I love recommending books to fellow readers. (Which is handy, because I get asked for suggestions all the time.)
Most requests fall into now-familiar patterns. The most frequent one sounds something like this: Can you recommend a novel that’s entertaining, but not fluffy? Light, but not lightweight? Thought-provoking, but not depressing?
I hear what they’re saying: they don’t want chick lit. (I’m not crazy about this label, but it’s a million times better than “mommy lit.”) To speak in sweeping generalizations: these novels are funny, lighthearted, and amusing; plot-driven and light on character development. If you hear someone say a novel is like candy, it’s probably chick lit.
(I hardly ever read chick lit. Not that it doesn’t have a place.)
These readers want more substance than chick lit offers, but they don’t want literary fiction, either. They don’t care about “literary merit,” but they do want much of what literary fiction offers: a story that probes human nature, that’s honest about how people really are, and acknowledges their shortcomings. They want depth, something to discuss, something to make them think. These readers are looking for a good story, well told—but they’re not overly concerned with style.
(I read a lot of literary fiction.)
To these readers, I recommend books that hit the sweet spot between Serious Literature and fluff. These novels entertain and challenge: they’re thought-provoking, even if they’re done with a light touch. They’re insightful, but wouldn’t be called challenging.
These are a few of my favorite “sweet spot” authors. I alphabetized them because I couldn’t decide on an order!
What are YOUR favorite authors and titles in the sweet spot?