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. K... in transition :

    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 :

      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 :

        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 :

          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 :

            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 :

    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.

    • Former MidLevel :

      Second Divergent. It’s a fun read. For pure, soapy escapism, I also really liked Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. I know, I know. The name is terrible. The covers are worse. But it’s my favorite type of story – girl kicks a**, finds love.

      • LOVE Vampire Academy (and the new spin-off series she’s writing, Bloodlines). And in addition to the girl kicks a**, finds love (with smoking hot guy) plotline, there’s also the wonderful friendship between the protagonist and her best female friend, which is nice to read as well.

      • SoCalAtty :

        Love the Vampire Academy series! I also really like the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison.

    • anon in tejas :
    • anon in tejas :

      if you’re a reader check out the corporette goodreads group!

    • Constance Justice :

      Have you read the second book yet? I haven’t pulled the trigger. Is it worth going back for more?

      • anon in tejas :

        Yes. It’s a little frustrating, but it’s a good ending and really sets up the third. Really liked it. It picks up right where the last one left off though.

  3. K... in transition :

    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.

    • 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 :

        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. 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 :

      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 :

          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).

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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 :

      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$$ [email protected] writer as well

  11. Another Black Jacket Question :

    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.

    • 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 :

      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 :

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

      • 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:)

    • 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):

      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.

      • 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.

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

      • 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.

    • Anne Shirley :

      And if you prefer a bit earlier in time Sharon Kay Penman has some great reads.

  14. CPA to be :

    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. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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 :

      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 :

      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.

    • 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.

      • 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 :

    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 :


    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.

    Thanks in aqdvance.

    • Not really what you were looking for, but this is an interesting concept:

      • Commute on Bicycle :

        I have running around to do during the day and would have to pack another raincoat, too bad, otherwise that would most likely be perfect.

        Thank you anyway.

    • CA lawyer :

      I recommend rain jacket + rain pants. Marmot makes good quality rain gear, including rain pants with side zips, which are convenient if you’re taking off your rain layer in front of others.

      • Commute on Bicycle :

        Not a fan of rain pants, because I am a dresses type of person. But their jackets look great, thank you!

    • I have the LL Bean Trail Model raincoat. It comes to my knees (I’m 5’3″), but can be unzipped from the bottom as well as the top so you can sit comfortably and move your legs. I really like it. It is unlined and does not provide warmth, which I also prefer; it’s roomy enough to wear over a fleece. Also, the hood can be adjusted to extend to a visor-like length, which is great if you wear glasses, and it is thin enough to fit under your helmet.

    • nashvillian :

      Have you heard of the Cambridge Raincoat Company? LGRAB just reviewed their raincoat.

  21. I’m reading “People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry. It’s a true crime story of a young British woman murdered in Japan in 2000. It’s really fast, engrossing, and I even feel like I’m learning a little bit about Japanese culture and the whole hostess thing over there.

    I don’t really go for vampire stuff or sci-fi post apocalyptic; give me a good murder mystery or true crime book and I’m happy.

  22. Shopping help :

    Last night at dinner I saw a woman in a navy blue maxi dress with thin white stripes, two inches apart maybe. She wore it as a tube top but had two straps tied in front that looked like they could have also been tied around the neck. Any ideas where I can find this dress? TIA!

    • J.crew has one possibility – the Amie double-stripe maxidress (on sale in black/ivory).

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I think I have that dress! It is from WALMART believe it or not. Mine is tea length b/c I’m pretty tall but I could see it as a maxi dress on someone shorter. I can be worn a million ways.

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        I also bought it “last season” to the extent that Walmart has seasons.

  23. I’ve been reading Sarah Vowell’s books (first Assassination Vacation, now Wordy Shipmates) based on a recommendation from a [reader of this website]! So thanks, whoever mentioned them, they are great.

  24. I veg by reading mysteries. Some favorites for people who are looking:
    -Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn books (Navajo Nation detectives)
    -Nevada Barr’s Anna Pidgeon books (National Park ranger solves mysteries)
    -Carl Hiaasen’s books (humorous thrillers set in South Florida; Skinny Dip is a good one to start with)
    -Richard Price’s books (darker crime novels set in New York/New Jersey)
    -Three Bags Full, by Leonie Swann (sheep solve the murder of their shepherd–absolutely terrific)

  25. Any suggestions for books or series similar to Hunger Games? My DH flew through the Hunger Games trilogy, and he is NOT a fiction reader. My English-major self was super excited to see him reading something other than the Economist (not that there’s anything wrong with that, either). I’d love to offer him some suggestions!

    • It’s not thematically similar, but the last book I read that was as exciting as the Hunger Games was Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Like the Hunger Games, it’s plot-driven, the language doesn’t get in the way of the story, and it’s genuinely thrilling/scary but won’t give anyone nightmares.

    • um…my friends mom has published a couple books (small press, but available on amazon) that are a little more Handsmaid Tail than Hunger Games, but has that post-apocalyptic feel.

    • As said above, the Divergent series by Veronica Roth is very good and somewhat similar.

    • Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies/Pretties/Specials series. Post-apocalyptic series with a teenage lead who takes on the fubar political structure that enforces horrifying beauty and behavior standards. Also, really awesome action sequences. Great stuff.

      • Leslie Knope :

        Seconded! I was actually scrolling down to see if anyone had mentioned Westerfeld yet.

    • Thanks everyone! Time to check out Amazon…

    • The only fiction books I (an English major myself) could get my husband to read are Dan Brown’s books. Now he’s always on the look out for Brown’s next book.

    • anon in tejas :

      the uglies series is also pretty interesting

    • Ender’s Game – like Hunger Games but in space with a male protagonist. There’s a larger series, but I haven’t read them yet.

  26. Ooh! Ooh!

    As Meat Loves Salt – Maria McCann. Historical homoeroticism for the win! Love me an unreliable narrator.

    The Temeraire series – Naomi Novik. What impact would dragons have had on the Napoleonic war and 1800s geopolitical power dynamics? Just go with it. The writing is superb… Jane Austen meets Patrick O’Brien.

    • To be clear, I found both of these to be fast, easy reads, historically appropriate language and writing style not withstanding.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I can second the Temeraire series! If you like fantastical historical fiction you will enjoy these books.

    • Is Temeraire YA-level or strictly adult? We are going on a road trip with a 12-year old and I am considering getting the audio along.

      • Well, it’s written in a prose style mimicking Jane Austen or Patrick O’Brien. So your 12-yo might find the writing something of a barrier (although it’s an easy read for an adult), although the story itself is interesting. No overt sex, and there are a number of air-and-sea battles.

      • Fantastic idea! Man, those would make great road trip books.

        As a kid, I *loooooooooooooooved* Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger series… I would have given anything for my very own firelizard. I would have adored Temeraire as a 12-year-old.

  27. I absolutely love, and fly through, the majority of Madeleine L’Engle’s books. Amazing.

  28. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I just reread it and it was even better the second time around – and the sequel is coming out in July! I can’t WAIT!

    Also – a bit meatier but just as amazing – The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

  29. So anon for this :

    No one else has said it, so I will: The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, despite being really poorly written and edited, is engrossing and enjoyable, perfect airplane or beach reading (if you have a Kindle) or, um, perfect to read alone too.

    • Anonymous :

      I finished all three books last week. I hope there’s a 4th!

    • Question: I just read the first one last week. I was expecting it to be interesting, hot, a little risque — and it was, a little, but mostly I was just annoyed with the tritely innocent main character. Please tell me, does it (she) get better in the next two books, or should I call it quits now?

      • So anon for this :

        She gets better, especially in the third one. I thought the first one was the worst of the three. But the books are pretty trite, overall.

        • Hmm, then I’ll have to pick up the next one and suffer through to the fun bits. I know we’re not reading for high literature here….

          • So anon for this :

            I don’t think it’s really something you have to suffer through. If you generally like smutty romance novels, you’ll like this too – it’s not any more poorly written or unbelievable than your average paperback romance, and the sex scenes are better.

        • You were right. The second one is much more satisfying mind candy, with a less timid Ana. A delightfully trashy indulgence. :)

    • Not feeling the 50 Shades… I couldn’t get through more than halfway due to the poor quality writing and annoying charictarization.

      I think I couldn’t get past the fact that it’s Twilight fanfiction with the names changed. There’s way better stuff out there to read, both fanfiction (published and otherwise) and original fiction.

  30. For mystery fans, I really like Laura Lippman’s books. I also read a book a couple years ago called Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter that was quite good.

    Currently on my Kindle, I have Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague; Sarah’s Key; Brideshead Revisited; and The Tiger’s Wife. I also really liked Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by the same author who wrote Wicked.

    I also absolutely love the Song of Ice and Fire series (which many people know by the title of the first book, A Game of Thrones). If you like the middle ages, fantasy, or adventure, you’ll probably like this series.

    • Going through my past orders on my Amazon account – I also really liked Bound by Antonya Nelson, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, and Extraordinary, Ordinary Folks by Condoleeza Rice.

    • Second the George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire series, especially if you’ve watched Game of Thrones on HBO (although I’m a little annoyed that while the first series adhered pretty closely to the first book, the second series has gone a bit off track). I breezed through all 5, even though they can be quite hefty.

  31. I just adore The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. He releases one book a year, bringing the series to 13 delightful episodes this year. The books are set in Botswana and follow the escapades of the country’s only lady detectives … they get into all sorts of interesting predicaments! The character development is excellent, especially as the series progresses.

    • Equity's Darling :

      Yes! I have loved these books for years. I’m always so curious, and usually there are enough hints to keep me interested, but not enough to give me the answer:)

      There was one BBC tv season I think, but I have no idea what happened to that. Doesn’t really matter, the books are amazing.

    • Also love these!

    • English Rose :

      His Isabel Dalhousie series (starting with The Sunday Philosphy Club) is fab too, and he publishes one of these a year as well. They follow the editor of a philosophy magazine in Edinburgh who finds herself caught up in a new mystery in each book. I always try to take one on holiday.

      • Ooh – I may have to (finally) check these out. Along with like 50 other books mentioned on this thread….

    • Love these, also the Isabel dalhousie ones.

      Georgette Heyer.

      Philippa Gregory.

      Agatha Christie.

      And I just discovered Nancy Mitford.

  32. In a similar vein – My DH and I are planning a road trip (9-10 hours each way) for 4th of July and are looking for a good audiobook for the trip. We’ve enjoyed the Dan Brown books on road trips but have finished all of them. (And yes, I know they’re terrible, but anything that can hold my DH’s interest for 12 hours is great in my book!) Any suggestions for a fun, fast-paced, mystery/thriller type book?

    • Merabella :

      My DH loves audio books for his road trips. He has enjoyed the Relic Series by Preston and Childs. They did a horrible movie version of it in the 90s but the books are great. The whole series is read by Rene Auberjonois.

      • Just getting back to this, but thanks for the suggestion! I’ll look into those books :-)

    • This was mentioned above as well, but Stephen King’s book ’11-22-63′ was really good. It wasn’t a horror story like many of his other books. It’s about a man who goes back in time to try to prevent the JFK assassination. I thought it was hard to put down!

  33. Senior Attorney :

    A great friend of mine just released her first e-book! If you have an e-reader and you like chick lit, check out “Mr. Right and Other Mongrels” by Monique McDonell. She’s Australian so the slightly-unfamiliar cultural background makes it extra fun.

    I also love Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series.

    And I am currently about 1/3 of the way through “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and am love. ing. it. It got a lot of pre-publication press and so far is more than living up to it! Basically it’s about the disappearance of the female half of an unhappily married couple on the wedding anniversary, and it’s told in alternating chapters from his POV in present time, and her journals in the years leading up to the event. Big fun.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh, and “The Magicians” and “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman. Kind of a cross between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, with an all-hipster cast.

    • LOVE the Dresden Files. I found the first two a bit… lacking, but as of book number three I was hooked.

    • I finished “Gone Girl” and I LOVED it! Ms. Flynn’s other novels are fantastic as well, including “Sharp Objects”. Highly recommend!

  34. Ooh, I also have to add Lilian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who…” books. I’ve read them all (some a few times), but they were very often my summer brain candy in years past. I love a cozy mystery, and LJB did them really well.

    • Err, also I love cats. Which helps.

    • anon prof :

      I really liked those until I read one where the protagonist (the guy, not the cat) sort of stalks a woman and gets his jollies from freaking her out. It was creepy and made light of stalking. It’s not funny to scare a single woman walking alone, but the author treated it as humorous. I haven’t read one since.

  35. For supernatural YA fiction I really enjoy Cassandra Clare’s series Mortal Instruments (modern) and Infernal Devices (Victorian England – very steampunk-ish). Perfect for a summer read.

    • Graduate student help :

      Ahhh but Cassandra Clare has a history of plagarism!

      Mortal Instruments was also originally Harry Potter fanfiction (which I read once upon a time when the characters’ names were Harry, Hermione, and Draco!)

      • Heh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who still carries a grudge against her for the plagiarism.

  36. FormerPhotog :

    Lately on my long trips, I’ve been scarfing up ITunes U lectures on epidemiology from Yale. I’m thoroughly looking forward to finishing up smallpox and getting into cholera on my trip to Indy in a few weeks. I have a few other courses I’m looking forward to “taking”, too.

    I don’t read much fiction lately, preferring the pop-sci shelves – my friend just recommended “The Family that Couldn’t Sleep”, and I may put that on the iPad, and I’ll probably buckle down and read the Night Circus while I’m visiting family this summer…

    • I read “The Family that Couldn’t Sleep” a year or two ago and loved it. It sounds like you’re a med geek like me, so you’ll probably dig it.

  37. So, not terribly light, but I just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s long, but I could not put it down (full disclosure: I couldn’t stop crying either). It’s amazing what the human body and spirit can endure. I also liked it because I hadn’t previously learned/read much about the war in the Pacific, so it was really informative.

    For fluffier (mildly supernatural) fun, I’d recommend the Night Circus (AMAZING) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I also like Tana French’s books starting with In the Woods.

  38. Gail the Goldfish :

    My brain candy books that I will read over and over when I need to completely shut off the brain are pretty much all fantasy novels, and for the most part, young adult fantasy novels. One of my favorites that is not well known is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. (It’s now published as one book, but was originally two-Crown Duel and Court Duel. Make sure you get the combo). I pretty much read it over and over, particularly if I’ve had a rough week. It’s like a pint of ice cream in book form.

    I think all my other favorites have been mentioned. Tamora Pierce, George RR Martin, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton (earlier Anita Blake books, not the new crap). Also Brandon Sanderson and Diane Duane’s Young Wizardy series. (And, of course, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games)

  39. I just skimmed thru, so if these are duplicates, forgive me, but:

    Ann Bishop – the Black Jewels series, but all of her book as well. It’s kind of similar to the Song of Fire and Ice series, but with a much more woman-centric vibe. She calls it “Dark Fantasy” but I lurv.

    Charles de Lint – has a bajillion books, but he writes what he calls ‘Urban Fantasy’ that takes place mostly in modern day Canada, but with fairies and other references to fairy tale stories, etc, and awesome central female characters, and just super fun and easy to read.

    Wicked and the rest of Gregory Maguire’s books. Also, a super fast read, but I love how he kind of turns the stories we know around and has a whole different way to look at them. And he writes women really well, for a guy ;o)

    Also, if you’ve never read it, EVERYONE should read the original The Princess Bride novel by William Goldman. So funny, but in a lot of ways very different from the movie.

    And I second the Philippa Gregory rec from above. Love her!

    (I love book threads, thanks Kat!!)

  40. English Rose :

    Not sure if these are brain candy exactly, but for long flights I love old detective stories by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The need to find out what happens keeps me interested when I’m tired / bored of the flight.

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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!!!

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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

  49. 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!

  50. 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!).

  51. 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)

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

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