The Keys To My Heart #9: Banterfluff

Posted September 30, 2014 by Debby in Discussions, The Keys to My Heart / 17 Comments

This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the bookish things that steal my heart.

#9. Banterfluff

If you follow this blog, by now you’ve probably noticed that I am a huge fan of the fluffiest of books. Today, I want to talk about the value of fluffy books (to me) and introduce you to some of my favorite titles so hopefully you can discover and revel in the fluffy as well!

The Case For Fluffiness

Christina from A Reader of Fictions wrote a post a while back about the fine art of fluff, which I highly suggest that all of you read. I agree with her 100%. I know that fluffy contemporaries are not everyone’s thing. Some people just read fantasy and sci-fi and there’s nothing wrong with that. But fluffy contemporaries often get labeled as “guilty pleasures” or “just cute” or any number of terms that seem to imply that these books are by nature less worthy of our time, attention, and praise. And I don’t agree with that. Fluffy books are extremely valuable to me. I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi as well, but very often my mind needs a break from that. It needs some fun, laugh-out-loud romance that will keep me entertained and lift my spirits. Fluffy books are the perfect solution to that, so yeah, I’m going to praise the hell out of them.

What gets me is when people read these fluffy books and only ever give them 3 stars. Now I’m not saying that every fluffy book is a masterpiece – there will be varying degrees of quality, just like with any genre. But I’ve been around the blogosphere and seen it often enough that people give a fluffy book 3 stars, but in their review don’t have a single negative thing to say, aside from, “It was just cute.” A book being cute does not seem like a problem to me, first of all, but on a larger scale, I wish people would give these books some more credit. They didn’t promise you heartbreaking character growth arcs or strained, complex family dynamics or whatever, and if you picked it up looking for that… well. It promised fun and cuteness, and if it succeeded in that mission, putting a smile from ear to ear on your face and leaving you in fits of giggles, I think you should praise that. I mean, it might not be the most meaningful book in your life in the long run, but it would be fair to distinguish the different levels of quality of fluffy fiction – and if you only ever give it 3 or 4 stars max, your friends & followers could miss out on the greatest, fluffiest, most happy-making book.

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I wonder if people are just scared to embrace the fluff – that they think it would diminish their status as a reader because the books are largely uncomplicated. Just because it’s uncomplicated doesn’t mean that it can’t be extremely well executed, which is worth mentioning. Or that they feel they need to be critical and can’t LOVE a “guilty pleasure”. Though these books will probably never win any literary awards, you can say you love them. And you should. Let’s embrace the fluffy! 🙂

Why I Read Fluffy Books

Like I said, sometimes I need a fluffy book to mix it up in between longer, denser, more complex sci-fi or fantasy reads. Sometimes I just had a bad day. Right now, I’m unemployed and not having a lot of luck on the job search, so yeah, I want cuteness and giggles. I want to be transported to a world where I don’t have to think too hard about anything and can just sit back, relax, giggle, and (usually) ship a couple very hard.

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It’s often not only that I want to smile and relax though. Fluffy books are usually heavily character-driven novels, which I am a huge fan of. And arguably, characterization is one of the hardest things to get right in novels – so again, I feel that deserves praise. Miranda Kenneally, for example, excels at characterization. Even when I can’t directly relate to her characters, she creates such depth that I understand them thoroughly and am completely enthralled when they get their happy endings.

I guess what I like is that the characters are all so real (at least in my favorite fluffy books). They may not have a tough backstory of abuse, trauma, or broken families (though some do), but more than anything, they’re living their lives and finding joy and amusement in the little things. Often they do still grow in small, yet significant and realistic, ways. I find it much easier to relate to the characters in these fluffy books than, say, a dark contemporary “issue book”. The normal day-to-day struggles they go through are relatable and can get me to reflect on my own life and choices. The family dynamics tend to be strong and healthy, and often there’s really touching friendships too. And I’d like to believe that life can be better – that, like these quirky characters, I too can find an uncomplicated happy ending.

“Banterfluff”

At a recent book club meeting, we were talking about fluffy books, and Daph and I quickly realized that there’s even two subsections of fluffy reads. She is a huge fan of Jennifer E. Smith‘s books, and I am decidedly not. I mean, they’re not qualitatively bad, but they don’t work for me. Why? They don’t have enough banter. Yes, I like fluffy reads for the romance, but I don’t like it when it’s all earnest, sweet, and sappy (usually with a side of melodrama). I need humor, teasing, and giggles. And so, we devised the term “banterfluff” – which is pretty much my favorite thing and is now already a term that’s diffusing across the blogosphere. Muwahaha.

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Banterfluff basically means that not only is the book light and uncomplicated, there’s a massive humorous undertone, usually due to fantastically witty and sarcastic characters. The ships in these books are my shining stars. They can easily use my favorite trope of hate-to-love romance to really up the feels. They tease each other, perhaps deny feelings, but, underneath it all, they understand and care for each other very deeply. It’s the dialogues in these books that get me laughing out loud and grinning ear to ear. I mean, usually they directly reflect my sense of humor. So, yeah, they are among my favorite books ever – and I know I can always turn to them for a quick reread to lift my spirits when I need it.

My Favorite Banterfluff Books

At Daph’s request, I then made a banterfluff shelf on Goodreads, so she could easily check on Debby-approved banterfluff titles whenever she needed to. I live to serve. And now, I’ll share some of these titles here with some bantery quotes to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

The Distance Between Us The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (my review)

“Is that your subtle way of saying you missed me last week?”

“I’ve missed my hot chocolate. I just think of you as the guy who brings it to me. Sometimes I forget your name and call you hot chocolate guy.” The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Catching Jordan Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (review coming soon!)

“Congratulations, Mommy,” I say, dropping the doll into his hands. “You could’ve told me I knocked you up.”
“My bad. I thought you’d force me to get an abortion,” Henry replies, taking the baby and cradling it as if it’s real. “He has your eyes, Woods.”
“And your hair.” The doll is bald. “Can we name him Joe Montana?”
“Hells no, his name is Jerry Rice.”
“No, his name is Joe Montana.”
“I was in labor with him for fourteen hours!” Henry exclaims as he rocks the baby back and forth. “His name is Jerry Rice.”
I grin. “Fine.” Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Anna and the French Kiss 2 Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (my review)

“Har. Bloody. Har.”
He smiles. “Oh, I see. Known me less than a day and teasing me about my accent. What’s next? Care to discuss the state of my hair? My height? My trousers?”
Trousers. Honestly. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

More banterfluff! (Click the cover to go to my review or the book’s Goodreads page.)

The Art of Lainey Ask Again Later MAGNOLIA Boomerang-pb-c One Man Guy Faking It The Trouble with Flirting On the Fence The Art of Wishing (2) Smart Girls Get What They Want Meant to Be Adorkable_B1.indd

Let’s Talk!

Do you feel fluffy books deserve more credit? What are your favorite fluffy/banterfluff books?

Let me know in the comments!

(Please be respectful and don’t bash the fluff if it’s not your thing!)

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17 responses to “The Keys To My Heart #9: Banterfluff

  1. Yes, claim your banterfluff! If I’m in the mood for something fluff and funny I always take a look at the contemporaries you recommend. I love banter (also in other genres. It’s the best kind of romance)

    Smart girls get what they want, On the fence, adorable: three books I don’t think I would have read without you. I really want to read The distance between us (I think I will read anything by Kasie West at this point) and magnolia. I’m also curious about Boomerang and of course your beloved The art of Lainey.

    You know how I feel about Anna though, haha.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted Monthly recap. September.My Profile

  2. I LOVE FLUFFY BOOKS! I would even go as far as to say that they are my favorites to read. I personally don’t give out five stars often (I reserve that for the very special books) so there aren’t a lot of fluffy books that have that received 5 stars from me – but that’s the same with any genre.

    There are so many reasons I love the fluffy, romantic books. Like you, I need fun, certainly. I think a lot more goes into reading that just what’s written on the page. It’s the readers experiences, and also what the reader is dealing with at the moment, too. Things haven’t been the greatest for me lately, and I’ve been craving the fluff majorly. So much so that I can’t even really handle reading anything else. And those books have been so helpful.

    And yes to character driven stories!!! I also think there is something to be said for books that don’t deal with these deep dark issues. I mean, those books are important, too. But I also feel like for the majority of people, books that deal with little things, or every day things, well that is just as important, and it’s what most of our lives are like. Does that make sense?

    I like some of Jennifer E. Smith books, but you know, I’ve never thought of them as fluffy. I like the banterfluff, too! I love The Distance Between Us, Anna and the French Kiss, Ask Again Later! And I’ve liked a lot of the others. Lately I’ve really been enjoying the Jill Shalvis books which are adult romances. I didn’t love the first book I read, but the last few I’ve been madly in love with.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To ReadMy Profile

  3. Banterfluff is the best thing I’ve ever heard! Brilliant!!! Personally I love fluffy contemporaries, although it’s sort of a new discovery for me. Before I thought most contemporaries were issue books or sad or heartbreaking, and I wasn’t in the mood for that. I like my heartbreak wrapped up in a fantasy coating! But then I found Meant To Be and oh my GOODNESS I loved that book! I read it in a day and I was hooked. Then I found Anna, which is such a favorite of mine (I’ve read it three times now) and I realized that romantic comedies could exist in book form! You have such excellent choices, I really loved The Art of Lainey and The Distance Between Us too, and thought Ask Again Later and On the Fence were cute. I’ve been wanting to read The Art of Wishing and Adorkable! Now I must 🙂 Catch a Falling Star has pretty cute banter; it’s worth getting at the library, quick read.

    I’ve noticed the 3 star dilemma too but personally I’m more than happy to give a fluffy book a 4 or 5, and I have. I don’t judge all books the same way so I suppose I use a sliding star scale, but I do try to judge them against similar books, and on their writing, their characters, how they made me feel. And since I explain WHY I liked the book and what worked/didn’t work for me, I’ll grade it as high or low as it deserves.

    He’s so fluffyyyyyyyy- perfect! I love this post a lot and now I want to read more banterfluff 😀 Sometimes it just hits the spot.
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted Top Ten Tuesday: Twelve Books On Our Fall To-Be-Read ListsMy Profile

  4. BANTERFLUFF! This is the perfect term to explain it – I feel like everything is now right in the world. And in that case – yes it’s my favorite type of fluff 😉 I can’t really stand the sappy stuff, but if it’s snarky and humorous and they STILL fall in love and are the most adorable thing ever then basically I’m sold and I’ll read it all day.

    I honestly don’t understand how people can write off fluffy books. I’m a huge SF/F fan, but sometimes those get too dark or just plain complicated for me to read one after another. I need the uncomplicated cuteness of a fluffy book to balance it all out!
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted Top Ten Books That Were Hard to ReadMy Profile

  5. This post is just PERFECTION. Preach, Debby, preach. Seriously, people need to show more appreciation for fluffy books. They exist to make your reading experience a happy one, with lots of giggles and LOLs- what’s not to love? I’ve read all the books you’ve recommended (and absolutely enjoyed them) except for One Man Guy- I gotta go check that one out now. Other fluffy books I enjoyed: Ditched, The Lonely Hearts Club, A Little Something Different, Summer on the Short Bus, Just Like The Movies, Biggest Flirts. 😀
    Hazel @ Stay Bookish recently posted Jen E. Smith & Lissa Price in Manila 09/21/2014 + GiveawayMy Profile

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