Brain Candy Books and Other Fun Summer Reads

 brain candy books and other fun summer readsWith the holiday coming up tomorrow, I thought it might be a great time to discuss brain candy books — what have you read lately that you can’t wait to recommend to friends? What are you eager to read again? (Let’s try something new — please preface your comment with the category of the book you’re recommending, to make it a bit easier if you’re looking for a Thriller or Sci-Fi or Romance book it’s easy to find new suggestions!)

For my own $.02, I just finished The Power, by Naomi Alderman (affiliate link), recommended by Auntie M — she made me promise to read it and even though dystopian novels aren’t really my thing right now I was surprised how quickly I loved the book and the author.  Here’s the squib from Amazon:

In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

Other brain candy books I’ve read lately that I’d recommend:

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Like I’ve noted before, my reading definitely tends towards the trashy/fun romantic comedies in my off hours when I’m not reading more serious parenting/blogger/other work-related reading — they’re one of my favorite ways to relax after a stressful day. Also note if you’re reading very silly, fun things like romance books: the Kindle is incredible for this.

  • brain candy books summer 2018If you like Sophie Kinsella (rom coms without too many bedroom scenes): The Hating Game and Act Like It were both great; I’d put Eligible and The Royal We into this category also.
  • If you like Julia Quinn (more traditional romance books): The Duchess Deal was laugh out loud funny, and I’ve kind of binge-read everything from Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean. (*whispers*: If you liked 50 Shades, try Kresley Cole.)
  • Kids’ Books: I’m rereading a ton of Gordon Korman books with my son — he loves I Want to Go Home and we’re reading the Bruno & Boots books, although I think a lot of them are out of print now… If you’re looking for a funny high school book, I’ve always loved Don’t Care High and highly recommend! Has anyone read any of his more recent books?
  • Books on my reading list: I haven’t had a chance yet to read my old college friend’s new book, but a shoutout to Aimee Agresti and Campaign Widows, which is getting great reviews… I’d also like to read Fire and Fury (well, listen to it — one friend noted that she loved it so much she wanted to go to the gym). I also may try some sci-fi books my husband passed along to me because they weren’t his cup of tea, mainly Annihilation and The Stone Sky.

I’d love more recommendations for funny books — The Power was about as heavy as I can take things right now! What are your favorite brain candy books or other summer reading, ladies? 

One of Kat's favorite ways to destress is to read "brain candy books," ie books that are thoroughly enjoyable and pretty lightweight -- a nice change from some of the more serious political/parenting/business reading she does. She's sharing her favorite summer reads of 2018 today, and don't miss the reader comments with TONS of great suggestions!


  1. Non-Fiction/Memoir

    I just finished Educated by Tara Westover. Definitely not a fun or mindless read, but extremely well written and impossible to put down. The author grew up isolated, in a fundamentalist Mormon family on an Idaho mountain. She had no real education as a child but went on to earn a Ph.D from Cambridge (and is only 31 today!) but not without extreme conflict and chaos within her family.

    I have been recommending it to everyone.

    • I liked Educated too. Also in the non-fiction but very compelling read category is Bad Blood, about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.

    • Anonymous :

      Educated and Bad Blood are on hold for me at the library. I can’t wait to read both of them.

      I’ve read several good Kate Atkinson novels lately. I’m currently reading her first, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Also recently enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 and A Gentleman in Moscow and I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (which was a rec from this s*te).

    • Anonymous :

      I read Educated recently and was in tears. It was incredibly moving.

      • Anonymous :

        My aunt said she needed to put the book down a few times because she found it very challenging/upsetting.

        • Anonymous :

          Forgot my point: it sounds like Educated is the opposite of a fun summer read.

          • Anonymous :

            Ha…I actually just read it on vacation! But it was mixed in with a few trashy books, too.

            The book is definitely upsetting, but also incredibly uplifting and inspiring.

          • Depends on what your idea of a “fun” read is! This sounds right up my alley.

          • Thanks for the rec! I’m now number 184 on the library waiting list :-)

    • Thanks for the recommendation! Although I may not get Educated this summer—I’m 99 on the waiting list at my library.

      • Anonymous :

        Worth the wait, I promise! I waited about a month for my turn on the waitlist and then loaned it to my Mom so she could skip the wait (fortunately she’s a quick reader and I didn’t come close to missing the return date.)

  2. Romance recs :

    I know this has been brought up before but I failed to find by searching. Any recs for contemporary romance? I like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Julie James but have otherwise struck out trying to find others.

    • I’m currently reading a Julie Ann Long called “Hot in Hellcat Canyon,” and it is laugh out loud hilarious.

    • Summer Read Rec :

      I’ve read and so far LOVED Kate Clayborn and her Luck of the Draw series for modern romance. The gist is that three friends buy a winning lotto ticket together, and each woman has a book dedicated to her adventures in life and love post-lotto win. The first two have been so much fun to read, and I can’t wait for the third to be published!

    • Anonymous :

      Jenny Colgan. Her genre is exclusively “unfulfilled woman moves to tiny, quaint town to open a bakery/cafe/cupcake shop/sweet shop/bookshop and falls in love with handsome man.” Each book is like a little British romcom. They’re easy and adorable. The most recent was, I think, The Bookshop on the Corner and it was just lovely.

      You also can’t go wrong with Jennifer Crusie. Smart and funny books although tragically she hasn’t published a new one in years.

      • +1 on both of those!!! The Jennifer Cruisie books are fun too bc they are from the 90’s? and take me back to pre-cell phone life… Many more chances for missed connections leading to humorous results.

      • Ann Marie :

        Yes, I was going to recommend Jenny Colgan too. She is romantic comedy fiction. The books are basically all the same plot but they are so cozy and make you want to eat a scone and have a cup of tea in bed.

    • Nudibranch :

      For the humor aspect, you might give Penny Reid a try.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      I think this fits your ask…I love anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Somewhat silly plot lines (involving romance) but pretty good writing. Great for a plane or by the pool.

    • Anonymous :

      I really like Kristan Higgins.

    • babyweight :

      Ah, my people. I’m a lawyer by day, romance junkie by night.

      Penny Reid is a big thumbs up.
      If you like Rom Coms, Pippa Grant.
      If you like family sagas set in the real world, Kate Canterbary
      If you like over-30 characters with actual jobs, Mae Wood
      If you like historicals, Tessa Dare
      If you want the romance book version of Criminal Minds, Anne Connley

    • Those are 2 of my faves as well – here are some others that are automatic borrows/purchases for me. I tried to pick authors with series – nothing worse than reading a book you love & realizing it’s the only one the author has written:
      – Christina Lauren
      – Lauren Layne
      – Marie Force/M.S. Force (some series are hotter than others)
      – Alice Clayton
      – Lauren Blakely
      – Bella Andre
      – Sarah Morgan

      Jill Shalvis & Susan Mallery both remind me a lot of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and each have a pretty extensive series – after reading all of them, I’ve noticed they’re definitely formulaic but it doesn’t stop me from reading them.

  3. Housecounsel :

    David Sedaris has a new collection of essays out. It’s called Calypso and it is both hilarious and touching as Sedaris always is. I especially like the tales of family togetherness at his beach house, which he named the “Sea Section.”

    • Anonymous :

      I’m a HUGE David Sedaris fan and Calypso was his best book since Me Talk Pretty One Day, imo.

  4. Anonymous :

    Thrillers: my favourite genre of books right now is female-centric thrillers (like Gone Girl), preferably British ones, but I will read basically anything in this category. I just read Let Me Lie by BA Paris and was up until 1am because I couldn’t put it down.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      I recommend: The Last Mrs. Parrish, most of Ruth Ware’s stuff, The Marsh King’s Daughter (so good!)

  5. YA fiction: The Hate U Give. I could not put it down.

  6. Anonymous :

    Hmm, i wouldn’t put The Power into the “brain candy” genre. I found it really dark and got into big themes–religion, power, etc. It really wasn’t what I was thinking it would be when I picked it up and I DNFed it. *shrug*

    Recent favorites of mine: The Kiss Quotient (woman with Aspergers hires male escort for “lessons”), The Book of Essie (young woman from evangelical family on a hit reality TV show gets pregnant), the Beatriz Williams Schuyler Sisters series, Cork Dork (got that from here, thanks ladies!), The Light We Lost, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Young Jane Young.

    • Housecounsel :

      Does DNF mean did not finish? If so, I am absolutely adding it to my vocabulary. I didn’t finish The Power, either. I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and just didn’t feel drawn in. Did not know there was a Schulyer Sisters series! Looking into this!

      Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield is a great summer read.

      • Anonymous :

        Ah should clarify– not the Schuyler Sisters of Hamilton fame. I think she invented new Schuylers for the series, but I could be wrong. Still really fun reads, though.

    • Anonymous :

      I started The Kiss Quotient and can’t really get into it. I’m kind of icked out by the premise actually. If she doesn’t want to date anyone and doesn’t have sexual feelings, why does she hire an escort? Just live your best Temple Grandin life, girl.

    • KatieCorinne :

      Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine! Came on here just to comment on it. So so good. Highly recommend the Audible version for the accents alone.

  7. Anonymous :

    I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down.

  8. Silk tank :

    I’m looking for some silk tanks that can be worn with suits. I prefer a slight scoop, square or ballet neck. Straps and fabric need to be thick enough to conceal my bra if I happen to remove my jacket. I see some options on Everlane and Grana but the color selection is limited. Any recommendations?

  9. Senior Attorney :

    I just finished The Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler and I was riveted, although I have to admit the dystopian story lines seemed too close for comfort at this point (in the first book there is a presidential candidate who promises to Make America Great Again — this in a book from the early 90s).

    Also just re-read my old favorite Station Eleven and had forgotten that a lot of it was set in Toronto, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. I recognized many of the places and street names (CN Tower! Yonge Street! Queen’s Quay!) and that was a lot of fun.

  10. Children of Blood and Bone – I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish it. Nothing revolutionary in the fantasy genre but well written, thought provoking and totally gripping.

  11. Anonymous :

    I’m not a big “chicklit” reader (hate that word), but I just read the sequel to the Devil Wears Prada, When Life Gives You Lululemons, and enjoyed it heartily. It’s about Emily, the other assistant, and focuses on marriage and motherhood. Miranda Priestly pops up!

    • I also do not have much time to read, but would LOVE to hear about a book that focusses on marrage and motherhood. I have wanted BOTH for along time and think that if I do have the time to read, I will read this one. For now, I will focus on Marie Claire and Vogue. YAY!!!

    • I just finished this book, as well. I really enjoyed finding out what happened to Emily and following the characters in that novel. Recommend!

  12. Anonymous :

    Is this dress ok for a black tie optional wedding? It looks a little short on the model, but is closer to knee length on me. I’m 3 months postpartum, so I’m hoping people will be forgiving, but I don’t want to horribly offend anyone by not being formal enough. I don’t have any party dresses that currently fit me, and really don’t want to buy a fancy dress in my hopefully temporary larger size. This looks cute on me, or at least as cute as anything can look at the moment, and is the right price point. But this morning’s discussion is making me question everything, because I thought that dress was totally appropriate.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      The cut of it reads a little young to me – might be because it’s pretty short on the model. I think the color and pattern are fine for BTO though. But I thought this morning’s dress was totally appropriate too.

  13. How to find love in a bookshop :

    I stumbled onto the ebook of How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry, and I’m really enjoying it. Just sweet, light character-driven general fiction. I’m only about halfway through, but I’ll be surprised if it turns into anything radically different.

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