kellis lit blog

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Reflection on Chick Lit

After reading different articles about chick lit, both the good and the bad, I have decided that I have really come to like this genre. As I said before, this genre was completely new to me at the beginning of the semester. I had seen books like this in the store, but I never paid much attention to the fact that they were a separate genre. I chose to do my blog about chick lit because I was immediately interested in the topic. I have to say that over this semester I have learned so much about chick lit, and I really enjoy reading books of this kind.

According to some articles, chick lit is considered mindless garbage. However, after really getting into the genre myself, I think it is much more than that. Chick lit books are written by women for women. Some of them contain situations that are not realistic to most women, but they all deal with real life issues. Some of these issues include not being pretty, popular, or having the perfect dress, but the fact is, these are all issues some girls in some parts of the world deal with. I myself, cannot relate to some of the issues these characters face, but I know that somebody somewhere can. I enjoy these books because they make me laugh at the stupid things in life that don't need to be taken seriously. I think chick lit books are a great way for girls to relax and take their minds off of bigger issues. And, most of the chick lit books that I have read are quite funny. The humor is a great tool to keep you reading.

As some of the articles I posted said, chick lit can affect some girls in a negative way. Not all of the girls that read these books are pretty and popular, but we need to look at the bigger picture. These are not real life characters, and their lives should not be taken seriously. In my opinion, these books are not meant to have negative outcomes on girls who read them. I think it is important for us to see how girls in other parts of the world live. Although these books are fictional, some girls really live like the characters in the books. It is interesting to see and compare the different issues we all have to deal with. Whether they are realistic or not, we all have problems of our own to conquer. Above all, I think chick lit books are interesting, fun-to-read, and satisfying.

Overall, I think the idea of blogging about a particular genre or topic in YA literature was great. This was my first experience doing a blog, but I enjoyed it. It was a great way to steer away from writing the traditional papers about a certain topic. I think there are many positive benefits to doing a blog and this is definitely something I would do in my own classroom. I enjoyed reading articles and responding to them in my own way. I also liked being able to read my classmates' blogs about completely different topics. The idea never crossed my mind before this class, but I found this assignment very beneficial. It was nice to stay current on issues that relate to my field. I feel that I have had a very successful blogging experience, and I learned so much information that I would have never known. This was a great idea!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Encouaging Young Girls to Read is Important

I just finished reading a really good article. The article was titled, "Young adults should not feel guilty for indulging in chick lit and fluff reads." The article was all about how young adults should be able to read whatever they want to. I completely agree with the stand this article took, and some of the issues that were raised. The brightly colored spines of these books are getting young adults to notice them. And while some think that chick lit is bad, these young adults are still reading. "... the books are accomplishing one thing that any literature-loving person should commend: they're getting teens to read." Although so many people criticize chick lit for the content included in the books, why does it matter what young adult girls choose to read? I think we should be happy that these girls are choosing to read in the first place.

According to Beth Yoke, the executive director of the Young Adult Library Services Association, "students shouldn't hold themselves to a certain standard of literature when they choose to read for pleasure." I agree with this quote 100%. When we choose to read books for fun, we should read books that interest us. That is the whole idea of reading for pleausre; we can curl up with a good book, that according to some, doesn't have a quality story line. Getting teens to read is hard enough, and we should not be telling them what they can read for pleasure.
Yoke states, "teens have a lot of required reading for school... not all of it has to be serious reading."

I think this article brought up a very good point. Teens and adults both have a wide variety of reading tastes. Adults are not just reading Moby Dick; they are also reading People Magazine. The A-List and Gossip girl are really what People magazine is. And, this is extrememly true. These types of magazines are filled with drama, beauty tips, and news about how celebrities are living their lives. If adults can read these kinds of magazines, why are we stopping teen girls from reading chick lit? The genre may not be realistic, but if girls want to read this for fun, let them. Like the article says, I can see a problem if the classics like The Grapes of Wrath is replaced by The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. However, classic novels are not being replaced with chick lit novels in the classroom.

The article also says that chick lit novels are more of an escapist type reading. I think young girls choose to read chick lit because they want to get away from the classics that are taught all year long during school. I don't see a problem with that at all. As long as chick lit novels are not interfering with the novels that are to be read during class, young girls should be able to read them without being criticized for doing so. Maddie Morris, a student at the University of Nebraska says, "I think everyone goes through the fluff-book phase. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, though." And once again, I agree with this statement. We want to encourage students to read because it is so important. So, instead of complaining about young girls reading chick lit novels, let's just be happy that they are reading at all.

A link to the article in full is below:
Young adults should not feel guilty for indulging in chick lit and fluff reads
By: Liz Stinson
Daily Nebraskan
September 15, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" By Judy Blume

After reading this book, I took a different look at chick lit. This book was written many years ago, but it still portrays characters that deal with feminine isuses. Margaret Simon is an eleven year old girl going on twelve. She is at an extremely hard point in her life and has questions about many things going on not only with herself, but with the world around her. Margaret is a young girl who is growing up. There are a lot of things about growing up that she doesn't know or want to talk about, so she talks to God a lot throughout the book. Margaret's family moves to New Jersey, so first of all she has to deal with life in the suburbs. She also has to attend a new school and make all new friends. However, Margaret makes friends rather quickly and they form a secret club called the PTS's.

I think this book was a great example of real chick lit. Margaret Simon and her new group of friends deal with real life questions and issues about growing up. They are worried about bras, boys, and their periods, all of which are part of growing up into a woman. I think any young girl age 10-14 could relate to this book. Reading it as an adult, I found myself thinking about these things and how I used to be scared about these issues, as well. Any young girl is going to have these types of questions as they are growing up, and I felt it was very easy to relate to the girls in the book.

Although there are only a few issues about growing up that are mentioned in the book, it is easy for girls to imagine the life Margaret has because it is so realistic. This books is not like modern day chick lit that focuses on the life of the rich and popular. The girls in the book live completely normal lives, like those of most girls their age. They are not popular, pretty, and rich. They go to a public school and do things as normal 11-12 year old girls do.

Another issue that is brought up in this book is religion. Margaret has one parent who is Christian and one parent who is Jewish. Her parents have told her that she is no religion until she grows up and decides what she wants to be. Throughout the book, Margaret explores different religions in search of one for herself. The idea of religion was interesting to me because I have not read another chick lit novel that brings religion into the story. Modern day chick lit novels don't even touch on the topic of religion, so I was glad this one did. This is also a struggle that some young girls face. They may not be happy with the religion chosen by their parents, so they may explore all other religions, just as Margaret did. Religion is a big part of many people's lives, and this is an important issue in growing up.

All in all, I thought the book Are You There God, It's Me Margaret was great. It was a true chick lit novel that so many young girls can relate with. Making new frieneds, boys, parties, and growing up physically, are all challenges faced by young girls. The book was great in that it explained exactly what Margaret was thinking and the questions she had. When young girls read this book, they will not feel like they are the only one who feels scared and worried about growing up. I'm glad that I read this book because it gave me another look at a different kind of chick lit.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chick Lit in the Classroom

I found a very interesting article about how one University used chick lit in their class. Iryce Baron a teacher of English 281, "Women in the Literary Imagination," used the chick lit genre to teach her class. I think this is very interesting because you don't hear about many high schools or colleges using chick lit in their lesson plans. English 281 is "an overview of the chick lit genre, a new genre of women's literature that is post-feminist and focuses on strong, quirky, comical females and the issues they face." Baron says that she became interested in the chick lit genre when Bridget Jones's Diary first came to the United States. The book, Bridget Jones's Diary is all about women's issues, including things like marriage, and acceptance. The class at this particular University was using Bridget Jones's Diary as a modern-day Pride and Prejudice.

I really like this idea of incorporating chick lit into the classroom, but I think there are very few chick lit novels that could be used to do this. Chick lit novels that have potential to be used in the classroom really have to have substance and quality material in them. It may be hard to find one that a class can relate to and use to better understand real women's issues in society. According to Baron, "the genre has evolved and expanded. It now includes a middle-aged audience, as well as a teenage audience, and it focuses on even more issues, such as divorce and ethnicity." I think this is a good quote by Baron, but chick lit novels need to portray a lifestyle that more people can relate to. It's great that the characters are of different ages and races, but the lives they live do not compare to most people, especially most college aged students. Baron also says that, "Although things have changed, women are still dealing with many of the same issues, such as inequality." I think this quote is true, but not many of the chick lit novels I have read have characters dealing with this problem.

I really do like how Iryce Baron incorporated chick lit into her classroom. According to this article she is the only professor at any college in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zeeland that offers a chick lit course. That is pretty amazing to me. However, I can understand why chick lit courses are not offered more. I personally think chick lit has a long way to come before it could be very useful to students. Although Bridget Jones's Diary is a good, solid chick lit novel, there needs to be more like it. That book deals with real life women's issues while most other chick lit novels do not. I would like to see more chick lit novels with more realistic characters. I enjoy reading novels in which I can relate to the characters in some way, and I think most others do as well.

Baron said that she teaches the course because women in this culture can identify with chick lit characters, and though chick lit is comical, it deals with serious, feminist issues. Sorry Baron, but I guess I have not read enough good chick lit novels to see this. Yes, some characters do deal with realistic life problems, but none of them seem like true feminist issues. I would love to read more chick lit novels that do though.

Barons English 281 course is divided into three parts: issues about body image and weight; sex, dating and working women; and marriage and maternity. She has chosen three different chick lit novels that are representativeof the topics. Brooke Potthast, one of Baron's students said, "during class discussions, students open up and share their feelings about women's images. It helped me to see that I wasn't the only one that has, at one time, had a negative self-image." I think this is a very positive result of using the chick novels to discuss women's images. When it comes to issues like this, I think chick lit novels could possibly be beneficial. However, the characters need to portray more women who deal with these issues.

Overall, I think using chick lit in the classroom could be both beneficial and harmful. I have considered this idea myself, as a future English teacher of middle and high school. However, as I continue to say, I want to see more realistic chick lit novels. I understand that the chick lit genre is all about looks, personality, and being popular, but we need to have more students be able to relate to these kinds of issues. Using chick lit in the classroom could be harmful to those students who don't have the perfect looks or live the perfect life. Students like that would have a hard time relating to characters. But, chick lit could be extremely beneficial if it dealt with realistic issues young girls face.
A link to the article in full is below:

Class Finds Meaning in Chick Lit
By: Amy Fishman
Daily Illini
February 18, 2005
"The A-List" By Zoey Dean

After reading this book, I would definitely have to say that the A-List is pure chick lit. This book is all about Anna Percy and her next to perfect life. Anna is about to get an internship at a literary journal, and she is so happy to get away from the high school scene. However, the internship falls through and Anna leaves to go to L.A. to live with her father. She has lived on the East Coast forever and wants a change. On the plane to L.A., Anna meets Ben, a boy who sweeps her off her feet. They make plans for that night, but Anna encounters some problems. At the end of the book Anna is left with nothing and totally needs to start over.

The problems that Anna Percy encounters in this book are completely unrealistic. They are not problems that the normal teenage, young adult girl would face. Anna makes her problems out to be so bad, but really they are simple problems that could be resolved without drama. I guess that's what makes the book though. Without these trivial problems that Anna faces, this book probably wouldn't exist. I found it very hard to relate to any of the characters in the book, especially Anna, because she lives such a different life than a normal person. Anna has so much money that she doesn't even know what to do wtih it all. And, she has it all, from the clothes, to being one of the most popular girls in school.

Throughout my blog, I have noticed that this is what chick lit is supposed to be about. The characters are supposed to live the rich, stuck up life. They are supposed to be perfect and have everything in life they could possibly want. However, I think that may be the one thing that turns a lot of readers off. It is so hard to relate to these types of characters unless you live a life like this as well. It is hard to understand their problems that seem so small, when really there are much bigger problems in life to deal with. I try no to think about these things so much as I read these kinds of books, but it is a problem I have encountered. I would like to read the book just to read it instead of trying to compare my life with the life of the characters in the book.

I found an article that describes chick lit. "Chick lit claims to be representative of women's lives, their hopes, fears, dreams, and values. But it's actually about white, upper-middle-class American and Western Eurpoean women." I think this quote is very true. Chick lit tries to be representative of most women's lives, but most of it is not. I think the newer chick lit is even less representative than the older stuff. However, maybe this is how it is really supposed to be. We would not have half of the chick lit novels we do today if the characters didn't live their perfect lives.

"Chick-lit defenders like to point out that there is black and Latina chick lit, chick lit for older women, but this is all tokenism- a chance for women of every color and age to be portrayed as annoying, shallow twits." This quote made me think a lot. Although there is black and Latina chick lit, all of the characters seem to be portrayed in exactly the same ways. They are all popular, rich, and stuck up. It doesn't seem to matter the race or the age of the characters in the novels.

Overall, I think The A-list was 100% pure chick lit. If you want to get a taste of what chick lit is really all about, read this book. It may make you want to read more chick lit novels, or it may turn you off from the genre completley.

The A-List
By: Zoey Dean

The link to the article mentioned in this blog is:
Chick Lit is Hurting America
By: Anonymous
Boston's Weekly Dig
August 29, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Black and White Chick Lit

I found this article extremely interesting. This article brings black women into the whole perspective of chick lit. I have to say that when I think chick lit, race doesn’t really come to mind. I usually picture the gorgeous, young, white girl who has it all. I have never really thought about the fact that in every chick lit book that I have read so far, none of the characters have been black. Or at least they have never been identified as being black.
However, this is an interesting idea that needs to be considered. It is not only young, white women or girls who have it all. There are plenty of African American women and girls who have it all, as well.

According to this article, Lyah Beth LeFlore co-authored Cosmopolitan Girls, a book about “two black women in search of love, designer pumps, and the perfect martini.” Lyah says, “There are a lot of amazing Black women living interesting, glamorous lives, and it was time our stories be told.” I completely agree with this quote. Stories about black women living the rich, perfect lives are rare. However, African American women need to be incorporated into some chick lit novels because they too live some lives that every girl dreams of.

There are some popular new titles that have come about in the African American chick lit novel genre. The Accidental Diva, Bling, and The Gotham Diaries are a few of the new titles that have recently come out. Black chick lit is a new idea for most, including the authors of most of these new books. The article states, “Although the books are aimed at Blacks, the publishers and authors hope to score a crossover success with White readers of chick-lit.” I am not completely sure how well this idea will work, but it is definitely worth a try. I don’t know how many White women read books aimed towards Blacks, but I think the idea is great. It is time for our White readers to gain some insight on the rich Black life as well. In my opinion, it is a new concept that is worth discovering.

The novels aimed toward the Black women contain some of the same material as chick lit novels for White women. I do not think there really needs to be a separate genre for chick lit, but it seems that’s how it is going to be. I would like to see some chick lit novels contain both black and white girls living the same kind of lifestyle. It doesn’t really seem fair to have two separate kinds of chick lit novels both containing the same ideas and materials, but having characters of different races. However, Black chick lit novels are centered on single women with dream jobs balancing both the personal and professional lives, just as White chick lit novels are.

I am curious to see how popular this new idea of chick lit will become. I think Black readers will love this idea because chick lit is gaining so much popularity with young girls dreaming to have it all. According to Matt Campbell, head buyer of Black Fiction for Waldenbooks, “The market for contemporary Black fiction is booming. In the past two years alone, sales at our stores have grown 25 percent each year.” So the idea for Black chick lit isn’t totally new, but it is really now just getting out to consumers.

“Once these Black women readers realize that these books are out here, they will really catch on, and they’re going to be big.” I think this quote is true because Black women deserve to read these types of stories just as White women do. In the future, I hope to see chick lit novels portraying both white and black characters, instead of having such a divide.
A link to the article in full is below:

Market for ‘Chick-lit’ Diversifies
By: Lola Ogunnaike
New York Times
June 3, 2004

Monday, October 16, 2006

Chick Lit is Here to Stay

I just finished reading an article titled, “Chick lit, for better or worse, is here to stay.” This article brings up some very interesting points, some of which make me upset.

“Like any genre that unleashes a flood of imitators, there is good chick lit and bad, books that sell well and those that disappear without a trace. Even the term chick lit has created a backlash, with some practitioners believing the term is demeaning and limiting.”

This quote definitely states the obvious when it says that there is good chick lit and bad. Like any genre, there is going to be good and bad books that are considered chick lit. However, I almost starting to think that some people are taking this whole chick lit thing a bit too far. I understand that some people are always going to disagree with things, but honestly it is just a genre. We all have genres that we like and don’t like, but is the term “chick lit” really demeaning? It seems to me that it would be easier if people who don’t like these types of books didn’t say anything at all. They can have their opinions, but it doesn’t need to go this far.

I think that no matter what people say, chick lit will always have people who love it. The article also talks about how booksellers and publishers are claiming that chick lit titles lack quality and originality. “The market is oversaturated- something some publishers call “the curse of the pink cover.” After reading this, it made me think that some people are going crazy just about certain types of books. I mean, yes, they do portray some images that are unrealistic, but overall young girls can relate to the character and the stories they share. There is no need to say that chick lit is a curse.

A new author was also discussed in the article. Her name is Jennifer Solow and she has recently written, The Booster. The character in the book has an addiction with shoplifting. Critics say that Jennifer did research on addiction and the book isn’t packaged in pink and blue. I personally don’t think that the colors on the cover of a book should matter. The quality of writing is the most important.

“… the genre is all about voice, and if you have a really fresh, really arresting voice, you can still tell a story about a single girl in the city. It’s such an interesting time in a woman’s life. There will always be interest in that moment when every decision is still right in front of you.” – Jennifer Weiner

I think this quote is amazing. It all comes down to how a particular story is written. If it is a good, solid piece of writing people are going to want to read it. Despite all of the misconceptions about chick lit, the genre is full of enlightening stories to be shared. Some of these stories we can relate to and others may be unrealistic. However, I think it is important to keep in mind that what we are reading is just a book, nothing to get upset over. The link to full article is below:

Chick lit, for better or worse, is here to stay
By: Carol Memmott,
USA Today
June 21, 2006
“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” By Ann Brashares

After reading this novel, I see a different perspective on chick lit. This book is about four girls who have been friends since birth, and this is the first summer they are going to be apart. They each pass around a pair of pants, which come with rules. All of the girls are different sizes, but ironically the same pair of pants fits all of them. The girls go their separate ways for the summer and all fall in love in one way or another.

Like most chick lit novels, the center of attention is the girls and their lives. However, the girls in this novel did not live the most extravagant lives like we all want to believe. In most chick lit books, the girls are popular, rich, beautiful, and stuck up. I did not feel that any of the girls were like that. They all live normal lives for their age, and aren’t considered out of the ordinary. The girls all face problems in the book, which are resolved, but not magically. I think the girls deal with their problems like normal girls would, and try their best to get past the hard times.

This book tied into an article that I found titled, “Chick lit: Sex, shoes, and substance.” Although the book was not primarily about these material things, it is still considered chick lit. Emily Griffin, a popular author of chick lit writes, “I think it’s important to remember that the quality of writing is really what distinguishes one book from another, even within a genre.” I completely agree with this quote. Not all chick lit books are written the same, therefore the characters in them do not all resemble the rich, stuck up girls. I thought The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a great chick lit novel because it was more focused on reality. The girls were down to earth, faced real life dilemmas, and fell in love. In my opinion, it was a very well written story.

The article above also talks about how chick lit books are good sources of real life situations. Jennifer Weiner, another well known author of chick lit states, “I think that there’s some built in implications that go with the term and I think a lot of it is ‘Oh, it’s just this silly, frivolous, sex and shopping, boys and shoes book.’ And while I do think that chick lit books are entertaining… I think that a lot of the books are dealing with more than that.” Once again, I agree with this quote. I think that chick lit books don’t need to be thought of in such negative ways. They are not all about shopping, sex, and boys, and if some critics of chick lit read these books they would see that.

“I think the genre encourages women to be proud of being women and our unique concerns are something to be proud of.” This quote says a lot. Many chick lit novels are written to help women. And, most are written by women for women who are dealing with the same issues or dilemmas. I think chick lit is a serious way for women to cope with their problems and read about characters who are doing the same. Overall, I think chick lit is a very interesting genre, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a great way for me to start into the genre. Link to the full article is below:

Chick lit: Sex, shoes – and substance
By: Kelly Gyenes
CNN
September 8, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Girls and Literature

After reading the article titled, "Selling Girls Short," I can see how girls are targeted to read chick lit. In such books the girls have it all from the good looks, the sex appeal, and the ability to get any guy they wish. However, is this a good idea to be sharing with the young girls who are reading these books? The article talks about how girls are portrayed in such books and even in magazines.

"Every activity, from ballet to basketball, is reinterpreted to encourage girls to become pod people who accessorize well, mind thier sex appeal, and snag boyfriends."

Well after hearing that, it seems that there could be a problem with fiction books dedicated to girls. These images are not what we want girls to see. Not all girls are seen as pretty and popular like the characters in these novels. When girls are reading about these "it girls" who have it all, how does that make them feel? The image that is portrayed to them is not a very positive one. Like the article says, there is enough selling of girls going on with movies and on television, that we really don't need it in our books, as well. The article also brought up a new title to me. A book entitled, Packaging Girls, is all about how girls are told they should live their lives by being sex symbols chasing after boys. This book throws the message at girls and who they should want to be seen as. The authors, Lamb and Brown write, "You can't turn off the world- so teach your daughter to read it." I do not agree with this quote at all. There is a point in a book when you should draw the line. Some girls are able to read these books and remember that they are just books, but others cannot. Mesages and images are put into young girls minds and they want to be created into someone that they are not.

In my opinion, chick lit is fine to a point. There is no need to make the characters in the book have great sex appeal, and perfect looks. This is really not reality and we should not be encouraging our chidren to read this. Some girls will always want to read these types of books, and that is okay, but I think we need to remind these girls that these characters do not exist and nobody is perfect. The link to read this article in full is below.

Selling Girls Short
By: Lyn Mikel Brown
Published in Colby Magazine
Summer 2006 Volume 95 no. 2