Chick Lit Before There Was Chick Lit

Without the books on this list, the genre known as "Chick Lit" would not exist. Whether in the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's or 1960's, each of these books chronicle young women trying to navigate careers and men to make it in New York City. Each was considered electrifying when it was published, and each one is just as engrossing today.


The Group

by Mary McCarthy

This novel follows the lives of eight young women, graduates of Vassar's Class of '33, for the seven years after graduation. Since it's the Thirties, they are determined not to be stuffy and hidebound like their parents, but to lead modern, liberated lives. Issues like birth control, homosexuality, psychoanalysis and Communist party affiliation are addressed frankly, which was shocking at the time, and which makes for fascinating social history now.

This book also appears on The Books They Read on TV's Mad Men


Marjorie Morningstar

by Herman Wouk

19-year-old Marjorie Morgenstern lives on Central Park West in the 1930's, is outgrowing everything from her past — her Bronx boyfriend, her Jewish surname, even her mother's traditionalist messages about sex. She believes she's destined for more than her likely fate of becoming a suburban matron. This book was written over 50 years ago but women continue to read and adore it.


The Best of Everything

by Rona Jaffe

What was it really like to be a "career girl" in New York City in the 1950s? This character-driven and engrossing novel focuses on five young women working at a publishing house and trying to balance romance and career. Affairs, sexual harassment from the boss (but they didn't call it that back then), abortions — it's all there.


Valley of the Dolls

by Jacqueline Susann

Jacqueline Susanne invented chick lit with this 1966 novel long before anyone thought to name it. This book follows three young women who came to New York City to make it big (one as a model, one as a singer, and one as a starlet) and chronicles their lives over a twenty year period, from 1945 to 1965.


Marjorie Morningstar (The Movie)

Flashlight Worthy Says:
While Flashlight Worthy is all about books, I occasionally throw on a related movie. In this case, how could I resist a Gene Kelly/Natalie Wood combo for the book Marjorie Morningstar?

I've seen this movie. It's... not the best. Gene's too old for the part. And they cut a ton of the story. But if you're a fan of the book you have to see the movie.


The Best of Everything (The Movie)

Flashlight Worthy Says:
This movie is a blast if you loved the book and actually a pretty good watch even if you haven't. Think 9 to 5 meets The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City all in the 1950's. :-)