Monday, July 1, 2013 How Chick Lit Transformed a Book Club…and Its Members
By: Ann and Bryn Bauer
With Literary Fiction being all the rage, I have found that the Chick Lit sub-genre has now become an object of scorn. Titles are now whispered behind hands, listed FB as guilty pleasures and hidden behind other books on the shelf when guests come over. A few years ago, I would have done the same. That is, until my book club started reading exclusively in this genre. Through this change, we found our conversations ease, sharing of perspectives flow and our friendships solidify. And it all happened because one our members threw Tuesdays with Morrie out of her car window.
Our book club had been meeting for five months and we chose the normal Literary Fiction selections. You know, the kind of stuff you hear about on NPR, or see on Oprah’s book list. But, I wasn’t feeling connected with these women. Making friends was the reason I joined a book club in the first place. When we met, the first part was fun, eating, drinking wine and chatting. But when we got to the book discussion everyone seemed a little too measured in their opinions. Not walking on eggshells exactly but the discussion felt like English class. I wasn’t learning anything about my new friends, just some vague opinions prompted by library developed questions. In the beginning I thought “Well, it’s early and we don’t know each other that well.” By the fifth month I was just about ready to give up the group. Luckily, on our sixth book club meeting our group got a wakeup call.
After our usual wine and food session, we all sat in Sarah’s living room. She sat down and said, “I don’t really want to discuss this book.” We had been reading Tuesday’s with Morrie. Someone asked why and with a slap of her knee she shouted, “Because I threw the God dammed thing out of the car window three days ago! I hate that book! Why can’t we read something happy?” Everyone looked stunned and I could tell Sarah was incredibly embarrassed so I opened up and said, “I hated it too.” I did. Sarah said that it reminded her way too much of what she had gone through with her father and she couldn’t go through it again. I said that I had felt the same about another book regarding child abduction as I had been a victim as a child. Then, the most miraculous thing happened. Around the circle each woman said how much she had disliked the experience of reading and discussing particular books because it dredged up some past pain. We had enough drama in our individual lives to spend our precious free time reading about other peoples’ drama. So, we decided to read things that were fun and reflected our life goals and/or dreams. I mean, who doesn’t want to dream about living on a yacht or having some high power career with gobs of money? So, that’s what we did.
Over the next six months we selected books exclusively from the Chick Lit category. Each time the conversation was smooth and authentic. Our first meeting, the tone became instantly lighter. We would of course talk about the plot and characters but then we would inevitably shoot off into tangent conversations about our lives, hopes, dreams and goals. Our selections gave us the ability and the platform to talk about those topics easily. Now, I know more about these amazing women than I ever would have if we kept on with “real literature”. I now attribute my new friends and my feeling of escape to our change in direction. I attribute it to the positive effects of Chick Lit.
Ann and Bryn are sisters who share their voracious appetite for reading, traveling and living life. Their novel Cuban Sun was born after one sister's struggle with cancer prompted the realization that life is too short to hold off on your dreams. Both sisters live with their families in North Carolina.