Open Thread: Best Brain Candy Books For the Summer?

brain candy books2016 Update: There are still tons of great suggestions in the comments, but do check out our more recent discussion on summer reading for working women

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.


  1. new york associate :

    My all time favorite comfort reads are books by Robin McKinley. Since she doesn’t produce as fast as I read :), I’ve also enjoyed books by Kristin Cashore (the Graceling series), Megan Whalen Turner, Elizabeth Bunce (terrific retelling of Rumpelstiltsken), Pamela Dean (mostly Tam-Lin), Shannon Hale, and Rae Carson.

    In the mystery category, I recommend Laura Lippman, Kate Atkinson, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Elizabeth George, PD James, and Peter Robinson.

    • Former MidLevel :

      Robin McKinley – seriously. The Blue Sword might be my favorite book ever.

      • 500% seriously! That is the book that I go back and read over and over every couple of years. love it so….

      • Alanna of Trebond :

        I think I might like Hero and the Crown better, but I wonder if it is because I read it first? I also like Gale Carson Levine, Phillip Pullman and Diana Wynne Jones.

        • new york associate :

          Yes to all of those! My favorite McKinley is probably Spindle’s End, but I love them all.


      Whooh. Ohhhk. Deep breaths, 1L. Yes, some one else has heard of your favorite author…but has she read your favorite book?

      New York Associate, I put it to you: Have you read The Thief?


      • new york associate :

        I have read all of them, including the Thief! Isn’t it an amazing book? She’s wonderful.

        • Yes, she’s absolutely wonderful! Actually, I was in the library today, and decided to get out all four books of the series to reread, because hey why not! and give them to my husband so he can experience them too!

  2. Love Julie James, who just so happens to be a former big law trial attorney. Her books are fabulous and often topical for me (and many of the ladies on this site I’m sure). My favorite is “just the sexiest man alive” about an employment discrimination trial attorney forced to help an actor train for a role – perfect beach reading.

  3. I just read “The Unlikely Disciple” by Kevin Roose — nonfiction by a Brown student who decides that if he really wants to experience a completely different culture, he should go to Liberty U. as an exchange student. Really engaging and thoughtful book, and a very quick read.

  4. CPA to be :

    Oooo… also, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe… it’s not that fluffy if you take it on a metaphorical religious level, but I read that book so many times as a kid that reading it again is like putting on a comfortable pair of pajamas.

  5. Thank you for this post! I’ve been dying for some book recommendations, so I will be combing through these comments with a fine tooth comb. I recently read Divergent (the first in a trilogy) and its a good one. I do not recommend Guilty Wives – not a fun or pleasant read at all!!!

  6. I am in love with a great book titled, “The Romanov Stone” by Robert C. Yeager. An intriguing historical romance centered around the Romanov’s.

  7. In-House Europe :

    Oh this is great. I actually have a spreadsheet and every time there is a book discussion on here I add to my list….looks like I will have some work to do tonight! :)

    I am a huge reader – I now have 450 books in my Kindle archive. But I think that the books I have read are pretty much already covered here.

    Currently reading “The last letter from your lover” which is pretty good.

  8. Given that the theme is guilty pleasures, here are some of my favs:

    Jennifer Crusie – love her supporting cast of characters in each book

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips – the Chicago Stars series

    Julie James – for those lawyers who like reading about lawyers

  9. I love book threads too… Not all of these are really easy reads, but my favorite recent authors/books at the moment, and I think some of them have not been mentioned yet:

    Philippa Gregory (already mentioned several times!)

    Emma Donaghue (I have only read ‘Room’ but it was great)

    Kate Morton (fun historical fiction, usually some kind of mystery involved)

    Diane Setterfield (I’ve only read ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ but I enjoyed it)

    Diana Gabaldon (I love the Outlander series — definitely a guilty pleasure)

    And some that I would not consider ‘easy reads’ but I really enjoyed them:

    Ken Follett (usually very long books, but I find them very interesting)

    Barbara Kingsolver (especially the Poisonwood Bible)

    Anya Seton (I read ‘Katherine’ which is historical fiction taking place in 14th century England)

    Herman Wouk (his books ‘Winds of War’ and ‘War and Remembrance’ were really interesting fictional accounts of World War II)

    My favorite genre is historical fiction, so most of these fall into that category!

  10. I just finished The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman by Karen Karbo. A fun, quick read – part bio of Chanel, part musing on what lessons we modern women can learn from Chanel’s life. Great if you love fashion (and you know you do hanging out on Corporette!).

  11. Completely agree with the recommendations of Divergent, Game of Thrones, Deborah Harkness .
    YA but dark- Pure by Julianna Baggott
    Fans of Ender’s game, also try Ender’s Shadow- takes you back to the beginning of the series but told from a much different character
    Fantasy realm- the Belgariad Series by David Eddings
    Historical Romance- You cannot go wrong with Joanna Bourne and her Spymaster series (0ften compared to Heyer)
    Chick Lit- The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne and Sophie Green Mysteries by Kate Johnson
    Mystery/Chick Lit light- Spellmans Series by Liza Lutz (think Stephanie Plum, but you’re far less likely to want to strangle the main character)
    Fantasy mixed with a lot of nerdy 80s pop culture- Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (not the best writing, but a lot of fun)

  12. Diana Galbadon’s Outlander series is wonderful historical fiction with a time-traveller twist and great characters.

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