Brain Candy

Being a writer, I tend to analyze everything I read, even the books I enjoy. I’ve learned a lot by studying the writers I admire. Sometimes, though, my brain just needs to shut down. To be completely laid back and relaxed.

That’s where the books I call “brain candy” come in. Sometimes your body just craves a treat, like ice-cream (and not the cheap-o Wal-Mart brand either, but the good stuff), and sometimes your brain craves a treat too. Brain candy might be different for every person—my husband watches Mystery Science Theater or plays video games when his brain needs a break—but my favorite brain candy are a certain type of book.

It doesn’t need to be a particular genre, though I seem to gravitate toward detective novels. There’s just a certain type of book that doesn’t make me think at all—and while I usually shy away from that, sometimes I love it. It doesn’t matter if it’s well written or not—I’m not reading to analyze or learn.

My favorite brain candy books?

Probably the ones I’ve read the longest for brain candy are Agatha Christie’sHercule Poirot novels. Well-written, yes. She’s my favorite murder mystery author. These I count as brain candy only if they’re re-reads, because the first time reading through, I always have to see if I can beat Poirot to the murderer. (And I’m been sooo close sometimes!) 🙂

The Tea Shop Mysteries are others that I love. Not the most well-written, but I enjoy the atmosphere of the books. They’re really cozy mysteries, so they don’t focus so much on the mystery. True brain candy!

Anything by Erynn Mangum.

“What?!?” you say. “I thought you didn’t like romance novels!”

Ah, but these are chick-lit. Hilarious, fluffy, and pure cotton candy to my brain. Well…except Sketchy Behavior. That one was more along the lines of suspense, which doesn’t count as brain candy.

The Lucky Starr novels by Isaac Asimov. Yes, I know—he was the father of modern-day science fiction and a genius in his writing. I love his stuff. However, these books are slightly campy. In fact, Asimov didn’t even write them under his own name as first—he used the pseudonym Paul French.

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Again, not particularly well-written. And some might laugh when they see that I still read oversized novels about mice and otters. But I love them still. 🙂

So, I’m curious—what are your brain candy reads?

About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

7 comments on “Brain Candy

  1. My candy is Alexander McCall Smith – primarily the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (I think there are 14 of them now) but the other series are good too. Simply written, and simply beautiful, catching at the heart when you least expect it.

  2. Great topic of discussion, H.A.. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None was the first school book I enjoyed, and I’m sure had a real impact on me loving reading. History was my second favorite class, but there was something really special about how Agatha surprised me.

    Prior to reading this I hadn’t identified why some books lately have been so hard to get into. I had one where on the first page three people were mentioned, each with four or five signifiers (not sure the correct word), and after rereading it two or three times, I just put it down. I felt kind of stupid for having such trouble identifying who was whom, but now I realize I may have needed a more “brain candy” type of read.

    I have so many books that I’m 1/3 or 1/2 through, but recently I went back and finished Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan. Even though he has complicated plot and mystery, he presents it in an easy going way and which fun characters, so I’d call that one a brain candy book. There’s something about having characters you really care about that makes the read more pleasurable. Otherwise, it’s just work because you’re not enjoying yourself.

  3. Just about any book still on my shelf. Anne McCaffrey, Robert Aspirin (love those Myth Adventures!), Jane Austin, a handful of old favorites by one-hit wonders. Anything I’ve enjoyed before. New books are hard to enjoy on the first read because I’m too worried about whether I’ll like where they end.

  4. Hm, I’m not sure what I’d consider brain candy. I definitely don’t read romance, but I love books with humor, I suppose, for those times when I’m not looking to push my brain with a book. One of my favorites is “The Muse” by Fred Warren. Not that his writing isn’t lovely and even literary in moments, but the story is fun and the humor perfect, and that book totally pulled me out of a gloomy, grumpy mood.

    MIddle Grade books might be considered my brain candy, too. “The Kneebone Boy” by Ellen Potter is a good example, and another by her called “The Humming Room.”

    “Kat, Incorriigible” by Stephanie Burgis is another one I loved. Great name for a main character, I might add ;).

  5. Anything Terry Pratchett qualifies as brain candy–Jasper Fforde too. Granted, both authors like to twist your brains into knots, but I still love them. Anything purely abstract is relaxing for me.
    Also, Little House on the Prairie. Just open up and read a section about canning things or putting up meat or traveling on a train for the first time. Or the many tasty descriptions of food.
    Humor books as well: Dave Barry, Jeff Foxworthy, or Foxtrot/Pearls Before Swine collections.

  6. Hmmm…interesting question. I hadn’t really thought about which books I consdier “brain candy” before, though I know I have some. I would say anything that I’ve read before (or several times).

  7. I don’t know about “brain candy” but there are some I read out of “have nothing else good at the library.” Do those count?

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