Book Rants: The Little Shop/Cafe/Bakery of Nonsense
There’s been loads of debate around the “chick lit” genre. For anyone interested in the “is it sexist/demeaning/a barreir to women writers” debate, this Huffington post article is quite an interesting read. I’m generally of the opinion that the term “chick lit” is silly but the genre is great and should be celebrated more.
I really hate book snobbery. I was in a seminar last year, in which my group were discussing commercial literature and whether bestselling novels could be considered ~literature~. I was fairly annoyed that most of my fellow postgrads felt that popular books weren’t serious enough or weighty enough to be proper books with significance. I mean, really. It’s the same level of annoying as those people who’re like “oh I love this underground band, you’ve probably never heard of them”. Ugh. Go away.
We’ll leave the whole “what deserves to be literature” debate for another day. We’re here to talk chick lit (for want of a better term). The genre itself has been branded as postfeminism at its worst, insulting to intelligent women who want to read or write about the lives of contemporary women and even perpetuating the view that women are shallow idiots that only buy books if the covers are sprinkled in glitter and the pages filled with cocktails, men with abs and lipstick.
I really don’t agree. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the majority of the “chick lit” style books. Granted, there are some very badly written novels (like there are in any genre) and some that probably shouldn’t have been published. But there are also loads of brilliant writers that create beautiful stories within the genre. I personally enjoy reading them just as much as I enjoy reading fantasy novels, detective novels and the classics. If that makes me a shallow idiot that likes glitter and lipstick (I really do like both of those things), then c’est la vie.
But I do have a problem with the genre at the moment. Why on earth is everything called The Little Shop/Bakery/Cafe/Deli of Something. I kid you not, there are the following on Amazon:
- 166 Little Shops
- 19 Little Cafes
- 5 Little Bakeries
- 23 Little Book Shops
Between writers, editors, agents and publishers, could they not come up with something ~a little~ better than that? It’s just upsetting. Some of the books are actually really great (and by writers that I do like a lot, like Trisha Ashley who writes really well and has great characters) but I’m getting so put off things that are called The Little [insert small business] of [insert inane concept or seaside/village]. It’s cliche, underwhelming and just lazy.
The genre doesn’t need anymore ammunition for critics. If we keep calling good books by lazy titles, I do think that some of the criticicsms for the genre become justified. How can we take books seriously if publishers/editors/agents/writers are putting in half-arsed efforts when it comes to book titles?
And if we’re going to get all feminist up in huurrrrr, it’s just a bit demeaning for characters who are generally strong, independent women who run their own businesses. Maybe next time we can see a book called The Large, Successful Empire (About to Expand into the EMENA Region) of Happily Ever After.