Open Thread: Best Brain Candy Books For the Summer?

brain candy books
I’m having a rough Monday for a reason I suspect is familiar to many of you: I was up until 2:30 last night finishing The Hunger Games. (Yes, I FINALLY read it after years of readers recommending it. Now I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD!) We’ve talked about brain candy before, but with summer beginning (and, theoretically, vacation time), I thought I’d start an open thread today: What are your favorite brain candy books — you know, the ones that are such easy and quick reads that you can’t help but count them as guilty pleasures?

Some of my favorites:
- Julia Quinn (especially The Bridgerton Series)
- Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse mysteries
- Sophie Kinsella (especially The Undomestic Goddess)
- Pretty much anything by Malcolm Gladwell

Longer reads (but still favorites) include White Noise by Don DeLillo, Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood, and The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

P.S. In a much (much) more serious vein, I just wanted to direct anyone who’s suffering from domestic abuse (or knows anyone who’s suffering) to the weekend open thread, where a lot of commenters gave some great advice to a reader who is suffering.  There are some great tips in here, including an anonymous domestic abuse hotline.  To the original poster and everyone else who wrote in to say they were victims, my heart goes out to you.  And to everyone who wrote in with helpful advice, big hugs — you make this a great community.

Comments

  1. K... in transition says:

    I would never have thought to post this here but I’ve gotten 3 emails asking me to do so here goes: I am a licensed therapist offering skype/phone sessions for traditional therapy and for coaching (job, life, dating, organization, etc.). Discounts available for C*rp*rette and for those who book multiple sessions at once. Payment is self pay only. (a website is in the works) Feel free to contact me for info or to send my contact info to others you may know. Professional email is kryss.shane at gmail. (you guys already knew my real name from my posting my magazine column months ago lol) lovelovelove to those who encouraged me to post this here and to everyone who has a bad case of the Mondays!

    • Kontraktor says:

      Do you have a fully populated linked in page? I wonder if you might be able to get some bites that way. Also, this might be a weird suggestion, but do you think you might advertise on Craigs List? I have seen a lot of independent vendors posting ads there (we hired a couple of wedding vendors that way, as well as some people for home improvement projects).

      • K... in transition says:

        have a web guy working on my website, hoping it’s done soon (and yes, before people email to ask, I’ll post it here when it’s done)… will post on CL too, good idea, Kontraktor! :)

        • Kontraktor says:

          I think CL is honestly a totally legit place to advertise. Some people might have a stigma against it still, but I think those people don’t realize what a great resource it is. I have actually found a ton of 100% legit companies and vendors posting job and service advertisements on there- I have even had it confirmed by large some companies’ HR reps that they will sometimes use CL to try to bypass the ‘regular’ hiring process. So, it is absolutely a legitimate place to try to generate business. Just make sure your posting is fleshed out well and includes good wording so that it will get picked up by people’s key word searches. Also make sure to post a few different boards (not just your local board), since you are offering remote services that can be done from anywhere (might also help in terms of traffic coming across your ad).

          • Anonymous says:

            I got my job through CL! And it is completely legit.

            A lot of smaller companies advertise through CL because it’s so inexpensive compared to other job sites.

          • +1 on Kontraktor’s assessment of CL. I found my first legitimate advancement job on CL — which in turn spawned a career that I love.

  2. associate says:

    Divergent by Veronica Roth. Similar to Hunger Games in that it deals with teenagers living in a post-apocalyptic society. It’s part of a trilogy but I think the third book hasn’t come out yet.

  3. K... in transition says:

    I would never have thought to post this here but I’ve gotten 3 emails asking me to do so here goes: I am a licensed therapist offering online video and phone sessions for traditional therapy and for coaching (job, life, dating, organization, etc.). Discounts available for C*rp*r*tters and for those who book multiple sessions at once. Feel free to contact me for info or to send my contact info to others you may know. Professional email is kryss.shane at gmail. (you guys already knew my real name from my posting my magazine column months ago lol)

    lovelovelove to those who encouraged me to post this here and to everyone who has a bad case of the M*ndays!

  4. This summer I got hooked on the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward and when I finished that last week, I started on her Fallen Angels series (which I might actually like better). The books are paranormal romance, but Ward is a good writer and the plots are interesting and easy to read.

    • Britney says:

      I’m late to the party but I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I haven’t checked out Fallen Angels yet, but I’ll have to.

      I also like the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. These are the only romance novels I’ll pick up. I hate that I’ve caught up and now I have to wait for the next book in each series.

  5. Had to make myself go to sleep last night at 1 am even though I was 90% through a good book.

    Love that you mentioned Julia Quinn! I recently found her while checking out library books for my Kindle and thought she was my own dirty little secret. Great, funny writing.

    I’ll also add Debbie Macomber and Robin Carr books to this list.

    • I love Julia Quinn too! She’s in the middle of the Smythe-Smith quartet, which is a followup to the Bridgertons. I highly recommend everything she writes.

      I like Debbie Macomber but find her books formulaic, so I try to limit how many I read. I do like the Blossom Street series though.

      Stephanie Laurens and Sabrina Jeffries are other romance authors I like very much. Oh, and Suzanne Brockmann has a Navy SEALs series that’s excellent.

      • karenpadi says:

        If you like Stephanie Laurens and Julia Quinn, check out some old school romance. I like Kathleen Woodiwiss, Judith McNaught, and Catherine Hart. They aren’t quite as PC as current romances but they are entertaining.

  6. This question would be easier if I had my bookshelf in front of me…

    Suzanne Brockmann – Troubleshooter’s series, lots of character development and reoccurring characters from book to book
    Eloisa James – Historical Romance
    Julia Quinn – second the Bridgerton’s
    J.D. Robb – Nora Robert’s writing near future police mystery with romance – nice long backlist
    Laurell Hamilton – vampires and werewolves
    Courtney Milan – historical romance (fantastic reads, hard to put down)
    Pamela Clare – contemporary romantic suspense
    Stephanie Laurens – historical romance, gets repetitive in her character types after awhile but it’s good for a few go-rounds
    Louisa Edwards – contemporary romance and cooking!

    • I like Stephanie Laurens for the fact that she is a bit repetitive, if that makes sense. Her old novels are still the best, but there is something to be said for knowing what you get when you pick up a book. (In this case, escapism).

      Have you read Eloisa James’ Paris book? It’s a good little read for when you want to pick something up and not have to follow the entire plot, but just read a couple of pages every now and then.

      J.D. Robb is also quite good. But I also like most of Nora Roberts’ contemporary criminal romance novels.

      • JD and Nora are another example of knowing what you’re going to get :) I haven’t read the Paris book yet. James is kind of falling off my radar, I guess – her last book (the princess and the pea retelling) was hard for me to get through. I don’t know why. I might be phasing out of my romance novel period (which has been about 15 years long). I’m a lot pickier than I used to be.

  7. Selia says:

    Love many Sophia Kinsella books – agree with Kat that Undomestic Godess was a good one!

    Also, any of the Georgette Heyer that I have read have been enjoyable (and I have read at least 20!)

    Also, all the Emily Giffin books have been good fluff reading (Something Borrowed, Heart of the Matter, etc.)

    • Alanna of Trebond says:

      Second Sophie Kinsella–LOVE Undomestic Goddess and Twenties Girl (and even her new one, I’ve got your Number).

      • Your psued just reminded me…

        I reread the Lioness Quartet series by Tamora Pierce every five years or so. Definitely YA books in theme and content, but they really hold up.

        • Alanna of Trebond says:

          Haha, I obviously read them a lot. I also like her Wild Magic Series, but not quite as much (otherwise I would comment as Veralidaine Sarrasri).

    • Latina says:

      I loved all the Emily Giffin and Sophia Kinsella books. The only book I couldn’t read was “Can you keep a secret.”

      I feel like I read so much serious stuff at work all day and these books allow me to forget about everything and just relax. I love to read. My problem is that I am sleep deprived and by the time I get through 1 chapter I fall asleep while reading. It takes me a very long time to finish books at my pace :)

      • I had the same problem with falling asleep – that added to (or caused by) my normally ridiculous workweek and I’d stopped reading altogether.

        Enter audiobooks. I found a website with free audio-books (they have e-reader books, too) through my local library and started getting through 2-3 books per week. I listen to them while walking, doing laundry, getting ready for work, etc. No more falling asleep!

    • darby says:

      along the lines of Emily Giffin, I love Whitney Gaskell books & Jane Green’s books

    • I also love Georgette Heyer! They are books I can read over & over & over again, and they get better with each read.

    • Someday, I am going to read all the Heyer books. J’adore.

  8. Yes! to Julia Quinn. (Also in the historical romance category is Mary Balogh)

    In contemporary romance books – Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Bears series are a similar pleasure.

    Katie Fforde has these cozy British semi-romance novels that just makes me feel happy.

    Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series.

    Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

  9. I like to go back to childhood favorites that get more interesting with age (at least, IMO) – Little Women is a good example. You know the story already, so you can just get lost in appreciating the new perspective. Sort of like in Toy Story, how there were puns and jokes designed for kids’ parents to find – a different level of enjoyment :)

  10. I’ve really enjoyed the Lauren Willig series, starting with ‘The Secret History of the Punk Carnation’ – it’s about a grad student in London researching Napoleonic era spies, with romance occurring in both the modern and historical eras. Great light reads with lots to make those of us who suffered through dissertations nod along in sympathy.

    • DC Law says:

      I am a fan of these too. Though they get repetitive after reading 4 or 5 of them. But they’re nice escapist-y fun, and there’s (some) historical accuracy too!

    • Anne Shirley says:

      And she’s a Harvard educated lawyer who wrote her first book while still at her biglaw job (i think). which makes her a kick=a$$ corp@orette writer as well

  11. Another Black Jacket Question says:

    Pardon the thread jack, but I wanted to ask a follow-up on Kat’s post last week from the reader who wanted to buy a black jacket to go with all her black pants. Many of you (rightly so) said not to buy a black jacket at all but rather go with a color or pattern.

    My question is–what if you already have the black jacket? I sprung for a beautiful, but costly, Armani suit. As a suit, it is simply lovely and I absolutely adore it. But one of the reasons I bought it (with a mind of quality over quantity) was to be able to split up the pieces and wear them as separates. So, any ideas of how to style a very plain black 3-button jacket? It’s made of an all-season, light-weight wool if that matters.

    • Liana says:

      Mix it up with grey pants. Or pencil skirt in other colors. Or over a dress. Just not non-matching black pants, unless the fabric is really different enough that it looks like you’re mixing and matching on purpose. I have a black blazer I love that I find really versatile, so have some fun with your closet and try things out.

    • Kontraktor says:

      Any way you would style a black cardigan might be a good way to start. If you have outfits for which you regularly use a black cardigan, try them with the black jacket and see how you like that look.

      I like to wear solid jackets with printed or textured skirts. Do you have any heavy and or colored tweed skirts? You could also pair a colored/printed skirt with a blouse that has one of the skirt colors in it and the black jacket. I also like to wear a black jacket over a simple sheath dress (printed or not- a black jacket could easily go over a gray, jewel toned, or cream sheath dress, as well as a darker printed dress).

      Another way to use a black jacket is to remember that black is a neutral and neutrals can generally be paired pretty well with other neutrals. So, a black jacket could pretty much go with almost any other colored neutral bottom (gray, navy, cream, brown, etc). For the top, a printed blouse with a little black in it is a good way to tie the pieces in together (think a blouse with black stripes or dots, a blouse with an abstract floral pattern outlined in black, etc.).

      This really isn’t general advice, but one of my favorite black jacket outfits used to be a black velvet blazer (but any black blazer would probably be fine), a textured light gray wool skirt (it had flecks of white thread in the weave), and a satin blousethat was very light peach and was trimmed at the hem and chest area with cream colored lace. I wore with black pumps/black bag and a drapey/multi strand pearl necklace. I had to get rid of my velvet blazer (I thought the contrast between the satin + velvet + textured wool was great and interesting) but I think of that outfit often and would wear it again as soon as I get a new black velvet blazer.

    • i have this issue, because i am constantly trying to stretch my couple of suits into as many suit separates outfits as possible. I have had to just be constantly searching for skirts/pants that are patterns with black in them that go with my black jacket. Which are much rarer than you would think, so I’m just constantly on the lookout and snap them up when i can find them. I personally don’t like solid black and solid grey together, I think it looks a little too like i mixed and matched two suits. So, I’ve found a couple skirts, tweed ones for the winter, and a ponte skirt with a pattern for summer.

      • Appealing Lawyer says:

        I know what you mean….I don’t like the solid on solid either. I will have to buy some patterned or textured things.

      • Liana says:

        Agreed. I have a pair of black herringbone pants that have become a surprise wardrobe workhorse for me. I mix grey and black often, but usually use contrasting textures to keep it from being too ‘mixed and matched two suits. Also, throwing in an interesting blouse with a bit of color or print as the focal point works too.

  12. Mine’s got to be Terry Pratchett. Discworld:)

    • JessBee says:

      Yay Discworld!! DH and I burn through Terry Pratchett books most summers. For the uninitiated, it’s humorous fiction/fantasy with a satirical edge. My favorites are the Night Watch books — start with “Guards! Guards!”. Here’s a great primer chart on what order is best, depending on which cast of characters you prefer (we’re currently working through the books about Death, some for the second or third time): http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/the-discworld-reading-order-guide-20.jpg

      I’m also currently reading my way through classic crime fiction. Almost all of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels are $7.99 or less on the Kindle store– I read them all over the last few months. Now I’m working on P.D. James’ Adam Dagliesh series, which are a little pricier but also take me a little longer to read.

      • Samantha says:

        JessBee, I am a HUGE fan of the Night Watch series and am so sad that there are going to be no more of them. Love, love Sam Vimes and Carrot and all the other characters. I think this particular series surpasses all other Pratchett writing by far, as it benefits from his sense of humor but also has the undercurrent of struggle and seriousness and heart.

    • cofax says:

      Not just Discworld, but particularly the Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax books. So much fun.

      • JessBee says:

        Oh, excellent point! I meant to also recommend “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, but I got so excited about the Discworld stuff that I forgot.

        Man, I love Terry Pratchett.

  13. If you like historical fiction (especially Tudor England) I definitely recommend Philippa Gregory’s books. I’ve read a bunch of them and enjoyed them all.

  14. CPA to be says:

    Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle– not much in the way of a tightly woven plot, but lots about traveling around Europe, trying to catch an art forger, gourmet meals, fancy houses, etc.

    And for those of you who like YA lit, the “Malady of Magicks” trilogy by Craig Shaw Gardner. These are more comedy than they are anything else. It starts out as the story of an inept wizard’s apprentice trying to cure the wizard after a spell goes wrong and the wizard becomes allergic to magic.

    Total brain candy. I’m a little bit embarrassed that I have these on my bookshelf, but sometimes you just need some candy.

    • I love YA lit, too. I just read “Graceling,” by Kristin Cashore. There is a second book called “Bitterblue” but I haven’t read that one yet. Foreveryoungadult [dot] com has a ton of recommendations, plus some other fun things like Hunger Games themed cocktail recipes, etc.

  15. Crow’s Row by Julie Hockley

    • Finally away for work, so here’s the Amazon description:

      For college student Emily Sheppard, the thought of spending a summer alone in New York is much more preferable than spending it in France with her parents. Just completing her freshman year at Callister University, Emily faces a quiet summer in the city slums, supporting herself by working at the campus library.
      During one of her jogs through the nearby cemetery while visiting her brother Bill’s grave, Emily witnesses a brutal killing-and then she blacks out. When Emily regains consciousness, she realizes she’s been kidnapped by a young crime boss and his gang. She is hurled into a secret underworld, wondering why she is still alive and for how long.

      Held captive in rural Vermont, she tries to make sense of her situation and what it means. While uncovering secrets about her brother and his untimely death, Emily falls in love with her very rich and very dangerous captor, twenty-six year- old Cameron. She understands it’s a forbidden love and one that won’t allow her to return to her previous life. But love may not be enough to save Emily when no one even knows she is missing.

  16. mamabear says:

    This weekend I read Ed King, by David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars. It is based on Oedipus Rex. I could literally not put it down and pretty much spent my entire Sunday reading it.

    I bought it because I had heard one of the main characters was an actuary (!) but I liked it far beyond that gimmick.

    • mamabear says:

      Oh, and for vacation reading, anything by Jennifer Weiner. I started with Good in Bed and have been working my way through her catalogue. Some of them are a bit tear-jerky for me but they are also very funny and the main characters tend to be extremely relatable.

      • Oh I love Good in Bed! One of my all-time favorite books, and I thought it would just be light summer reading a decade ago.

  17. Totally mindless reading but I’ve been reading Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen murder mystery series on the treadmill. The recipes remind me of my childhood – a lot of mixes!

    • luluaj says:

      Me too- I have been hooked on these too. Good enough story to keep me interested but not great enough to keep me up all night finishing them!

  18. Sorry for the early threadjack but you ladies seem the perfect people to ask, regarding this! Reposting for visibility.
    Had such a ridiculous day today, that I thought I’d ask for advice on this.
    I can be terribly perfectionistic and obsessional about things and, I guess, somewhat anxious-avoidant too.
    I work two jobs and do have impossible assignments thrown my way on and off, which are usually difficult to work around diplomatically. I now notice myself procrastinating over particularly difficult or stressful tasks. Like not opening or downloading an attachment; that sort of thing. Its worse than before, so perhaps linked to some form of learned helplessness.
    Whatever the reason, it is very clear that this avoidance only aggravates problems, some of which really aren’t even that bad.
    Really need to grow up and get over this. Has anyone had similar issues? I feel like its just me but perhaps it’s not.. Would really value your suggestions or advice.
    Thank you!

    • A thought says:

      My motto is “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough”

      Repeat as needed.

      I often have trouble starting a big task. I tell myself I can’t start until I have enough time blocked off, a snack, finish X,Y or Z first…. What helps is to write down the steps I know I’ll need to take and then just start with a small one. Like: 1) copy and bind big attachment; (2) review attachment; (3) draft response; etc.

    • AnonInfinity says:

      When I get a big, overwhelming task that seems impossible, I break it down into smaller steps. Just doing one step at a time will eventually get the thing done. This could help with your problems about not getting started/opening the attachments/etc.

      As for the bigger issue of perfectionism, one of my favorite people once told me to “Land the plane.” If I find myself obsessing over a project and spinning my wheels, I say that to myself. Then I really do it. This is similar to A thought’s advice above. It will never be perfect, so just let it be good enough.

    • Whoa! says:

      Fate! I bought The Now Habit a few months ago and finally started reading it today. It deals with this exact issue (which I have too) and I almost started crying on the subway. You need to buy the book. It helps you deal with the anxiety underlying procrastination to resolve it. It goes beyond methods (break stuff up, do bad stuff in the morning) and deals with strategies for life. Is amazing.

      • OOOhh says:

        I definitely need this book – checked it out on Amazon and am torn between The Now Habit and The Now Habit at Work. Any suggestions out there? Will the second be largely repetitive?

  19. K... in transition says:

    Not sure these are super beachy reads, some get kind of dramatic since they’re non-fiction, but Raising Abel by Carolyn Nash and Without You by Anthony Rapp are books I read in one sitting. Am also a fan of compilation poetry books… I’ve had some since I was really little and marked the ones I loved. Each time I read them, I mark the ones I love. In some of my books, I have over 20 years of book marks and it’s very cool to see which poems have several markings because they touched me during each of the years of my life when I’ve read them!

  20. Commute on Bicycle says:

    Threadjack:

    To the Corporettes who commute bicycle: Can you recommend a raincoat? Preferably one that is long enough to cover part (or all) of the thighs.
    I really love this Lululemon one (which is why it sold out, I am sure). I am not so fond on the original price, though, I like the sales price much better.
    http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/women-we-made-too-much/Ride-On-Rain-Jacket-MD

    Thanks in aqdvance.

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