I hate the term “chick lit”. I hate its dismissiveness, and I also hate that it works only too well in making me not want to read the things to which the label is affixed. I know that I need to work on that knee jerk reaction; in my mind, “chick lit” is stuff like the Shopaholic series (which I hated), and in reality, there is probably a huge variety of books which get labelled “chick lit” but which, nonetheless, I should not write off. Case in point: the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I binge read all 5 volumes in less than a fortnight, and I quite enjoyed the experience. It was comfort reading at its best. I should mention that a few factors likely contributed to my enjoyment of it, and you should keep those in mind when deciding whether this might be a good recc for you. I am a sucker for the time period (1920-1950) and the genre (upper class family sagas). It reminded me of books like The Camomile Lawn and The Forsyte Saga. If you have read and enjoyed those, you will probably like these novels. There were parts I found a bit slow-going or dull, and characters I liked or cared about less, but it was easy enough to speed-read or skip those parts entirely, and pick up the plot later without any issues.

On a more personal note, the series reminded me of the Jalna books written by Mazo De La Roche. That’s probably not a name familiar to most of you, but she was a favourite writer of my grandmother’s long before we emigrated to Canada. I have fond memories of reading my grandmother’s translated Jalna books as a young teen, which detailed the lives of the Whiteoak family over the better part of a century. (There are over a dozen books in total, and you can still occasionally find them in thrift stores and the like. De La Roche was a hugely popular Canadian author back in the day, but she is hardly known nowadays. I did check Amazon, and it looks like there *was* a recent re-print of the series in about 2010.) I think my grandmother would have loved reading about the Cazalets, since stories about family dramas, secrets, and love affairs — nothing too graphic, but definitely “spicy” — were her favourite. My grandmother used to be a prolific reader, but she is 94 now, and in failing health; so there was a bitter sweetness in reading this series, and thinking of all the books to which she introduced me over the years.

Moving on to articles, can you handle yet another article about Millennials? This one posits that there are two types, those born before 1989 and those born after. As a 1980 baby, I will attest that growing up before the internet was a thing is a big part of my cultural context. I remember getting my first e-mail address when I started university in 1997, but I don’t think I actually started browsing the internet regularly until, literally, the 21st century. In fact, I was just reminiscing with a friend about how we used to register for classes back in those days by — wait for it — calling into the registration line (on our land lines, natch) and punching in the codes for the classes we wanted, praying that we hadn’t miscalculated the order (from most to least likely to fill out quickly). How far we’ve come since then! Of course, it feels like no time at all on my end, but in fact it’s been — gulp! — 20 years. I suddenly feel about as young as the cryptkeeper.

But speaking of technological advances, my binge-watching of John Oliver Last Week Tonight segments on YouTube sent me down an internet rabbit hole of articles about MLMs, which eventually led me to this older article on Racked from someone who tried selling Rodan + Fields. I will freely admit to being fascinated by MLMs, but what I found most interesting about this article was the author’s comments on why she felt uncomfortable with the idea of being a salesperson, a discomfort I share. I won’t lie; there have been times when I’ve felt tempted by some of the advertising pitches I’ve received through the blog, not to mention the lure of affiliate links. I’ve ultimately resisted them all, and most of the time I am perfectly content with that decision. I do occasionally fall into the trap of feeling somewhat inadequate for lack of a “side hustle”, but this article was a good reminder that being a “monetized influencer” would require me to take on an additional role (essentially, a salesperson) which probably isn’t a good fit for me. I wonder if that is a weird and outdated scruple in this day of pervasive social media marketing. If you are a blog reader, does it make a difference to you (in how you perceive the content of the blog or the blogger) if the blog is monetized? Do you feel like you’re being sold to, or is it just blog-reading business as usual? And if you have experiences being a “consultant” for an MLM, I would love to hear about that too!

Lastly, this is not an article per se, but Lainey`s coverage of the MET Ball is worth checking out if you haven`t already. I don`t always agree with her (and Duana`s) red carpet fashion takes, but I enjoy their analyses. This year, I think my fave Met look was Claire Danes — I thought it was wearable but still gave a nod to the theme. I also (oddly? it`s definitely not something I would wear) enjoyed Kerri Russell`s look and I agree with Lainey that she and Matthew Rhys make a very intriguing couple.

Have a great weekend!

11 Comments on What I Read: Chick Lit Edition

  1. I like that you haven’t monetized your blog, for the specific reason that we get to read your genuine thoughts and musings. I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to come up with ~*content*~ to go with the product you would have to pitch on a given day.

  2. I am less bothered by marketing in blogs – though it can be annoying when everyone is wearing the same Ann Taylor pieces- than when people with blogs about their work wardrobe quit to blog ft, only to realize they have no more material for the blog. I feel like Extra Petite, for example, just wears stuff that’s silly at this point.

    On the side hustle, I really liked this piece. http://www.bitchesgetriches.com/romanticizing-side-hustle/

  3. Whether or not a blog is monetized has a huge impact on me as a reader. I’m not opposed to practice per say – if a blogger can get some extra cash and free clothes, more power to ’em! What has caused me to almost immediately unfollow a blog at the slightest hint of a “collaboration” is how horribly they’re executed by most. I mean honestly, how many new, revolutionary skin care routines can one possibly fall in love with in a single year? Or the heartfelt, intimate story they share about their mother… sponsored by a watch brand. It feels so forced and, dare I say, borderline insulting to readers? I completely lose interest in whatever the blogger has to say after posts like that.

  4. I agree with Liane and Lynn above re: multiple sponsored skincare posts or when workwear bloggers quit their FT jobs and thus, start wearing workplace inappropriate outfits… There are a few I can think of which I followed distantly for a while but cast aside without hesitation.

    I am only affiliated with Boden but I don’t feel like a salesperson as such, it’s certainly not a chore, as I’ve always worn their clothes and blogged before I became an affiliate. I buy what I like, they certainly don’t give me anything, and post my pictures, if people click my links that is great but not mandatory and I never ever hide a link behind “this” “this” etc. That really bugs me as a reader. Just be upfront!

    My favourite full time blogger that does sponsored posts is Forever Amber. I don’t read them all if they are of no interest to me but she is genuine and I love her style, voice and honesty so I don’t mind seeing them on her blog.

  5. The Met Ball was so terrible this year. NO one was on theme save for Celine Dion, Rihanna (goddess) and Solange. It was so boring and CDG is SUCH a great fashion designer.

    As for “paid by” blogs. I’m on the fence. I do like when people have fitting tips (like these shoes fit small) but when they are sponsored by make up or protein shakes it just feels forced and usually I stop reading. I don’t mind if a designer sends the blog a piece or item that is in the spirit of the blog but generally I don’t like it.

    MLM’s. Don’t like them. Don’t care for them.

  6. I actually think it’s great that bloggers can make an income. I think to myself that if I was as ‘brave’ as them (and you!) it must be a fun way to earn some extra money…for more shopping. You know, finance the habit.
    But having said that, there are a few issues I have with how that can go down. I go to watch instagram stories and 5 different bloggers are opening ‘blogger mail’ and it’s the same gift pkg from Benefit, for example. I feel like that’s kind of sad. And yes, it’s the shopbop big sale (which seems to be more and more frequent), thanks all of you for letting me know, enjoy your $250 credit for telling me. Finally, a thing that really annoys me is reading a blog from someone who is always dressed head to toe in expensive brands/designers but then ‘jumps at the chance’ to collaborate with, I don’t know, say JC Penney and I just know they wear the outfit for the one time and won’t really EVER shop there again. Actually on the same topic, there is one blog/instagram I follow, and 90% of her insta posts are ‘hey you need this sweater in your life and it’s under $50!’ She’s a ‘salesperson’ for sure, but for everything and all brands she wears, she’s a SAHM so I guess it’s her way to earn money. It is so excessive though, selling is really the purpose of her posts, so I try not to be annoyed and I like her style and her kids are cute! Okay, I don’t mean to sound so harsh, mostly I love reading blog! I need my fluff fix.

  7. On the issue of chick lit, I am not a fan of Shopaholic series, but I did enjoy some of Kinsella’s books that she has written under the alias Madeleine Wickham. The novels felt more substantial.

  8. I’m not totally opposed to links but I do stop following when a blog stops feeling real and starts feeling like just another catalog.

  9. Blogs “jump the shark” for me when:

    the blogger stops doing what they started blogging about in the first place or stops doing things outside of the blog that gives the inspiration for interesting content to help the blog evolve, but still post sponsored content.

    when the blog becomes their sole income and they become dependent on the sponsored content.

    When the narcissism takes over and all they do is admire themselves in the phone screen on Igram stories or Snapchat.

    When the blog becomes a place for the blogger to bask in the adoration of their adoring fans. I find it sad that, for many, this is what their self esteem depends on.

    When the blogger is constantly reminding me how hard they are working for me, and how I should be grateful for their affiliate links and freebies because somehow this makes them some kind of expert.

    When they use their children as click bait.

    When they suddenly become an expert cook when they bake a batch of muffins, or an expert parent a week after they have their first child (affiliate links galore to buy the muffin pan that made all the difference, or the baby gear that makes it all possible)

    All of this said…

    When I feel that a person is driven by their passion, I don’t care if there is sponsored content or affiliate links or not. Many cooking blogs do this quite well. Your blog and Nicole’s blog also do this well…your interests and integrity shine through. If either of you found ways to make money on your blog without compromising your values, I’d be thrilled for you. (And I live in a crappy thrift area, but still find inspiration in your blogs!)

    But when the premise of the blog becomes buying stuff, and the blogger becomes an influencer or when a blog becomes a narcissism platform, I’m out. Quite frankly, I’d rather read a magazine, because a magazine doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not and my expectations are properly managed.

    (Sheesh…clearly I have some feels on this!)

    • Agreed with you on all points! It’s part of what’s driven me away from blogs besides this one.