June 2, 2009

What is your favorite Brain Candy?

While out of town, I saw the article about the book industry meeting over an uncertain future. Actually, I would love to have a Kindle and if I were still a business traveler, I would already have one. It seems incredibly sensible and convenient to have one. But. It could never replace books for me. Reading a book is a multi-sensory experience - the smell of a book, the feel of a book, the font of the book (am I the only one who will reject a particular edition of a book if the font turns me off??). Hell, even the sound of a book as you flip the pages or crack the binding (or worse, as your toddler tears a page. Sigh.) A Kindle cannot replace that. But still, it would be convenient and I would never rule it out. One advantage of the digital age, it seems, is that folks are able to self-publish in a more reasonable manner. I know that Rita is putting things out there and that again, lends more power to the digital age of publishing.

Still, I would rather read a book.

I promised a post on what I refer to as Brain Candy - silly, fun, sometimes thought-provoking trifles of books that are meant to amuse. You can think deep thoughts at your own damned risk, folks. I have listed these by author - for some authors, I have listed a specific book that I particularly enjoyed. Some of these are guilty pleasures, some are not and truthfully, there are some damned good authors in here. I primarily included author links to Amazon. If I had attempted to link to every single book it would take me too long and I would most certainly make mistakes. Or, I am merely lazy. Your choice.

These folks write books that can be devoured in a Sunday afternoon. Brain Candy!
  1. Sue Grafton - the author of the "alphabet series", beginning with "A is for Alibi". The protagonist is Kinsey Millhone - a child-free, sometimes single, old-fashioned gumshoe who cuts her own hair. These books are set in the 80s, before the Internet. Millhone must do it her job Old School and the characters she meets along the way are worth the ride. Her wry observations on people and life in general make me wish I had kept notes while reading the series. Also, unlike another female detective who resides in New Jersey (*cough*), Millhone actually solves mysteries. What Millhone does not possess is a hilarious, funeral-stalking granny as a sidekick, I will grant you that.
  2. John Grisham - How could I not include John Grisham?? I have not read his legal thrillers for a long time now, I thought some of his later books were not up to par of his usual standard. Still, my favorite of his is "The Firm".
  3. Mary Higgins Clark - Another author I do not read any longer. A few of hers in particular, I do remember. "Where Are the Children" terrified me. A "Cry in the Dark" made me scream in the night when a nearby window slammed shut as I was reading this incredibly creepy book. I also remember "Stillwatch" being a tense read.
  4. Sidney Sheldon - Ah, Sheldon. Classic Brain Candy. Cuh-lassic. My favorite is "If Tomorrow Comes", but the other Must Reads would include "Master of the Game", "Bloodline", "Rage of Angels", "The Other Side of Midnight" and "The Doomsday Conspiracy". He also wrote a mystery, "The Naked Face" which won an Edgar.
  5. Judith McNaught - I am not really into romance novels, but McNaught's "Whitney, My Love" still remains one of my favorites. It has all your typical romantic elements - contrived marriage proposal, rebellious young girl, gentlemen and some S-E-X all set into an historical context. Awesome!
  6. Belva Plain - Thinking of the story of Plain's "Evergreen", still makes my heart squeak. A beautiful Coming to America story. Plain has a way of presenting characters and you really feel as if you know her characters when you are done. Also, an interesting presentation of the Jewish immigrant experience.
  7. Judith Krantz - My very favorite Krantz is "Mistral's Daughter". If you are interested in the modeling/fashion industry, this will be a good read for you as well. I also really enjoyed the "Scruples" trilogy ("Scruples", "Scruples 2" and "Lovers".) Oh, hell - and "Princess Daisy" as well. Why not? Wait. I forgot about "Til We Meet Again". Read that one, too.
  8. Michael Connelly - You need a strong stomach to read Connelly, but if you like to read mystery thrillers and to watch C.S.I, you will be hard-pressed to not enjoy this author. I have primarily read the ones that included his protagonist Harry Bosch, a gruff, yet likeable character.
  9. Cynthia Freeman - "Portraits" is a book that I have read many, many times, but it is the only book by Freeman I have read. The characters really grabbed me, for some reason. It is another Jewish immigrant story and was compelling for me when I was younger. The mother/daughter dynamic really grabbed me.
  10. Jane Green - Green is an uneven author who, for me, writes hit or miss books. However, even the misses are worth reading because she is just plain fun. Also, since I am an Anglophile, she has that whole British element going for her.
  11. Jennifer Weiner - Weiner is one of the few authors who I still buy in hardback and after my freaky fangirl moment with her, I almost feel obligated. Enough said - oh and hey! She has one of those blog thingies as well - A Moment of Jen. It worth reading her astute observations about the book industry, in general and the unevenness of the NYT review section.
  12. Leona Blair - One of my very favorites pieces of Brain Candy is Blair's "Privilege". Period. While it is a typical tale of "rags to riches", I really liked the character of Ema and rooted for her success throughout.
  13. Michael Crichton - Sadly, many of Crichton's books are made into mediocre movies. "Congo"? Great book, silly movie. "Disclosure" was a good read, but a so-so movie. I did not even bother to see "Timeline". Also, some of Crichton's later books were totally "meh", but truly, his earlier stuff is fun, fun, fun to read. Others that I have enjoyed? "Andromeda Strain", "Eaters of the Dead", "Rising Sun", "Prey","Airframe" and "Sphere". Now, I should warn you - you must, I repeat, must read Crichton with heaping bowls of grains of salt. "Jurassic Park" will leave you believing many ridiculous notions which are simply not true. But hey, this is the Brain Candy edition. Tastes yummy, no?

Belva Plain


Melanie said...

Love this list! Sue Grafton books are great, but I also love Janet Evanovich (I laugh so hard sometimes tears are streaming down my face...and who doesn't love a good laugh). Since I like the "cozy" mystery series type books I also am a fan of Jill Churchill, Leslie Meier and Joanne Fluke (whose stories have an added bonus of some real recipes inside and the ones I have tried have been a hit!)

I tell you what bugs me is books on tape/cd......I try to do that on trips where I am driving and its a total letdown, the voice is never anything like the one in my head!

Moderndayhermit said...

I have a Kindle and I LOVE it. But as you mentioned, it does not replace a real book. What I love most about it - I've stopped buying so many books due to being able to purchase samples. Sooooooo, I download samples and when I get to them and read them, then I will purchase.

My past book buying habit is why I have about 160 books on my shelves I've not read yet. YIKES.

meno said...

I love my Kindle in a way that borders on indecent. BUT I STILL BUY "REAL" BOOKS!

Take THAT book industry nay sayers.

alimomof3 said...

Thanks for posting this. Makes my search so much easier for the requested light, easy, fun read for our first summer book club book!

Rozanne said...

I don't think I'd love a Kindle. I don't even like cell phones, although I do love my laptop computer.

It will be interesting to see how publishing evolves in the coming years.

I have recently discovered Beryl Bainbridge's novels, and have been staying up way too late to read them!

P.S. I keep meaning to thank you for being such a loyal commenter on my languishing blog!

Gori Girl said...

Ahem. I just want you to know that you stole about three of my evenings with this post - I went back and read all my trashy fictions. :-P