Discussion, Romance, Women's

“Guilty Pleasure” Labels: Is It Just Schoolgirl Mentality You Can’t Let Go Of? Why You Should Read Chick Lit (At Least Sometimes!)

Lately I’ve been giving you all sorts of confessions.

Like, seriously, Evelina – how many more things can you confess? Or do you keep making these up to draw readers? 😂

Well, no. I’m not making them up! I mean, there are probably plenty of dark secrets embarrassing details in your own life you would be willing to confess to your peers for views because you want them to get to know you better.

So this time, let’s talk about expectations – mostly those from your own self.

(Now you’re wondering how I’ll tie this to books. Ohh, I can! Don’t underestimate me 😉)

Anyway, I was always the alternative kid – ever since my early teens. Perhaps too shy and too much of a good student to really dress for it (although I did have my pointy collar days), but I was always the girl who listened to Muse, Rasmus and the like and was always grossly misunderstood for her tastes, and perhaps aiming to be that way. In fact, some people used to call me hipster kitty. That’s a meme you won’t know if you’re in your early twenties now. Here’s a handy example:

A meme with hipster kitty – a cat in a hoodie and glasses, saying “I liked the book before the movie poster became the cover”; via Pinterest

Of course, that’s before hipsters became mainstream. Naturally!!!

Anyway, so you get it. Listens to Muse. Reads Murakami and Stephen. King. Studies Japanese. Watches The Death Note and Stargate. (To be honest, I listened to Eminem at some point even xD) Let me tell you, an image like that has got to be carefully kept up! It gets labels that are attached to you, and in order to be understood among at least those few that do understand you, you need to keep yourself within some sort of limits. Which means…

God forbid anyone sees you listen to pop or house music

(yeah, you don’t know what that is either, maybe. House music was the mainstream dance remix stuff back when I was a teen. An absolute no go, if you’re indie.)

God forbid your friends sniff out that you’d watch a romcom.


And god forbid, out of all of this, DO NOT read chick lit.
DO NOT be seen with a girly romance book! You WILL NOT live this down!!

A GIF of a dog, embarrassedly hiding behind his paws (it’s cute!)

I mean, everyone has those experiences in their teens.

Teenage life can be incredibly limiting, because it seems we want so desperately to put everything into boxes, to make it fit and somehow MAKE SENSE when it so clearly doesn’t and it simply drives us to despair. But the sad thing is, that for a lot of us, this sticks. Some don’t understand it. It’s what creates so much prejudice between different groups of humans, I believe.

Although everything is so vastly different after we leave school, we keep so much of the notions.

I could make an entire ‘nother post of this! (Think: girl on girl hate, entitlement, who’s cool and who’s not, and whatnot…) But not this time. This time let’s talk about books. I mean, eventually, I promise this will be about books 😂

But I have one non-bookish confession to make first.

I LOVE “Love you like a love song” by Selena Gomez.

A GIF of a woman wearing a helmet, nervously breathing out, trying to gather her wits

I love it to the point of getting shivers down my spine every single time I hear it.

It’s not logically justifiable!! I don’t like the artist or any other of her songs. I don’t really like that style. And the lyrics aren’t even that deep! But just… something about that song just reaches my heart, I don’t know why – it just does.

A GIF of Marilyn Monroe shrugging

Like I said though, for a girl who listened to Muse, dressed in black and worried over being seen with a “silly” book, this has been somewhat of a personal tragedy since the song came out.

Okay, so I’m hyperbolizing a little bit.

But realizing that you’re deep into your (very late) twenties and you’re still embarrassed about liking a pop song..? I mean… Who’s even going to care??

Chances are they’d be more happy to hear me sing THAT at the karaoke than my typical depressive crap.

But trying to tell myself that took several years.

Actually, I believe this song was one of the first things that started to crack my self-imposed limits and rules. That I have to be this or that, that I have to belong, that I have to stick to what I am or am supposed to be or somehow my integrity will be damaged and I won’t be who I have always claimed to be. I’m not saying I’m done with the journey, but I’m certainly well along the way.

Which point finally gets me to the books!

A GIF of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, singing next to a bookcase

So you remember how I said I would have been embarrassed in my teens to be seen with a chick lit book? It might be true that a lot of chick lit is actually run of the mill and made for quick consumption, or simply to make some money. The wide demand for it allows for a lot of fluff to enter the market. But it’s definitely not true that ALL chick lit is sub-par. Which, unfortunately, tends to be the sometimes unspoken, silent consensus among some book bloggers. Some of them may stay silent about it out of politeness, but ohhh, they judge. They judge alright. (Sub-par is not the word most of them would use.)

But let’s not get negative – it’s the blogging community that made me start to want to change my views! Yes, I admit, when I started blogging, I was also of the deep belief that chick lit and a lot of romance is cheap and worthless stuff. But then I met all of these wonderful, incredibly smart bloggers who read primarily romance and chicklit!

I was intrigued.

Little by little, I got to know their world, and started trying to get into these books on purpose. Because there’s one thing we “serious literature” readers seriously miss out by not reading chick lit or romance. No, actually, there are two things.

First of all, we miss out on the mood.

A GIF of a girl going aww and making corresponding facial expressions

A lot of literary reads, scifi reads, even fantasy reads are, let’s admit it, REALLY DEPRESSING. It’s actually what I’ve been struggling with lately If you’re going through a stressful patch right now, reading MOST BOOKS will get you down! It’s the sad truth.

But romance and a lot of chick lit is written in an upbeat way, or even if all of it isn’t, there’s a whole category of books written just for the happy ending. (There are possible problems with finding the happy ending solely in romance, or concentrating on it, but not all chick lit is romance based, and you can really take your pick. I also end up triggered by a lot of romance books, but I’m currently trying to work around that by picking and choosing as well.) Basically, if life is tough right now, chick lit is sort of… like self care. Bottom line is, chick lit and romance focus on happiness – and if not happiness, at least a road to it or to finding your own self and understanding your needs. There’s a lot of positivity there, quite often.

Why should you discover #chicklit? Bottom line is, chick lit and #romance books focus on happiness – and if not happiness, at least a road to it or to finding your own self and understanding your needs. Click To Tweet

Then there’s another thing. Chick lit and romance primarily focuses on the woman’s life and its realities.

That’s all there is to it. Barring serious women’s literature (which is usually also pretty depressing, even if I love it and it’s meaningful and really needed), not many books actually center on the life of a woman. So why is chick lit considered cheap and superficial?

Oh, I don’t know… maybe because women have been thought to be mere shadows of a human being for the past several centuries at the least??

I don’t know, do you see a trend here..?

A GIF of Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air making a confused face

Anyway. Don’t let your “image” or what the society things about “superficial human lives” deter you from exploring this branch of literature. You might find something that surprises you. You might find unexpected depth. You might find… yourself.

Don't let your “image” deter you from exploring #chicklit and #romance. You might find unexpected depth. You might find… yourself. Click To Tweet

Here are a couple of romance / chick lit books I found truly meaningful and enjoyed!

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is both realistic and magical – like most of her books. Sometimes I feel like if I only read her books, my moods would be so much lighter, brighter. Because even if bad things do happen in her books, you know it’s not for keeps. There’s an unspoken belief of the world actually being better than it looks, of powers secretly out there to help you or save you. And there’s always that magical thing or two that just colors the story with glittery sprinkles. It’s a world in which books with things you need to read at that moment simply appear out of nowhere and follow you around. It’s a world where water boils in kettles when a man you love walks up to you, even if you’re not together. It’s also a world where well meaning, even if lost souls appear in the weirdest of places to nudge your life in the direction you know you need to get nudged in.

And it was just so with this book. I could call it a clean romance, but it wasn’t all romance. It’s what I’d call a woman’s book though. It encompasses so much more than just romance – it’s about finding forgiveness, sisterhood, your place in life and what you want to make of it. It’s about so many things you’ll be able to relate to, even if you haven’t actually been in one of those situations yourself. The Sugar Queen is built on unreliable narrators and clueless people, or perhaps lost people, and it’s written so that you’re always a step ahead of the characters – even if you’re a gullible reader (like me!) It makes you worry about them all the more. It makes you want to lecture them over the page, cause maybe they’ll hear you if you’re loud enough! Definitely a very recommended book.

Speaking of Sarah Addison Allen… The Girl Who Chased the Moon is also one of my five-star rated books. It was one of my most magical reads of the year! I was absolutely in love with this sweet, adorable story. For anyone who loved Practical Magic, this is the softer and more sepia tale that will not give you even a drop of sadness. Well, maybe a little bit of wistfulness! The author just charms you with the innocent and lost main character, the sleepy town, the unusual family members, and of course, the baking. There were love interests, yes – but for me, the love interests in this book were the cakes! And guess what. There are recipes at the end. If that got you curious, read my full review here.

I can’t exactly give you a good rundown of For Every Solution, A Problem because I read it yeaaaaars before I was a book blogger and don’t actually have a review! It was one of those bossy buddy reads, or otherwise I would have never read it! And I instantly loved it. It was incredibly funny and also sweet, wasn’t overdone in any way and the romance didn’t make me roll my eyes too much! It was just what I needed at the time. Did I mention it was absolutely hilarious??

Oh, The Sunday Lunch Club. How I absolutely adored this read. And how badly it made me stay up and miss sleep at nights. I worried about every single character, and there were so many, and so different! Foreigners, queer people (all sorts of queer people too!), family members, non-family members.. Babies. Grannies. And EVERYONE grows on you! It’s the kind of book where you absolutely can’t let go of the characters, it stays with you for month. I’ve actually got a long review here, so go ahead and read it if you haven’t!

I squeal about The Lantern Series every Halloween. Because it’s a Halloween book series! It’s incredibly, INCREDIBLY sweet, magical and it’s also absolutely squeaky clean! It’s about teens, magic, other worlds and just the goodness that exists in the world, without you actually knowing about it. About how impossible things become possible if only you really, REALLY want them to. Agh, that sounds like any old blurb though. Go and read my review for more info!

Have you not read Attachments yet? Well you should! I can’t outright call it chick lit, because it steers somewhat into the territory of The Rosie Project and so on, making it accessible to guys as well (in my opinion), but I guess it will primarily remain a ‘woman’s’ book anyway. It’s an incredibly witty and sweet story! It’s about people who may have been different but still want to be loved, and it’s also about seeing yourself differently than others do – as well as about stereotypes. But I think, first and foremost, it’s about the friendship between women, and you know the kind of friendship I mean – the kind that you learned to form before you were even in school and the kind you continued well into your adulthood – or at least wish you did. Come read an interview-based review here.

I won Zaremba, Or Love and the Rule of Law back in the day in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway. It was perhaps one of the first English books, delivered to me by the author. It was exciting beyond belief! And I instantly loved it. After which I proceeded to email with the author for a while, and actually this cover here only exists because of our discussions! But don’t think that this affects my opinion of it – I loved the book before all that. It’s just so genuine and smart, and not an open romance at all. It’s kind of an intellectual romance. The main character is also disabled, and the love interest is just SUCH. A. GENTLEMAN. I really have to reread this sometime! So just in case you want to see a super old review of mine from 2014 (two years before I became a book blogger), here you go!

And how can I miss mentioning Eligible? I know there are many opinions about this one, and not all of them good – in particular, you might feel very strongly about it, if you love Pride and Prejudice (and can possibly quote it) – because this is a modern retelling of it. Of course, I’ve read the Austen classic, but it has been a while, so I guess that let me enjoy Eligible in the way it was meant to be enjoyed. And I found it absolutely hilarious! Hilarious and sweet, and I think the way Mr Darcy was ‘modernized’ was great. I can definitely recommend this one, although a heavy big book, you will basically breeze through it and have a great time.

That’s it! Thank you for sticking with me on such a long post. And for the ending… let me soothe you with a good song.

Do you also have prejudices against certain genres? Do you read romance and chick lit in general, or do you try to steer clear of them? Have you ever wondered about the beliefs that might make you want to do that?