start with Something Borrowed, which I think is a great soap opera of a book on a level that isn’t just fluff or trash. It was also made into a recent movie. I definitely think you’ll want to read her other books after this one.
Another of my favorite women writers is Sophie Kinsella because she is British and fabulous! Her Shopaholic series is hilarious as she creates the character of Becky Bloomwood, a woman who embodies all that we love and hate about shopping and fashion. Becky is a loveable character full of charm and you will cheer for her success all throughout the book. This one is also a hit movie which I think captures the essence of the book.
If you haven’t read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, then I highly suggest you check it out if you like smart writing, witty humor, and a story with a great main character. The antagonist is unbelievably atrocious in a world of high fashion and New York City flair. This book I believe to be the one that really brought light to women’s fiction for the masses because of Weisberger’s brilliant style.
Jennifer Lancaster not only has a great first name, but also a great first novel called, Bitter is the new black: confessions of a condescending, egomaniacal, self-centered, smart-ass, or, why you should never carry a Prada bag to the unemployment office : a memoir. In a semi-autobiographical way, she writes about her loss of her job, her boyfriend and her sanity. Not for the easily offended, she uses much criticism and judgement as only she can do. She also has a blog where she writes about her musings.
Hope you discover a new writer for pure reading fun! I’d love to hear your suggestions for other ‘trashy’ books you enjoy reading when you want mindless entertainment!