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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kent State chapter.

Since I was a kid, I have loved to read. I love all sorts of genres and characters, all sorts of themes and plots. My favorite genre to read, however, has almost always remained the same: chick-lit. As much as I enjoy fantasy and thrillers and mysteries, there is nothing quite like a story about a woman falling in love. Despite my enjoyment of the genre, chick-lit often receives a lot of negative attention. But what is with the double standards? A lot of the writing process is the same for “women’s literature” as for any other genre of writing. So why must it be so polarized? Why is Ernest Hemingway’s work regarded so highly, while Emily Henry’s is not? Both writers are regarded as highly successful in their chosen genres and have both garnered large audiences of faithful readers. But only one is known as a national treasure. Why? 

My most recent read, “Beach Read” by Emily Henry, opened my eyes to this issue. I’ve always known that many people don’t give women’s fiction the same respect as other genres. But “Beach Read” brought this issue to the forefront of its story, as the main character January Andrews held resentment towards her love interest, Augustus Everett, due to his dislike for the genre she writes her books in. 

One part of the book that really resonated with me was when the two characters were discussing the differences between their writing styles, and January pointed out how ridiculous it is for there to be an entire genre called “women’s fiction.” She points out the absurdity of the double standard, highlighting that the only difference between fiction and women’s fiction is often the gender of the main character, yet one is held to a much higher regard than the other. 

This issue was one that had never really dawned on me until I read “Beach Read.” Since then, however, I’ve come to realize that it is not at all an isolated one. When asked the question “who’s your favorite author?” my mind immediately wants to say Emily Henry or Taylor Jenkins Reid. But I know that the moment I do, I will be seen as someone who doesn’t read to be an intellectual. I am simply a romantic. That’s all I could be, reading romance books, right? 

But in truth, romance is so much more than “Character A meets Character B at a coffee shop, the two fall madly in love, break-up and get back together just in time for the story to end.” Romance is full of nuances, both in real life and on the page. Love is one of the most complicated things the human mind and body can experience. It makes perfect sense that we, as humans, would want to attempt to capture that feeling and put it into words. 

I’d love to be able to fall in love everyday. There is no more exhilarating and thrilling feeling in the world. It is painful, messy and beautiful all at once. When a book manages to recreate that feeling, it is something truly special. Enjoying reading something that captures a feeling is not something to be ashamed of. In reality, more writers should be trying to captivate their audiences in such a way. There’s a reason why romance sells. Regardless of your personal opinions, love stories deserve to be told. 

Some of the greatest authors of all time wrote stories about love that share many things in common with the stories written by women like Emily Henry. Stories written in the fiction genre don’t hold any more artistic credibility than stories under the women’s fiction genre. The difference is simply in who wrote them. A story doesn’t have to be the next literary classic for it to have been worth telling, and that is something that not enough people understand.

I don’t believe that having a genre specifically to highlight and uplift women’s voices is a bad thing. But I don’t believe that was the reasoning behind the creation of genres like women’s fiction and chick lit. I think that the reasoning behind these can be boiled down to misogyny, and men wanting to have a way to separate women’s works from their own without making it too obvious. Today, I think that having a woman’s fiction section at your local bookstore can be both uplifting and incredibly helpful when it comes to trying to find a book that is just right. But having to create an entirely new subgenera of fiction simply so that men don’t mistakenly read a book about a woman falling in love is an entirely different issue.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to say that Emily Henry is the next Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway. I’m not attempting to liken her writing to that of Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott, either. I am simply saying that, despite the differences between contemporary fiction and women’s fiction, her stories make people feel something. Her ability to do so should not be discredited, or boiled down to chick lit. Because it’s not just for chicks. Stories like “People We Meet on Vacation” and “Beach Read” and “Book Lovers” make people feel seen. They help to reassure people that there is real love out there in the world. They spread a positive message, of a world in which there can be happy endings. And that’s what love is all about.

Hannah Planey

Kent State '26

Hey! My name is Hannah, I'm twenty, and a huge pop culture junkie. I love all things Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Glee, and sitcoms. I'm a sophomore at Kent State University, and a part of the editorial staff at Her Campus! I am majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing, and am really into writing in all of its forms. I hope to work in the entertainment industry as well as media in the future, and am so excited to be a part of Her Campus!