Have you ever felt your cheeks go hot with embarrassment as a stranger catches the title of the novel you\u2019re reading? Whether it\u2019s the train ride home from work, the beach, or at a local cafe, I generally have a book in hand.\u00a0 Often I\u2019m too preoccupied gallivanting with characters (who have much more exciting lives then my own) to notice odd glances in the direction of the cover I\u2019m reading. However, I am ashamed to admit that I have been guilty of removing the plastic book covers from my well-worn Danielle Steels, leaving a blank, anonymous book in my hands. Poor Danielle, it\u2019s not her fault that I\u2019m embarrassed to read her novels in public. After all she is one of the bestselling authors alive! It\u2019s purely due to the fact that I feel subjected to book snobbery when I read women\u2019s fiction.\r\n\r\nI know this may sound silly, I\u2019m a woman and I like women\u2019s fiction. I shouldn\u2019t feel the need to refer to the genre as my \u2018guilty pleasure.\u2019 Because it isn\u2019t my guilty pleasure, it\u2019s my all the time pleasure. Yet due to the slightly degrading term \u2018chick lit\u2019, which women\u2019s fiction is often referred to, I do feel a little insecure.\r\n\r\nWhat makes a text 'women's fiction' over literary fiction?Image Credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy via Flickr Creative Commons.\r\n\r\nWikipedia refers to \u2018chick lit\u2019 as being \u2018genre\u00a0which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.\u2019 And although Wikipedia is often criticised for its credibility, I actually think this is a fantastic definition of the term. However, I guarantee if you were to ask a handful of your friends (who don\u2019t indulge in the genre) to define \u2018chick lit,\u2019 you may find descriptions such as \u2018romantic dribble with no substance,\u2019 \u2018books for spinsters\u2019 or \u2018beach reads.\u2019 In comparison the high and mighty term \u2018literary fiction,\u2019 is reserved for the work of \u2018critically acclaimed\u2019 authors or those who produce \u2018serious\u2019 pieces of writing.\r\n\r\nAs a female living in the 21st Century, I feel it is my duty to note that the issues that women face on a day-to-day basis are extremely serious. I believe that if an author can help us to navigate through the tangled and often terrifying path of being a woman, then they deserve to be recognised. Not as creators of \u2018chick lit\u2019 \u2013 a term which I believe discredits both authors and women alike, but as creators of witty, inspiring characters who often act as our best friends. Heroes and heroines of this genre offer support, guidance, exasperation and most importantly a sense of humour when life is looking grim.\r\n\r\nI can\u2019t tell you how reassured I feel when I stumble across a fictional character who shares my confusion of the opposite sex, is in a constant state of indecision and will admit the un-admittable. Women\u2019s fiction is my safe place. It\u2019s where I go when my world is a little too chaotic and I would prefer to witness someone else\u2019s dramas, almost always with an understanding nod or a sympathetic sigh. Although my issues may seem trivial or unworthy of being considered subjects of \u2018literary fiction,\u2019 they are the issues of the young modern day woman, and you have to ask: why should that mean they are less literary?\r\n\r\nMy TV equivalent of reading great women\u2019s literature is watching the American series \u2018Girls.\u2019 Even though it\u2019s fictional, it is so honest and uninhibited that I cringe and laugh and cry with Lena Dunham as she shows us what it\u2019s like to a young woman in today\u2019s world.\u00a0Dunham\u2019s candidness offers a truly refreshing outlook on the lives of young females. She strips away the glamorous pretences of being youthful, and instead highlights the period of contradiction that we experience during our 20\u2019s.\u00a0 Many of us are stuck between being children and adults and struggle to put the pieces together to form the ideal women that we are expected to become. Dunham uses humour to communicate some of the very real issues we experience growing up - social pressures, career pressures, anxiety, meltdowns and heartbreak.\r\n\r\nAlthough her tone is comical and her protagonist \u2018Hannah\u2019 is considered supremely self-absorbed, she is undeniably loved by my generation, because she represents what is real. She doesn\u2019t set unrealistic benchmarks for the rest of us to admire, she lives our lives and isn\u2019t afraid to show us failure. In the film industry Dunham\u2019s work may be considered the \u2018chick lit\u2019 of the television world, but I guarantee her work is far away from \u2018a beach read with no substance.\u2019 She has impacted my life, and taught me more about being a woman than any award-winning film.\r\n\r\nDavid Nicholls' bestseller 'One Day'... does it deserve the 'chick lit' label?\r\n\r\nSimilarly, many of the romantic novels I have read have given me more pleasure than the books I own which are considered literary fiction. Being a self-confessed romantic, I admit that I thoroughly enjoy being taken along whirlwind love stories, many ending in fulfilment and happiness. However, I have also held on to many other truths from these books, for example David Nicholls\u2019 novel One Day portrays the cruelties of fate and analyses the impact that our decisions can have on the rest of our lives.\r\n\r\nNicholls did an incredible job communicating the harsh realities of growing up and the realisation that given the opportunity to spread our wings, we don\u2019t always succeed. It was very confronting following Emma and Dexter through their journey of self-exploration.\u00a0 I could relate to their naivety and willingness to explore, and felt their loss and anger as they finally came to grips with their feelings. One Day provokes us to consider the role of fate, choices, love and death, all of which I believe deserve intense recognition.\r\n\r\nI understand that not all romance fiction novels provide the same level of intensity or insight, but I believe that if a book can give someone pleasure, joy and understanding it is worthy of credibility. The way that someone may rejoice over reading the complexities of religion, politics and world science (all of which I consider \u2018serious\u2019 topics) is the way that I feel reading about the complexities of the modern day woman.\r\n\r\nI believe that writers of women\u2019s fiction have the ability to speak to us on another level, the level of a best friend. And I believe that having a best friend to influence us, guide us, and support us is one of the most precious gifts in the world. If a book can give us this gift then the term 'chick-lit' doesn't do it justice.