For a long time, my reading modus operandi was ridiculously exclusive. I refused to read books about children, anyone over the age of 40, animals, men, or losers. No nonfiction. No historic or rural settings. No magic-realism. No nerdy sci-fi. Very few male authors and mostly limited to ones from North America.
What did that leave? Novels by and about successful, contemporary, urban women in their 20s and 30s. But it got even more specific. I didn’t read (or openly admit to reading, at least) “chick lit” novels. No Sophie Kinsella or Emily Giffin. They had to be more high-brow, more literary. Chick lit for the discerning woman.
My reading tastes have thankfully evolved to include novels about contemporary urban men in their 20s and 30s, nonfiction books about women, and contemporary novels with children as (minor) characters.
However, when it comes to going on holiday, especially beach vacations where I tend to indulge in excessive laziness and an afternoon margarita (or two), I revert back to my old ways. As my week in the Caribbean is booked and fast approaching, I thought I’d get into the spirit by offering up some of my high-brow chick lit faves:
One Day, by David Nichols, is a clever love story with extremely well-wrought characters. Disregard the horrible movie version – the book is a million times better.
The Dive From Clausen’s Pier, by Ann Packer, attempts to answer the question of what would happen if the love of your early-20-something life became severly quadriplegic. Would you stay? Would you go? The main character’s decisions regarding this premise are fascinating.
If you like a little environmental activism with your chick lit, may I recommend a hearty dose of Ruth Ozeki, whose novels My Year of Meats and All Over Creation feature plotlines about the meat and oil industries, with a healthy dash of humour.
And finally, for the hipsters who like their high-brow chick lit set in ironic diners and art galleries, try Sheila Heti’s experimental and provocative novel How Should a Person Be. While not for everyone, those who can relate to having a “pretentious 20s” phase will get a kick out of Heti’s post-modern existential identity crisis couched in sex, drugs and party dresses.