Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chick Lit Without the Cheesy

Well-written chick lit can be tough to find.  Sometimes I will pick up a book for the dog on the cover or the pink hearts, and instead of being lighthearted and sweet, it will be a chore to work through the book - the writing will be choppy, the dialogue unrealistic and over-the-top, and I usually end up not finishing it.  But other times, I expect to be disappointed by this genre of book, and I am actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  It is possible to find a book that can be considered both "literary" and "chick lit".  Here are some examples that I loved reading. (All photos from Goodreads)

Next to Love - Ellen Feldman
I adored every minute of this book!  Set during World War II, it's about three young wives whose husbands are soldiers.  Three very different, terrible things happen to each husband, and the wives must adapt to their new lives while still maintaining their relationships.  I thought it was moving and rather heartbreaking; it details the girls' transformations beautifully.  I was sad to finish this novel!

Bond Girl - Erin Duffy
I was a bit wary of this novel.  The cover makes it look like a trashy read full of illicit sex scenes (which, okay, sounds kind of awesome), AND it involved working in bonds on Wall Street - boring!  But I was very happily surprised.  The main character, Alex, does in fact work on Wall Street; somehow, though, the author managed to write it in a way that was very relatable and interesting to read.  Alex works only with men, and she must fight her way to the top as her male coworkers belittle and ridicule her for being a woman in a "man's job."  This reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada; I really enjoyed it.

Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea - Morgan Callan Rogers
This was one of the most amazing debut novels I have ever read.  I loved the setting:  1960s Maine.  I loved the narrator:  a precocious young girl named Florine.  I loved the poetic writing and the plot.  Florine's mother leaves just as Florine is entering her adolescence, leaving her with her beloved grandmother and alcoholic father.  Throughout the book, Florine tries to find closure and deal with her mother's disappearance.  Read this!

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay
This one is a bit more...trashy than the others, but I still really liked it.  Fans of the book "Beautiful Disaster" will love this.  Though the book is very long, it is an extremely fast read.  Nastya is the new girl at school, and she doesn't anyone.  This book explores why that is, and how she somehow becomes attached to the loner at school.  It sounds very cliche and predictable, and in a way, I suppose it was.  But I thought it was a typical boy-meets-girl story with some interesting twists and turns.  I really liked it.

It Looked Different on the Model - Laurie Notaro
This was a hilarious memoir about the author's life and embarrassing mishaps she has had in her marriage, her wardrobe, etc.  I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but I definitely LOLd multiple times while reading this.

Wife 22 - Melanie Gideon
This was a very sweet novel with a cute ending.  The narrator participates in an online survey about marriage (she is wife number 22 to take the survey, hence the title), and she finds herself intrigued by her researcher, though she is married herself.  Some unexpected twists and turns in the plot, and I really enjoyed the survey aspect.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
After reading this book, I am super super excited to read more from this author.  Lou is rather bored with her predictable life and relationship; then she gets a job caring for a young, depressed quadriplegic named Will.  When she finds out he no longer wants to live, she makes it her goal to change his life for the better.  I thought this book was amazing, though also very sad.

I Have Iraq in my Shoe - Gretchen Berg
This was a very lighthearted and irreverent memoir that is not meant to be taken seriously, since many parts of it are pretty damn shallow and not what you'd consider "politically correct."  However, I really liked it.  The author runs out of money and decides to go to Iraq to teach English.  The author is also obsessed with fashion and very wary of the unknown.  Funny, embarrassing stories ensue, etc.  A very fun read.

For some VERY light reading, try Elin Hilderbrand.  Always pretty predictable and overly sentimental, but for some reason, I can never get enough of the Nantucket setting.  I know absolutely nothing about Nantucket, but it is definitely on my list of places to visit simply because of the Hilderbrand novels.


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