Chick Lit In The Summer by The BookMinx

BookMinx from chit chats through her Summer Reading Campaign 2011.

I couldn’t be any happier than when sat in the sun with a slight breeze cooling my heat rash down, an unlimited supply of ice cold diet coke by my side and a big fat juicy chick lit book in my hands. That is my heaven on earth.

Chuck in some watermelon, a variety of pastries, some handsome men to glance at now and again and perhaps a few inches off my thighs (and arms, tummy, bum and chin) and right there you have my utopia.

I’m not a power reader or a skimmer – I try to savour every word, but can go through at least a book a day as long as the conditions are right. And I know I’m not alone. Because, like a huge proportion of book lovers, I’m a summer reading kind of girl, with 70% of my annual reading done when the sun’s out.

Summer reading campaigns are meticulously planned by publishers and retailers alike, and everyone wants a piece of the pie that is the second biggest season of spending (Xmas being number 1). And despite the fact that the costs involved would make your eyes bleed, pretty much all the big hitting paperbacks are launched between April and August.  The 3 for 2 tables groan under the weight of more genres than you can shake a stick at, but with just two campaign changeovers per month in store, there are just 10 date slots available during the summer season for a chart position and everyone is fighting for the top 10!

Of course the author, agent and publisher, but us readers as well. I almost jump up and down excited when us chicklitloversandproud vote with our purses and push a flittered-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life book up the best-selling charts. In your face critics, haters, award panel judges and literary snobs!

And call it what you will – commercial fiction, popular women fiction, romantic comedy, chopped liver, whatever – I am as proud as punch that we have authors in our genre whose names are as easily recognisable as say, Dan Brown or JK Rowling. The queen of the genre Marian Keyes is an absolute banker to hit and stick like glue to the top of the charts week after week – how many literary prize winning authors can claim that?  The original bonkbusting phenomenon that is Jackie Collins has published over 20 awesome books in more than 40 countries and has 500 million readers worldwide.  Not to be sniffed at.

And let’s not forget those movie moguls who’ve optioned the film rights and screenplays for Bridget Jones, In Her Shoes, PS I Love You, Shopaholic, Devil Wears Prada, (and newly released Something Borrowed) – all box office hits – all novels first.

Of course, I understand that chick lit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – but what I don’t get is the neverending stream of criticism our genre receives.

Neither historical fiction or sci-fi interest me in the slightest but I wouldn’t mock, ridicule or point and laugh at it in the same way that people pick holes in chicklit.  I just don’t buy it.  And don’t read it.

As I’ve grown up, and moved from my twenties to my thirties, and now, forties – so my favourite authors have grown up too. And in the same way as the subjects they wrote about back then were relevant to my life at the time, now they write about issues that are mirrored in my own life now.

Relationship issues like marriage, divorce, babies and bereavement have replaced first jobs, shopping, cocktails and searching for the one.

And that’s what I love about chick lit – yes there is fluff, there are books totally and unashamedly written for the early twenties reader, there are some authors who tackle tricky subjects – rape, adultery, religion, domestic violence, abortion; there are others that make me laugh out loud (thank you Bernie Strachan), authors that warm the cockles of my heart like Milly Johnson and Harriet Evans,  authors like Rebecca Chance and of course Jackie Collins who set my pulse racing, and others that make me weep and wail – but what they all bring to the table is life. Living and loving. Relationships and family – and I’d take that over a zombie tale every day of the week.

But I digress – summer, campaigns, charts, jackets, critics… I could go on (and on) but I’ll leave you with this question – if One Day had been written by a woman, and had the jacket been more pink than orange, would it have been greeted with such across-the-board critical acclaim?  Not judging, just saying, so pass me a slice of watermelon and I’ll crack on.

Visit the fabulous BookMinx at the Books and the City website

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