2013 Reading Year: In Search of Great Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction

questions2 It’s hard to believe but we’re now into the eighth month of the 2013 reading year. This means there are only four months left to read the best of romance novels published in 2013 before voting begins for AAR’s Annual Reader Poll. As one of the three pollsters at AAR (along with LeeB and CindyS), I find myself thinking early about books I might vote for in the Annual Reader Poll.

Over the last few years one of my favorite categories has been the Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction. I tend to favor Chick Lit (lighter, less angtsy) over Women’s Fiction, but have enjoyed a number of Women’s Fiction titles as well. Many AAR readers express confusion about what the difference is between Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, and Contemporary Romance. Last year I wrote a similar piece here and provided some links to descriptions of just what makes a book Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction as opposed to Contemporary Romance. But this confusion comes through each year in the votes for “best” Chick Lit and/or Women’s Fiction, as titles generally categorized as contemporary romance (such as those by Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson) garner votes in this category.

While it’s one of my favorite categories, I’ve suddenly realized that so far I haven’t read any memorable Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction published in 2013. So, I decided to do a power search at AAR for some great Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction published in 2013. The results weren’t very encouraging. So far this year only one Chick Lit title published in 2013 has been reviewed at AAR, A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde, and it received a B- from Maggie. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Katie Fforde’s books in the past so will probably give this one a try. But that’s just one book! Where are all the great Chick Lit titles? Or has Chick Lit finally died the death that so many readers have predicted for years?

Sometimes a review of recent winners at AAR can provide ideas for good future reading. Recent winners in this category have been Sophie Kinsella (2012, I’ve Got Your Number), Jill Mansell (2011, To the Moon and Back), Kristan Higgins (2010, All I Ever Wanted) and Pamela Morsi (2010, The Bikini Car Wash). While the print version of Sophie Kinsella’s 2013 publication, Wedding Night, hasn’t been reviewed at AAR, I reviewed the audio version and found it a miss and definitely not a title I’d vote for as best of Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction. According to Amazon, Jill Mansell’s 2013 release Don’t Want to Miss a Thing will be available in the U.S. this November; I’ll definitely pick it up and read it before voting begins in early January 2014.

AAR’s reviews for Women’s Fiction are a bit more promising. So far this year 10 Women’s Fiction titles published in 2013 have been reviewed here. Two – Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan and Home Front by Kristin Hannah – received B+ reviews. Both sound interesting to me and I’m going to try and read them over the next few months.

But other than that, the pickings seem pretty slim. Have you read any great chick lit or women’s fiction published in 2013? What would you recommend as “must reads in this category?”

– LinnieGayl Kimmel

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17 Responses to “2013 Reading Year: In Search of Great Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction”

  1. AAR Lynn says:

    When I’m looking at whether something is chick lit/women’s fiction(I really wish marketers would rename those categories!) or contemporary romance, I think of it more in terms of things such as RWA’s definition for the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category: “A work of fiction not belonging in another category that contains a strong romantic element, such that one or more romances contained in the story form an integral part of the story’s structure, but in which other themes or stories may also be significantly developed.” IN the judging guidelines, RWA goes on to say that, “The romantic elements, while not the primary focus of the story, should be an integral and dynamic part of the plot or subplot.”

    There’s also a good description of what women’s fiction is over here: http://www.rwa-wf.com/about/

  2. LeeB. says:

    I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty and The Husband’s Secret was quite well done. Also enjoyed Cathy Lamb’s latest, If You Could See What I See.

    I’ve also read a few titles released in the UK:
    The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan (available in the US next year)
    Could It Be I’m Falling In Love by Eleanor Prescott
    Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty (Kindle edition available in US)

  3. Sandlynn says:

    If you haven’t already, I would definitely read Lian Dolan’s Elizabeth the First Wife, published in May 2013. I’d call it more women’s fiction than chick lit, but it definitely has some of the latter’s daffier qualities, i.e., it’s a very amusing book. (I guess you could say it straddles the two genres.) I gave it an “A,” I liked it so much and also immediately put the author’s first book, Helen of Pasadena, on my “wish list.”

  4. leslie says:

    2013 has been pretty lack luster as far as Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction. The Sophie Kinsella book was a disappointment and as a fan of Katie Fforde I have to say I wasn’t too thrilled with The Perfect Proposal either.

    Here’s a few women’s fiction authors I like. Juliette Fay, Jullie Buxbaum, Gil McNeil and Marcia Willett. Sadly none have new books for 2013.

    Thanks for the clarification on what’s what in the AAR poll.

  5. Mitch says:

    A recently published ebook, The great big romance is a good chick lit read. Good mix of comedy and love story, with a bit of a mystery running through. A little too short for my liking, left me wanting to know more, but hey! Breakfasts at Tiffany’s was short too.

    May be more for a British audience, but worth a look just for the steamy first chapter.

    Not yet available to buy as a book unfortunately though.

    • AAR Lynn says:

      While I appreciate that you’re enthusiastic about your book, this post was meant to encourage discussion, not spam. Accordingly, I have removed the purchase link that you posted to your self-published book.

  6. Suzanne Noll says:

    I enjoyed A Royal Pain and the companion book, If The Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry. I would categorize them as Chick Lit.

  7. Jane says:

    Sandlynn beat me to it. ELIZABETH THE FIRST was the one I was going to suggest.

    The other one I absolutely recommend is Marian Keyes’ newest – THE MYSTERY OF MERCY CLOSE. This one is a little darker in that it deals with the heroine’s suffering from depression, it also has a very dark, very wonderful level of humor that I just loved. And as someone who has a family member who suffers from depression, I truly appreciated being able to experience it through her character. There is a satisfying romantic element as well.

    I did enjoy Lauren Graham’s SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY MAYBE about a young actress trying to make it in New York in the 90′s . Graham is the actress best known as Lorelei on the Gilmore Girls (more recently on Parenthood) and I thought the stuff about being a struggling actress was pretty well done.

  8. Lori Johnson says:

    Laura Florand’s chocolate series.

  9. Bianca S. says:

    Thanks for opening this topic up for discussion! I am always looking for great women’s fiction and I feel it has been slim pickings this year. I was so happy to come across this post and I have already seen a few books that I want to check out now. My book recommendation has to be “Come Fly With Me” by author Judith Whitmore (http://www.judithwhitmore.com/books/come-fly-with-me/). I like to read about a woman I can root for and that I want to fall in love and do something wonderful with her life. I don’t like “victims” or women who are portrayed weak or a bit dim. “Come Fly with Me” focuses on Kate, a beautiful, intelligent, go-getter who unfortunately, is stuck in a loveless one-sided marriage. Her husband is a workaholic and a cheater. Kate uses her love for flying as a means for escape and when she isn’t pouring her heart and soul into an organization she created for at risk youths she is in the air, escaping. Kate wants to become a certified jet pilot and trains under Rick (her soulmate!). The two face many obstacles and embark on quite the unexpected adventure. I grew to love these characters and their story. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique love story with a inspiring woman lead!

  10. carol irvin says:

    i must disagree about the latest Kinsella novel. I thought it was hilarious. i was sick with the flu when i read it and it was the perfect antidote. if we had those great actors from the 1930s and 1940s around, it would have made a fantastic screwball comedy movie.

    i am now reading a series called Jackson Brodie by Kate Atkinson. Although sold as a mystery series, these novels are the most curious mix of subgenres. Jackson’s romantic entanglements are hilarious as he is hopeless. But there are well developed supporting characters whose love lives, or lack thereof, we also explore. I was expecting the novels to be like its UK tv series with the wonderful Jason Isaac. That series focuses solely on the mystery element. Atkinson is one of the best writing discoveries i’ve made in a long time. she is very fresh, original and creative.