Escapism Filter!
February 15, 2010 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Help me find some awesome, funny chick-lit.

I am looking for some great, new authors of funny chick-lit or romance novels.

I've loved or liked books I have read by
1) Georgette Heyer
2) Jenny Crusie
3) Emily Giffen
4) Abigal Bosanko
5) Marian Keyes
6) Helen Fielding
7) Melissa Bank

I think what these authors share is a wacky sense of humour and an interest in developing their main characters' back-story and family, so it becomes less "girl meets boy" than "girl has crazy family and friends, a bunch of stuff happens and it's really funny, oh and she also meets a boy."

I have disliked books I have read by
1) Jennifer Weiner
2) Isabell Wolff
3) Jane Green

I guess they weren't really funny enough; Jennifer Weiner in particular was too earnest for me.

Apart from Heyer, I don't do historical romances. I also prefer to steer clear of "romantic suspense" and werewolves/vampires etc.

I've read this thread which was a good starting point but I've read a lot of the authors suggested in it. It would be great to discover some newer writers to get enthused about.
posted by Ziggy500 to Writing & Language (30 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, which are basically slapstick romance - heavy on the slapstick, relatively light on the romance, which is perfect for me. They're fluff for sure, but they've turned into airport standbys for me.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:04 AM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Try 'Nice' by Jen Sacks.

It is not a mystery; please don't hold the Edgar Award against it.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:05 AM on February 15, 2010

Seconding Janet Evanovich. Her books are light, easy reading but fairly hilarious.
posted by Abbril at 7:08 AM on February 15, 2010

You definitely need to try Sarah Dessen books. She has written very good, romantic, interesting, and personally relate-able novels.

Happy reading :)
posted by shortbus at 7:10 AM on February 15, 2010

I like Sophie Kinsella for fluffy, funny chick-lit, but I don't know if it'd have enough backstory for you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:10 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Tuesday Erotica Club may be a hit or a miss for you, but the characters are definitely quirky, the backstories are definitely entertaining, and it is definitely chick lit. But it might also be a little more serious at points than you would like for escapism, but it's definitely worth a read.
posted by zizzle at 7:12 AM on February 15, 2010

Books by Susan Isaacs, and Baby, Oh Baby by Robin Wells.
posted by cherrybounce at 7:23 AM on February 15, 2010

I really enjoyed 'English as a Second Language' by Megan Crane. Not all her books fit what you are looking for, but this one does.

Perhaps Meg Cabot's 'The Boy Next Door'

Also 2nd the Sophie Kinsella books. Some are a little too silly for me, but they're worth a shot.
posted by smalls at 7:35 AM on February 15, 2010

Sophie Kinsella's best is Can You Keep a Secret?, which involves a 20-something girl who is afraid of flying and accidentally spills everything to the stranger in the seat next to her on a plane.

Her second best work is Remember Me?, which is a semi-ridiculous novel about a woman who has amnesia and can't remember the last several years of her life. But it's funny, and well-written, and lots of fun to read.

I avoid the Shopaholic books because they're scary. I mean, who wants to read about a girl spending all her money in a crazy way until she's in over her head? Too Lucille Ball.

Hester Browne wrote The Little Lady Agency, one of my Brit chick lit favorites, about a woman who loses her job and starts a business helping men figure out how to deal with their lives. She does some professional shopping, some party planning, a little bit of acting like a "fake girlfriend," and then has to deal with the various pitfalls (men falling in love with her, men thinking she's a prostitute), and of course falls madly in love with a rich, handsome Prince Charming type.

Then there's Meg Cabot, whose first chick lit series (including The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy's Got One) is fantastic. The series is written in e-mails, IMs, notes scribbled on receipts and menus, etc. The characters are all linked through the three novels, but quite loosely; the link is that they all work for, or have worked for, the same newspaper. And of course Meg is the queen of awesome storytelling, so this is not optional reading.

If you want to further explore Meg Cabot's adult fiction, check out her website before you make the leap. I personally love the Heather Wells mysteries, which are about a former pop star working in the student housing department at NYU. (Maybe it's an NYU substitute; I don't recall.) They're good fun, but some folks find them outlandish. My least favorite of Meg's writing would probably be the Queen of Babble series, but for Meg that only means that the books are still better than most other chick lit.

There's more -- much, much more! -- but I think this should get you started.
posted by brina at 8:01 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you read anything by Anna Maxted? It looks like you and I have similar taste and I particularly liked Maxted's Running in Heels and Getting Over It. There is some heavy stuff in these books, but they are hilarious, and their humor reminded me of Marilyn Keyes.

Seconding Janet Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum books and Susan Isaacs. Both are really great, although Evanovitch is lowbrow (slapsticky and over-the-top, almost campy at times) while Isaacs is highbrow and usually emphasizes the intelligence of her heroines. Think Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality (Evanovitch) versus Allison Janney on The West Wing (Isaacs).
posted by sallybrown at 8:21 AM on February 15, 2010

Serena Mackesy's The Temp. A little grittier than Helen Fielding, but very much fits your girl-meets-boy-as-relatively-incidental wish, and very, very funny.
posted by Catseye at 8:49 AM on February 15, 2010

Thirding anything by Meg Cabot (including her YA stuff, it's a lot of fun).

While I haven't read as much of Rachel Gibson's work as I have Cabot's, I've enjoyed those I have. True Confessions was especially fun -- the heroine's a Weekly World News-style tabloid reporter.

Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc. series does have magic in it, but it's lighthearted and doesn't have much in common with paranormal romance. Not dark in the least, and great ensemble character interaction. Also, there's nothing undead or furry -- and there is no way they'd ever be released with covers depicting a heavily-armed woman with a lower back tattoo.

Seconding brina's take on Sophie Kinsella. Her standalones are a lot more like what you're going for, I think.
posted by asperity at 8:49 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to give Terry McMillan a try. Waiting to Exhale follows a group of friends through life's ups-and-downs (including, but not focusing on, romance) and is often hilariously funny. How Stella Got Her Groove Back is also very enjoyable.
posted by deeparch at 9:12 AM on February 15, 2010

How about something along the lines of chick-memoir? I've loved everything that Jen Lancaster has written; her site would be a good place to start to find out if you like her style.
posted by alynnk at 9:34 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love chick-memoir but hate Jen Lancaster for reasons I can't really explain. Laurie Notaro, Pamela Ribon and Cynthia Kaplan make me happy, though.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:43 AM on February 15, 2010

If you're willing to read young adult books, there is a lot of fun chick lit.

Sarah Dessen, as mentioned above, is the queen of smart, YA romance. I love her books, but they tend to be a little more dramatic than funny.

Robin Benway's Audrey, Wait! is one of my favorite books from 2008. It's about a girl who's ex-boyfriend writes a song about their break-up that becomes an instant hit.

Ally Carter has a series about girls at a super-secret boarding school for spies (Gallagher Girls) and a new book out about teenage art thieves (Heist Society).

Maureen Johnson is hilarious -- if you like wacky families, Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever center on a girl and her family who own a classic old New York hotel.

E. Lockhart writes really fabulous female characters. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is one of my absolute favorite books. It's about a girl in a boarding school who one-ups the all-male secret society with pranks of her own. Her Ruby Oliver series is also really fun.

I also really enjoyed Melissa Walker's Lovestruck Summer and her Violet on the Runway series.
posted by wsquared at 9:58 AM on February 15, 2010

jenny colgan? (i.e west end girls, operation sunshine..)
posted by bloodandglitter at 10:47 AM on February 15, 2010

Dee Henderson has two series of hilarious action/romance novels. In one series a kick-butt group of intensely loyal orphans all change their last name when they come of age. Each are involved in service: a U.S. Marshall, a negotiator, a fireman, an EMT, a pathologist, a counselor and a pediatritian. The other series featues a Navy Seal widow, a female pilot and something else. Can't remember.
The "smart talk" bantering between characters make them seem incredibly real. She has won many awards for the books...
posted by srbrunson at 10:48 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Holly's Inbox by "Holly Denham" (that's how it was published but it's actually written by an author who's name I've forgotten) is a cute, fun novel told through emails. Screwball in a Bridget Jones-ish way with a surprisingly emotionally resonant ending.
posted by lunasol at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2010

Oh, and more chick-lit memoir: I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Sloane Crossley is a great collection of essays about her family, friends and sometimes her boyfriends. The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl is written by a woman who spent her twenties going from 350 lbs to a normal weight. Not really a diet or self-help book, though: it's told with a lot of humor and she spends as much time talking about her family, friends, job, and life (halfway through, she moves from Australia to Scotland) as she does her weight loss.
posted by lunasol at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2010

Try Anne Lamott. Her non fiction is hysterical too.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2010

And thanks for asking the question, I'm off to the library now.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:53 AM on February 15, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable - Sophie Kinsella also writes as Madeleine Wickham (non-shopaholic standalones).
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:09 PM on February 15, 2010

Kate Atkinson, Aimee Bender
posted by ifjuly at 1:21 PM on February 15, 2010

Wow! Thank you all for your amazing responses! I'm off to do some serious Amazon-shopping. You guys rock.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:45 PM on February 15, 2010

Have you tried Powell's Books? Far cheaper than Amazon, at least in my experience.
posted by sallybrown at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2010

I really enjoyed these 3 novels:

The Curse of the Spillmans by Lisa Lutz
The Spellman Files: A Novel by Lisa Lutz (funny)
The Revenge of the Spellmans by Liza Lutz

A very dysfunctional family of private detectives spies on one another in SF. Lots of fun.
posted by daneflute at 6:16 PM on February 15, 2010

Another vote for Janet Evanovich. I love the Stephanie Plum books and I am also starting to read the Full series (Full House, Full Tilt, Full Blast, etc.)

I also like Denise Swanson's Scumble River mysteries. The main character is a school psychologist who moves back to her hometown, a small town in Illinois. Quirky family, other quirky characters abound. And lots of laughs.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:26 PM on February 15, 2010

"girl has crazy family and friends, a bunch of stuff happens and it's really funny, oh and she also meets a boy."
While Marion Keyes is a master at this formula, I also really enjoy Elinor Lipman. Like Keyes, she balances some very unfunny topics with characters who are earnest and nutty. Here are my recommendations:
Then She Found Me
The Inn at Lake Devine
Isabel's Bed
and The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
OK - probably anything by Lipman.
posted by kbar1 at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable - Sophie Kinsella also writes as Madeleine Wickham (non-shopaholic standalones).

The books she's written under Madeleine Wickham are a bit dark as far as chick lit goes. I think they're great novels, but they definitely don't fit the OP's request for light and funny.
posted by phatkitten at 8:55 AM on February 16, 2010

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