Hello, my name is Mark and I like Chick Lit, though I don’t care for the term. While snappy, I think it’s silly and narrow. I think the only labels should be on bathroom doors (Ally McBeal offering an exception even there). I stand before you (sit actually) as a guy on a predominantly women’s book review site who likes women writers. I like guy writers too. Hemingway was a guy’s guy after all, but lets not mess with my meme.
I’m a normal guy, providing you use abnormal definitions, and grade on a curve. I am neither exceptionally macho, nor exceptionally not. I like purple more than most men who also prefer boobs. And like most men I am entertained at the sounds the human body can produce, and I can be sent into a positively juvenile giggle fit at their creation. But I also love romantic comedies and what is considered women’s fiction.
This was not by design, I just noticed a few of the books that over the last year or so I enjoyed the most were of this genre: Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman @wordrunner; Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt @leavittnovelist; and The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen @thebirdsisters. There are of course more, but those are among my favorites. All three are beautifully told stories with characters I laughed and ached with, and might have even cried with, were I not so damned manly. All three of these were written by women. That’s just a fact. But why aren’t they read by more men? I looked up all three of these on Amazon and looked at the reviews. Overwhelmingly women. Why? In two of the three, the main characters were mostly women. Is that it?
Labels are great for boxes. They can help us know what’s in the box. But they can be equally limiting, and can lead to mislabeling. I once had my father’s things boxed up in storage for years. He had a wood carving kit that I looked through almost every box for. I looked in every box with a label that even remotely seemed that might contain it. In the end, I found it in a box labeled “photo albums.”
I read fiction for the story. Do you write a good story? Do you create characters I care about? This is why I read. And of course hedging my bets. If (when) women take over the world I hope to be considered with favor. Treated kindly and given books often. And on my very good days, tacos.