The term chick lit most often refers to fiction marketed toward young, single, working women, especially those in their 20s or 30s. The roots of the term may have originated with the novel Bridget Jones’ Diary, a 1996 novel by author Helen Fielding. The titles labeled as chick lit often feature a young, stylish woman or women as the protagonist, and the setting is often a fashionable, urban area. The stories frequently follow the protagonist through her work and personal life issues and often incorporate sexual themes.
However, chick lit also means books written by women for women, and the audience varies from ages 20 to post-60. Often, the books incorporate a light, humorous tone and involve real life issues, including weight problems and addictions. Some books in this genre are told from a first-person point of view.
Chick lit books often contain humor and a sarcastic tone. Often, the main character is separated by physical distance from her family, and she often has many issues affecting her life at any given time. Most often, a chick lit book involves a romantic relationship at least as a subplot.
Other books commonly included in the chick lit genre include those authored by Candace Bushnell, including Sex and the City, and several written by authors Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and Jennifer Weiner. Other lists of chick lit titles frequently include The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank, The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, and The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.
Some references refer to chick lit as a form of post feminist or new women’s fiction. The idea of a post feminist woman is one who has a career but is also interested in a relationship and family. The main character is empowered to solve her own problems. She’s witty, smart and seeks self-satisfaction along with love and success. The books in this genre do not always end in a perfect, fairy-tale way; however, the protagonist usually learns more about herself and her situation along the way.
Critics of chick lit say it is too light and fluffy. There is a tendency for some books known as chick lit to be based on women with high profile careers, such as those in the fashion or publishing industries. Others say the genre is too stereotypical or clichéd.