Why Bother Reading Chick-Lit

jewelsofthesunMixed in with bag of qualifications and academic letters is an English degree. I’ve studied and written and read some of the best literature on the planet according to the almighty ‘They’.

I have also read a lot of smut. During certain moods and times of the year, I devour Harlequin novels like a Canadian eating blueberry flapjacks. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of reading a genre that most people won’t admit to enjoying.

Alas, I will come out of the chick-lit closet and admit that I’m a lover of lovers, love-stories, and happily-ever-afters.  Go ahead and look down your long, literary noses. I can take your criticism, because I know that somewhere out there in the crowd of literature snobs are the bazillion hypocrites with reams of chick-lit stashed under the mattresses.

This afternoon I picked up another Nora Roberts novel, Jewels of the Sun. It’s an older novel, but, like most other things that I read, including philosophy, religious texts and business books, it has come at the right time and I can relate to it;

All the signs were there, had been there hovering and humming around her for months. The edginess, the short temper, the tendency toward daydreaming and forgetfulness. There’d been a lack of motivation, of energy, or purpose.

Most working women can relate to feeling like this at some time or another. I happen to work in a profession traditionally (as in from the dawn of time) dominated by men. Work isn’t just work, it’s working to change the entire language of what it means to be a professional.

As a barely middle-class, well-educated  single parent, just keeping up with the demands of every day living is exhausting, so much so that I forget what it means to be feminine. It is an indulgence that I can not often afford to feel or express.

When I pick up a piece of chick-lit, I can escape into characters who mirror exactly what I’m feeling;

Every morning the simple task of getting out of bed to dress for the day’s [work] had taken on the proportions of scaling a mountain. Worse, a mountain she had absolutely no interest in seeing from a distance much less climbing…

Imagine, she thought, not having to talk to anyone for several days in a row! Not being asked questions and expected to know the answers. Not making small talk…No schedule that must be adhered to.

Not only are there characters written who normalize the exhaustion I feel, but they have lovely old crones who are well rooted in the goddess of the earth dishing out advice;

…Still, it’s a good spot, the hill, for looking inside yourself ot your heart’s desire. You look inside yours while you’re there.

Ah yes, the sweet temptation of foreign vistas and solitude.  We all need a bit of prodding to leave our comfort zones and get back to our own authentic selves. A gal can only get by on daydreaming in local coffeeshops or long-hot-candle-lit-baths-so-you-can’t-see-the-grime, for so long.

While I begin the final countdown to my own time-out on the sea, I will internalize the advice of the old granny in the book;

…don’t stand back too long and watch the rest of the world. Life’s so much shorter than you think.

…and don’t we know it.

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