Lovin’ on Chick Lit

By Kate Dugan

I admit it: I love chick lit.

I spent the better part of this past Sunday afternoon devouring Lauren Weisberger’s Everyone Worth Knowing. I read these books like I watch movies—for the entertainment, for the escapism, for the encompassing feeling of a plot line.  I love getting sucked in.  When my husband came home late afternoon on Sunday, I looked at him in a daze, wondering, exactly, how long he had been gone.

With wit and vigor, Donna Freitas’ Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise: Spirituality for the Bridget Jones in All of Us digs through fashion and the bantor of chick lit to find—shock!—theological and spiritual meaning in these books. She, wisely I think, argues that the heroines of chick lit offer young—often Catholic—women modern-day mentors with whom we can learn and be challenged.  I mean, who doesn’t cheer and root for Bette, even in her silly late-night adventures New York City?  Who doesn’t want her to be whole and happy and rooted?

Because, afterall, aren’t these the things we want for ourselves?  For our friends?

Being in my late twenties feels like a funny age. Friends are in all sorts of different stages of life—kids, marriages, break-ups, school, careers, and jobs—all echo through us in different ways.  It makes it exciting, like a late-night coffee with a new-found love; but also startling, like realizing your faux boyfriend is gay.  All the troibles Weisberger’s heroine.

When I first saw Donna Freitas’ book, I had my doubts.  I was still in the chick lit closet: not only unwilling to admit to others that I read them, but unwilling to admit to myself that I learned something about my 20-something Catholic life each time I picked one up to read (often cover to cover).  But Freitas’ point resonates in my own reads: we need fallible characters in our lives, not just Julians of Norwich and St. Theresas the little Flower.  We need Bettes and Bridgets to remind us to keep trying.

P.S. Just 21 days until From the Pews in the Back is released!  And Donna Freitas wrote the Afterword!

Kate Dugan is enjoying a pre-PhD school summer with, yes, plenty of chick lit.


3 Responses

  1. I love your realness and honesty. Chick lit does get a bad rap. I appreciate your effort to reframe it. Makes me realize that the negative reaction to the lit is its own kind of backlash to women finding their voice.

  2. Oh, I hadn’t thought about that, Kate. Interesting idea. You might be right…the negative reaction/stereotype as a sort of backlash against women’s voices. And maybe the tentative claiming of chick lit by young women (like Donna Freitas and myself:)) leans toward an act of third wave feminism? I wonder if that makes Betty Friedan roll over in her grave!

  3. I came across your blog today. Great content and nice writing. It was the comment about stages of life that caught my attention. Keep up the great work.

    Stage of Life

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