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Published: Sunday, 11/13/2005

I confess - I'm a chick lit fan

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sure, I ve read The Grapes of the Wrath.

And yes, I ve plunged into Native Son. (Seriously, I read it just for fun.)

But although I continue to pick up classic novels in a personal quest to read those books considered to be among the greatest of our time, I just can t help myself when I see an intriguing pink cover.

You know the ones books with words like confessions and diary in the title.

These aren t the stories that will get picked by my male-infused book club or by most book clubs, for that matter, and I d have to agree. There s not much to discuss in the narrative of a shopaholic buying her way through Manhattan while trying to snag the man of her dreams.

But that doesn t mean there shouldn t be a nook on the bookshelf for these tales.

Chick lit, as it is commonly known, usually tells the stories of young, single, professional women trying to make it in the big city often New York or London.

Usually fashion-conscious and often low on cash, they always find ways of getting into romantic trouble. They re ordinary girls facing ordinary burdens while living, for the most part, ordinary lives.

Now, who can t relate to that?

Interesting to me is that many of our young heroines are struggling freelance writers or fashion reporter wannabes perhaps offering some insight into the former lives of the authors.

Plots are simple, characters lovable, and twists are almost nonexistent.

This isn t literature, people. This is good ol fashioned, feel-good storytelling.

These are the type of books I pick up on a cozy evening, glass of wine in hand, curled up in my overstuffed chair; books that let me escape into a crazy, metropolitan world where everything works out just fine in the end. They inspire an involuntary smile, because I remember when I did the exact same thing.

I m not saying that I relate to everything that our fashionistas do. I mean, I ve never gone into debt to buy the perfect accessory. But shopping for a pick-me-up item to temporarily chase away the blues now, that I ve done. And buying another coat to add to the 19 that are already in my closet, just because it s on sale: Guilty.

I guess it s the same guilty pleasure that makes me hunt out pastel covers at book sales and squeeze in a quick, light read between novels.

Admittedly, accounts of bad dates, bargain shopping, and latte lunches are not for everyone. But don t be fooled into thinking that chick lit is only for those who spend the rest of their reading time buried nose deep in Harlequin romances. And don t buy into the stereotype that these books are written for those who can t appreciate the prose of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Authors like Sophie Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Carole Matthews (For Better, For Worse) are simply relating life how it often is full of growing up, moving on, falling apart, and getting it all back together.

There you have it. I ve confessed.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-724-6076.



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