Seldom do I find a TV show or movie that I like more than the books that inspired them. The Notebook and A Walk to Remember may be the exceptions here (I remember when I loved Nicholas Sparks…), and Crazy Rich Asians was so good on the silver screen that it was a close call. The adapted screenplays of two TV shows in recent years neared the quality of their inspirations as well: Sweetbitter and Big Little Lies.
So when I heard that sequels to both of these shows were coming to my living room this year, I perked up.
But then the premieres came and went. Season two of Big Little Lies premiered when I was in Africa, and I never attempted to watch when I returned. I couldn’t help but feel lackluster toward it. Then, one Saturday not too long after, I tried watching an episode of Sweetbitter. I was already a few behind and expected to binge the series. Five minutes into that one episode, though, I turned it off. Admittedly, some small skepticism had been brewing for these shows since my initial excitement; it was just a matter of time before the reasoning clicked. That confirmation came in the shape of Sweetbitter‘s five-minute failure when I realized that the non-sequel sequel is not my forte.
Quality is the most subjective characteristic when it comes to literature. Sure, every reader loves great symbolism, those masterpieces that speak to cultural moments, thorough and exact research about a time or place, those books that really hit home and move you. Sometimes, though, you need a break from the real world. You need something that will make you laugh or cry irrationally and believe that fairy tale love actually exists.
As someone who reads about overcollateralization, subordination, and tranching all day, while trying to parse legalese that makes you want to stab out your eyes, I know firsthand the importance of a feel-good and easy read. So it’s with great honor that I present to you my case for the novels that give you the best of feels (despite some of the harshest criticisms): chick lit.
Nobody can argue that many aspects of 2017 were piles of flaming garbage. That doesn’t mean literature failed us though. I read 24 books* this year. While there’s never enough time for all the wonderful writing in the world and while I wish I had read more, I am more than satisfied with the books I chose this year. Therefore, to the Big Little Literature library: You got ranked.
*This number does not count Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day, which I just could not finish.
The Oscars has one particular thing in common with the movies it rewards: takes way too long to reach the climax. I never really thought about it until this past February when, while watching the Academy Awards together, my friend Dana told me that one reason she thoroughly enjoyed Best Picture nominee Hell or High Water was because of the film editing. It didn’t consume three hours of her time for the sake of being an award-winning movie. This brings me to The Oscars Effect: when a movie knows it has the Oscar caliber so it must be ridiculously long and/or take an inordinate amount of time to climax.
As much as I love Liane Moriarty (the woman inspired the name of this blog after all), her 2016 novel, Truly Madly Guilty, falls victim to the Oscars Effect. The novel focuses on supposedly best friends, Clementine and Erica, whose friendship could be a story in and of itself. In addition to their troubled relationship, both women face complications in their marriages and careers and with their parents, children, and neighbors. These complications drive the back stories behind the main plot. In Truly Madly Guilty, a friendly barbecue among neighbors and friends turns life-changing after one accident. Sounds interesting enough except I don’t learn what this earth-shattering, tragic or nontragic, adulterous or PG-rated calamity is until two-thirds of the way through.