Five Chick Lit Books For Winter Break

First, I know this is going up later than usual.  I got really good news today, so I spent the morning dancing around excitedly.  I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’ll tell you about it when everything is final.

Second, I normally hate the phrase “chick lit” but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe these books.  They’re female driven.  They’re written by women, for women.  They’re truly wonderful stories.

Winter Break Book Recommendations

Eat Pray Love | Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve been slowly reading this book since April. I love it, but it’s slow for me. The book is broken up into three main sections (Eat, Pray, and Love or Italy, India, and Indonesia), and then into vignettes that can be as short as one paragraph or as long as 10 pages. The pace in the Italy portion is faster than India, and I’ve just started Indonesia, so I don’t really know its pacing yet. It’s excellent for a plane ride if you have one coming up, and it’s excellent for sitting on the couch with your family members while they argue about politics so you can pretend you’re in Italy, India, or Indonesia.


Confessions of a Shopaholic | Sophie Kinsella

The movie version of this is so different from the book. I read the book a couple of years ago, and I was honestly shocked at how different it was. I knew the book was set in London, but the differences were phenomenal. Honestly, I think I liked the book even better, and this is one of my favorite movies. If you loved the movie, you’ll still love the book. Becky Bloomwood is a shopaholic journalist in the early 2000s, who doesn’t even know how much her credit card debt is. Irresponsible though she can be, you’ll be rooting for Becky the whole time.


Dakota Born | Debbie Macomber

My mom loves Debbie Macomber. So eventually I was convinced to read one. I quite liked Dakota Born, which tells the story of Lindsay Snyder, an outsider in this small farming community in North Dakota where her grandmother lived. Lindsay became fed up with her life in a big southern city and took the opportunity to become a teacher in Buffalo Valley. But getting there, she discovers that the school is in need of so much more than a new teacher. Lindsay has a good heart, but she has a lot of learning to do herself. Normally, I hate books (and movies, to be fair) that push the “get out of the city, move out to the small town, find a husband and be content” message to women, but Lindsay is not the average protagonist of these stories, and she never loses her inner fire.

Chick Lit

The Secret Life of Bees | Sue Monk Kidd

I LOVE this book. Oh my god. The story takes place in 1964 in South Carolina, and it doesn’t skim over the racism of the time. In fact, racism and sexism are at the core of the story, and they are intertwined. Lily Owens is 14, and she’s been motherless for most of her life. She’s been raised mostly by Rosaleen, an African-American maid and nanny, because her abusive father tends to ignore her. One day, Rosaleen tries to register to vote, and the confrontation that follows drives Lily to make her escape – but she wouldn’t leave Rosaleen. Lily and Rosaleen head for the small town where Lily’s mother was from, and they find her mother’s former nanny, and the secrets to Lily’s mother’s life. It’s beautiful, it’s incredible, and the story rests on the strength of the bonds between women.


The Devil Wears Prada | Lauren Weisberger

You’ve probably seen the movie. You might even have read the book. But trust me, if you haven’t, you need to. I know you’re thinking this is shallow, superficial, and silly because it’s about the fashion journalism industry. Listen, I used to think similar things. And then I read it. Oh, my friend, how wrong I was. Andrea is driven, headstrong, and sometimes a bit bull-headed. She goes into her job with the same attitude I had when I started the book, but she discovers that this industry is made up of people, interesting, fascinating, intelligent people, and that she actually likes her job. But can she make it for a full year?

(Sidenote: yes, her boyfriend is a jerk. Although I don’t think it’s as bad in the book as it is in the movie, cause holy crap is it bad in the movie).


Five Lightheared Mysteries for Winter Break

I refer to these as lighthearted not because there isn’t any violence or death, but because of the tone of the prose. Most lighthearted mysteries are also narrated by amateur detectives. Not all of them, as you’ll see, but many are. I love a good lighthearted mystery for winter break, because they’re so easy to get through. They’re not as terrifying as serious mysteries, nor do they have the thriller elements that many serious mysteries do.

Winter Break Book Recommendations

The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie | Alan Bradley

I read this book on my last trip to DC, after I got it at a library book sale. It follows 11-year-old Flavia deLuce, an amateur chemist/detective in an aristocratic English family during the 1950s. The real mystery starts when she discovers an old stamp, a connection to her father’s school days, and a murder plot. Flavia’s narrative voice sounds older than she is, but in context it really works.

Stephanie Plum series | Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich has been writing Stephanie Plum novels for about 19 years. My mom and I picked one up for a road trip as an audiobook, and we’ve been hooked since the first. The series starts when 30-something lingerie buyer Stephanie Plum finds herself divorced, laid off, and in need of some quick cash. Her mother suggested a filing gig with her cousin Vinny, but when she goes to ask it’s already filled. Of course, since Vinny’s a bail bondsman, there are always bail jumpers to catch, and Stephanie does need the money. She’s also perpetually caught between two equally difficult men: cop Morelli and fellow bounty hunter Ranger. Stephanie’s narrative voice is light, and the novels are always infused with comedy, be it Stephanie’s new friend Lula or her elderly (and slightly demented) grandmother. You can start anywhere, but I’m on the twentieth.

Dug To Death | Adrian Praetzellis

This was actually assigned for my archeology class sophomore year. Why? Because it’s a teaching novel. Praetzellis uses the novel’s mystery to teach readers about archeology procedures. The setting? Obviously an archeological dig. The characters? Archeologists, geologists, and the like. At the back of the book you’ll even find a glossary of archeological terms. You don’t have to be into archeology to enjoy it, but it certainly helps. Because the plot isn’t the only focus of the book, it makes for a fairly lighthearted read.

Lighthearted Mysteries

Nero Wolfe | Rex Stout

This series is one that’s not narrated by an amateur detective. They’re narrated by Archie Goodwin, a private detective and assistant to the great Nero Wolfe. Beginning with Fer-De-Lance, New York’s greatest detective has been written about since the 1930s. Of course, after the original author Rex Stout died others have taken up his mantle. I’ve loved Nero Wolfe mysteries since the early 2000s tv show, which I own on DVD but I’m sure you could find online if you want to watch it.

Hannah Swensen Mysteries | Joanne Fluke

I’ve only read one of these (Candy Cane Murder) but my mom has read at least half a dozen. She loves them and has been reading them for about 12 years. They’re set in Minnesota in a small town where there is an alarmingly high murder rate. Hannah, the main character, owns a bakery called the Cookie Jar, and gets into a lot of hijinks. Plus, every book contains at least one recipe!