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My dirty little secret ...


I admit it; I read chick lit, the porn of the literary world. I try to gussy it up by calling it ‘Women’s Fiction’, which technically it is, being fiction for women, and all. Unfortunately, people aren’t fooled for a moment.

But in my defence, I actually enjoy reading books that don’t stress me, that don’t depress me, that don’t make me sad. The last thing I need after a long day at work is a book that’s going to have me emotionally on edge (read miserable) or fighting to concentrate with the few brain cells still left in one piece.

That’s not to say I don’t read challenging literary offerings, but oh they can be hard work and it’ll take days for my psyche to recover. As an author, I fully appreciate the work that’s gone into them and the beauty of the words, but can I relax with one under a tree, on the beach or in bed at night?

Not without Valium.

Goodreads and a lot of review sites are chock full of books that would have you believing that reading only really counts if it’s an effort. I totally get that bad things happen to good people, but because I immerse myself in books when I read them, I live through the horror, the sadness and the grief and these emotions invade my sanctuary, laying it bare.

That’s not my idea of entertainment and I’m not alone in feeling this.

It’s just that people who read chick lit, romance, fantasy or the like tend to keep quiet about it. They don’t post reviews, or mark something as ‘to be read’, worried what others will think of them. That they’ll somehow be marked as frivolous and not as intelligent as you’d like.

So it remains their/my/our dirty little secret. The only redeeming thing is that so many of us share this shameful habit.

If we look at the US market alone, the estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013 was $1.08 billion (source: BookStats).

That’s a lot of reading under the covers.

Romance accounts for 13% of the adult fiction market (source: Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker, BISAC Romance), with romance book buyers being 30–54 years old (41%; source: Nielsen Romance Buyer Survey for RWA).

Suddenly I’m not feeling so lonely.

So, next time you finish a lighter offering rather than sliding it into a plain brown paper bag and dropping it in the nearest clothing bin, leave a review. Out yourself as a ‘Lover of Light Lit’ and stand proud. You are not alone!

Hmmmm, I might have to get some badges made, secret handshake, special cocktail …

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