Why Read Women's Fiction?

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

"...Memoirs gradually unfolds to reveal the courage, love, daring, and hope of an intensely human - and, it turns out, surprisingly modern - woman."

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"...In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, she spins a story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide."

Something Blue by Emily Griffin

"Highly entertaining... Despite a happy ending, Giffin raises thorny questions. A long friendship can (like marriage) turn claustrophobic or abusive. Is infidelity the solution? And why are pretty girls so easily taken in by scheming Plain Janes?"

How to make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto

"An extraordinary and moving reading experience, How to make an American quilt is an exploration of women of yesterday and today, who join together in a uniquely female experience. As they gather year after year, their stories, their wisdom, their lives, form the pattern from which all of us draw warmth and comfort for ourselves."

These reviews span from The Boston Globe to New York Times. Almost all of us will recognize these titles, have read them, or seen the love for these books bring our favorite stories to the big screen and touch the nation. What do these titles have in common? They're women's fiction.

There are many misconceptions about women's fiction, one being that it is some sort of hybrid; Sex and the City meets chic lit meets romance novels, it's a blanket term people throw around without really knowing what they're covering. But the clearest definition of women's fiction is this: it's fiction for women readers. Meaning, fiction for all of us, fiction about all of us.

So why read this genre that all too often accidently gets dumped into genres we might not wander to? Because they're books that are relatable to all of us on some scale, grand or small. All of the women in these stories are us or parts of our life, in some form. They're flawed, beautiful, ordinary, the wallflower, weak yet strong, blinded by love or push their love to the side for the sake of someone else. They break molds, they fill molds perfectly. They are the smile we paint on during the day, and the quiet tear we shed in the darkness. They are what we hope to become, they are our secret dream, they are what we fear to become. They are the victim and the clumsy hero. They are everyday women.

Reading women's fiction is the same reason I write women's fiction; because I love love but hate the perfect hero. Because I love a character that I can relate to, flaws and all. Because I love stories that feel real, and stories that make me feel. Because I love stories that imitate life in realistic yet entertaining ways - that life is messy and complicated, not always what you expected but still the best ride of you'll ever go on. Because being a mom, wife, daughter, lover, friend, being a woman is hard - and the most rewarding challenge we will ever face.

The books I mentioned at the beginning are best-selling books, so much so that they were all turned into movies to touch an entirely different kind of audience. They're not chic lit, romance, or drama's, they're women's fiction. And they're bestsellers for a reason; they're all stories with real women inside them. Like the very women who bought these books.

Why read women's fiction? Because they're books about you, about me, about your mom, your friend, the boss you hate, and the co-worker you love to ignore. They're stories that unravel our lives, the lives of women we see every day, our failures and growth. Revealing a whole new woman and world we never expected to find from the seemingly ordinary woman on the surface. They're written about us, for us, tailored to things we think about, whether we say them out loud or not. They do for readers what we as women do every day; make you feel, think, fight, try, grow, and love. Women's fiction shows the complexity and beauty, of us.

Darian Wilk is a women's fiction writer, and the author of Love Unfinished which was released in October of 2011, and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. She is currently working on her second novel, Reinventing Claire, coming in the spring of 2012.


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