Babes in Bookland

Not quite chick lit, not the same as "Girl" books, "Babe" books are a literary category unto themselves.

Here in the Marie Claire book department, we're often amused (or, let's face it, a little bit exhausted) by the literary trends and motifs we notice among the dozens of galleys we receive every day. (Example: There are honestly about 400 "heartwarming," Marley & Me-esque dog books coming out in the next few months. Don't say we didn't warn you.) So when we heard about Holly Hill's Sugarbabe: The Controversial Real Story of a Woman in Search of a Sugar Daddy (out July 10 from Skyhorse), we knew, first, that we had to interview the author of this fascinating tome and, second, that the book is the latest in what we now realize is a category unto itself: "Babe" books.

Ever-so-slightly different from "Girl" books*, which the Guardian's Deborah Orr lambasted last month for being demeaning to women, "Babe" books focus on ladies with a little bit of sass and, one can only assume, a lot of heart. Or whatever. Read on for a selection.

Babes in Captivity, by Pamela Redmond Satran (Pocket Books, July 2004)

Four "babes" are living the dream — raising picture-perfect families in the cushy suburbs of New York City — but the sassy moms all feel something missing. One wants to be a singer, another wants to open a restaurant, and a third wants... another baby. Okay, maybe not so radical. But one can bet the band of babes will see each other through the hard times — and probably share some cocktails along the way. Because that's what people do in these books.

A Babe in Ghostland, by Lisa Cach (Pocket Star, December 2006)

"Babe" meets the supernatural: Author Lisa Cach tells the tale of Megan, a ghostbusting psychic who, having been attacked by an evil succubus, has turned to antiquing, like ya do. But when a sexy real estate prospector asks for her help with a haunted mansion, this spirit-savvy babe can't help but be swept back into her old life — and into the real estate dude's arms. Saucy.

Bindi Babes, by Narinder Dhami (Yearling, November 2005)

A young adult "Babe" book we think actually sounds pretty neat. Three British Indian sisters, ages 10-13, struggle with the death of their mother and rebel against their Auntie, who comes from India to live with them and their father — the feisty sisters plot to get rid of her by, among other things, trying to have her married off. Lessons are learned along the way, presumably, but we're kinda more into the scrapes and schemes.

Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War, by Deborah Copaken Kogan (Random House Trade Paperbacks, June 2002)

Call it a "Babe" Memoir: Kogan tells all about a series of adventures she had as a conflict-covering photojournalist. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Kogan struggles with the horrors she's photographing and against the gender discrimination she sees in the war correspondent world, all while diving into a series of love affairs with colleagues. Reviews call her more Bushnell than Amanpour — but we think Carrie Bradshaw's

Vogue pieces probably pale in comparison to Kogan's photographic adventures abroad, even if their sex lives might have been similar.

The Franchise Babe, by Dan Jenkins (Anchor Books, June 2009)

If the ladies want to call themselves "babes," we guess that's okay — but we can't help feeling a little icky when dude authors do it. Regardless, notable American sportswriter Dan Jenkins went for it with this novel about a sportswriter (imagine that!) bored with the PGA tour. He spices things up by switching over to the LGPA and following the fresh career of 18-year-old Ginger — and soon falls head over heels for her sexy single mom. If your dad's a sports guy, maybe save this one for next Father's Day, but these babes won't be picking it up anytime soon — the only thing that bores us more than skeezy middle-age love affairs is golf.

*Speaking of "Girl" books, one of our absolute favorite books this year — all snark aside — was April's Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Check it out.

Anna Maltby

Anna Maltby is an award-winning journalist and editor and was most recently the executive editor of Elemental, Medium’s in-house health and wellness publication. She was previously the deputy editor at Real Simple magazine and a deputy editor at Refinery29, and also held staff positions at Men’s Health, Marie Claire, SELF, Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health and Condé Nast Traveler. Her writing has appeared in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, O, Family Circle, Fitness, Redbook,,,,, FastCompany.com_ _and She received her BSJ and MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Anna is also an American Council on Exercise–certified personal trainer and functional training specialist, a certified prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, and a certified mat Pilates teacher. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two children, and two tuxedo cats.