Mar 26 2011 12:00pm

Romantic Literature for Chicks: Green, Kinsella, and Giffin

My reading tastes are like my moods: fickle and ever changing. Not so long ago I was introduced to someone as a reader and of course was asked, “What do you like to read?” Since I read in many genres, I was unsure of how to answer. Here is a brief but eloquent transcript:

Me: Um…I guess women’s fiction
New Person: Like chick-lit
Me: No, well, maybe. Yeah, I guess. I also read romance.
NP: Isn’t romance women’s fiction?
Me: No, well…yes?

I consulted my various book friends, thus sparking a heated debate: My literary women’s fiction cluster did not take kindly to the term chick-lit, and the romancers did not find chick-lit to be romantic enough.

(As an equal-opportunity reader, I find it silly to judge a book solely based on the category it “fits” into especially since genres are constantly growing and changing)

So today I appeal to the strict romance reader with a few of my favorite genre-blurring books. So come on! Live a little—put a little “lit” in your romance!

Mr. Maybe by Jane Green.

Mr. Maybe is not just chick-lit; it is British chick-lit, meaning it is filled with characters much sassier and cooler than I will ever be. Which is part of the fun!

The main character is Libby Mason, a 27-year old publicist with expensive taste and empty pockets. But she has the perfect solution: marry rich! What about the equally broke writer she is sleeping with? Purely entertainment. Not part of her life plan at all.

The only problem is when she finally meets her “goal”—an extremely rich, perfectly adequate bloke—she begins to second guess her decisions. Mr. Maybe is romantic comedy at its finest. The kind that makes you want to stand up and cheer and then literally boo at the pages and then cheer again. The romance is strong and at times burns up the pages.

Love the One You’re With by Emily GiffinLove The One You're With by Emily Giffin

You are in a great relationship, your life is turning out exactly as you planned, and then your ex walks into the coffee shop where you are innocently sipping a latte. BOOM, everything changes. He's the one you never got over, the one that you had to bury so deep that when you see him all those emotions come crashing back down. Who hasn’t fantasized about running into a former flame (with a killer hair cut and extremely cute dress of course) and doing a variety of things: throwing tea in his face, showing him how great you are—how shall we put this—reconnectingLove The One You're With's main character challenges her perfectly happy life when she runs into the one ex that she never got out of her head.

This book is about more than just a romance; it's about friendship, relationships, and transforming yourself.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie KinsellaThe Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

I wasn’t a huge fan of Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, but The Undomestic Goddess is one of my all-time favorite reads. When I am stressed, I wonder about the possibility of running to a completely different place and reinventing myself. The main character in The Undomestic Goddess does just that—by accident.

Samantha Sweeting is a high-powered lawyer in a top firm, but makes a huge mistake costing the company millions. To avoid being publicly humiliated, she wanders into a large mansion and somehow ends up applying for a job as a housekeeper. Wanting a break from all the stress of her dramatic life, she actually accepts the job and finds that being a housekeeper is much more interesting than working in a law firm. Delightful cheesiness, a narrator who finds herself in ridiculous situations, one of the hottest sex scenes maybe ever, and a quest to find oneself—it's all here in spades.

Any of these books would be worth hopping the romance/women's fiction/chick-lit fence for; have you ever? Which are your favorites?


E Hartley works and plays in the land of books. She writes reviews (and other ramblings) on her blog  

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Donna Cummings
1. Donna Cummings
I have always enjoyed Jane Green's books, though it's definitely been a while since I've read any. I wish there was a bit more "genre blurring" too, so that when I need a book recommendation, I can say, "I'm looking for something sexy-funny" or "I need something angsty". LOL It would be easier to explain the type of experience I'm looking for, rather than trying to come up with a certain label. :)
Patti (Book Addict)
2. Patti (Book Addict)
I just picked up my first Jane Green book today (Bookends). I'm hoping to love it ;)

I don't like the labels; I always assume if it's marketed as "chick lit" there won't be any sexy bits, but I don't necessarily know if that's true.
Jennifer Ma
3. Jen X
I realized that if I vere away from romance but still sticking within "women's fiction" it has to be funny/witty chick-lit type reads. Bridget Jones' Diary & its sequel are great examples.

I'm not a fan of Giffin, not because of bad writing, I just find that I am never invested in her characters...they tend to be too generic or yuppie for my taste.
Charli Mac
4. CharliMac
I read Emily Giffin's Love The One You're With in a single weekend. I couldn't put it dowm. It was that good!

I won't spoil anything but I was really hoping it ended differently.

I hope to read some of her others soon, especially before the movies come out. .
Patti (Book Addict)
5. Kim in Hawaii
Undomesticated Goddess is a laugh out loud read! Make that screaming laugher out loud! My mother is British so I enjoy reading all the Brit Chick Lit gals. - I used to trade American books for British books with several international spouses when hubby worked for NATO in the Netherlands.
6. EvangelineHolland
I prefer Marian Keyes above all--Irish wit and humor, great characters, deep lessons, and heart-stopping romance.
Patti (Book Addict)
7. Taragel
I went through a period of devouring chick lit, and I have to second Evangeline. Marian Keyes is hands-down the best. Her early books especially, featuring the Walsh sisters, are so fantastic. "Watermelon", "Rachel's Holiday".... I also loved the stand-alone Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married. I swore off Jane Green completely after the incredibly insulting "Jemima J". I also loved Cecelia Ahern's "Rosie Dunne" and "PS I Love You" and "If You Could See Me Now". The Shopaholic books also have such a great sparkling voice. Becky threatens to be too stupid to live at moments but Kinsella always pulls back just in the nick of time and gives her some grounding. Lisa Jewell is another fantastic "chick-lit" writer.
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