USA Today examines the chick lit genre and how it has changed over the
Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, published in the UK in fall 1996, unleashed a battalion of Bridgets, launching one of the biggest tidal waves in publishing history.
Women cried out for more funny, lighthearted novels about "singletons" like Bridget who were searching for love, job satisfaction and the perfect pair of shoes.
Ten years later, chick lit, for better or worse, is here to stay. Some of the books are indelibly etched into popular culture.
But even as Hollywood has come calling, chick lit has received some negative attention lately, thanks to the plagiarism scandal surrounding How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan. The novel about an Indian-American girl and her humorous efforts to get into Harvard was removed from shelves in May after it was discovered that Viswanathan had lifted material from other chick lit authors, including Sophie Kinsella and Megan McCafferty.
Like any genre that unleashes a flood of imitators, there is good chick lit and bad, books that sell well and those that disappear without a trace. Even the term chick lit has created a backlash, with some practitioners believing the term is demeaning and limiting.
But love it or hate it, chick lit continues to find an audience. Three titles are on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list: The Devil Wears Prada (No. 3), Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner (No. 35) and The Undomestic Goddess by Kinsella (No. 46). And like the characters whose twentysomething hopes and dreams they deconstruct, chick lit is experiencing growing pains with such spinoffs as bridezilla lit, mommy lit and multicultural lit.
Regardless of what they call it, chick lit is here to stay.