Have you read anything interesting lately? I have to admit, I don’t always answer this question honestly. I’m almost always reading a book, and it’s usually interesting, or I don’t finish reading it. But I don’t want to confess to reading a trashy novel and enjoying it. I don’t want to tell others that I’m enjoying a chick lit novel or a movie star biography, because it’s kind of like admitting to eating a high calorie dessert. I do that with TV shows, too. I don’t like to admit that “Survivor” is one of my favorite shows, and that I’ve been a loyal fan since its first season. But why do I let others’ opinions intimidate me? So what if I occasionally enjoy light reading or a reality TV show? Because I’m a librarian and should have more literary or refined tastes? A former coworker (a librarian)once derided Stephen King, saying “Who reads that trash?” In a soft voice, I replied, “Me.” She ignored my admission of guilt and changed the subject.
I try not to judge others for their reading tastes or choice in TV programs, and I hope they won’t judge me. So, I’ll be honest from now on whenever someone asks me, “What are you reading?”
By the way, I just finished Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s “The Husband Habit” (meh), and I am now reading, for the second time, “Caramelo” by Sandra Cisneros–one of my all-time favorite books. And, Wednesday night, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Survivor” finale while eating a chocolate candy bar (yum).
I’ve written about chick lit on this blog before, how I’m losing interest in a genre I once enjoyed. That’s why I’m surprised to find myself reading another chick lit novel. This time it’s Friendship by Emily Gould. I read a review that described it as an interesting take on friendship, and that captured my interest. But, so far, it’s just another chick lit book without much of a plot and with characters who have poor self-esteem and sad love lives. I really shouldn’t write as if I’m above these books, because I wrote a sort of chick lit novel and published it last year. But what’s lacking in Friendship is the sense of humor that makes the genre fun to read.
After years of reading too much chick lit, I’m wanting to expand my reading horizons and sample books from various genres. I have been doing just that the last few years and have discovered some excellent authors: Donna Tartt, Tana French, Celeste Ng, Sarah Waters, Brando Skyhorse, to name a few. But what I will always enjoy about chick lit are the happy endings and the humorous stories. That’s still reason enough to pick one up occasionally and enjoy a fun read.
I enjoy chick lit but maybe not as much as I once did. I started reading it a few years ago, about ten years into my marriage. I was single for what seemed like an eon (sounding like a character in one of those books). Why would I want to revisit those sometimes lonely, painful years of singlehood by reading books about young women looking for love? Maybe because my own story ended in a happy marriage, and I look back on my single years with more nostalgia than is merited? Or maybe it’s because I miss the close friendships I developed with other singles during those years? Those friendships were never quite the same after my marriage (in fact, some of them faded away, for one reason or another). Whatever the case, I enjoy the stories of single women, their friendships, the challenges they face, and the humor that is imparted through chick lit. My favorite titles in the genre are Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner, and Waking Up in the Land of Glitter, by Kathy Cano-Murilllo (hilarious book–I laughed a lot).
But why does it seem that I’m now losing interest in these books? Without naming names, I’ve read some lousy chick lit lately. The characters have such negative self-images (too much cellulite, too many bad hair days, big feet, big hands, fat wrists–yes, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea) , it’s difficult to root for them. If they don’t like themselves, how do they expect someone else to love them, or the readers to care about them? Yes, as a single, I certainly remember occasionally wallowing in self-pity, like rolling around in a vat of chocolate-chip ice cream. But for the most part, I felt good about myself and what I had accomplished in my life, especially as a professional in my field. Maybe I’ll take a break from reading these books unless someone recommends a good one. Do you have any recommendations for me?