People love to hate chick lit. I can't think of another category of fiction that engenders as much derision as chick lit except maybe romance, chick lit's close cousin. There's no book out there titled This is Not Science Fiction or This is not a Thriller, but there is a book entitled This is Not Chick Lit. Why the hate, people?
Let's dispel some myths. Chick lit as a genre is not new. The phrase "chick lit" may have been coined in the 1990s when Bridget Jones's Diary took the publishing world by storm, but it's been around for two hundred years! Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility was initially published in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice was initially published in 1813. These novels are the original chick lit--young women dealing with family issues, work issues, and relationship issues.
Second, modern chick lit is more than just twenty-something women shopping for shoes and searching for a man. Yes, most chick lit books have some sort of romantic relationship subplot. But books in many other genres contain romantic relationship subplots too. Books as disparate as the dystopian YA trilogy The Hunger Games and the thriller phenomenon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy contain romantic relationship subplots. Even most of Stephen King's books contain a romantic subplot. You may not like any of those books, but they don't engender the same level of scorn as chick lit.
Third, what's wrong with liking books that deal with people looking to find their place in the world? Because to me, that's what chick lit is really about. The family issues, work issues, and relationship issues all boil down to characters asking: What are my priorities and how should I live my life? Aren't those the questions we all ask ourselves--consciously or unconsciously--every day? Is there a reason we should be ashamed of reading books that deal with the same issues we deal with in our everyday lives? Or is the real issue with chick lit (and romance for that matter) the positive ending? If it's not negative, cynical, or otherwise "realistic" then it can't be taken seriously?
If you too happen to like books about women dealing with family issues, work issues, and relationship issues, and you too prefer to read books with uplifting endings even if you know in real life it would likely never happen that way, then proclaim your reading independence! You can enjoy chick lit and still be an intelligent, accomplished person.