Friday, July 17, 2009

Junk Food for the Soul

It's not exactly original but the books-as-food metaphor works for me. There are books that are like whole grain health with a side of zucchini to teach and inspire, the books that are poisonous (stuff that rots your brain inside out) and then there are the bubblegum books. They're fun, they're quick and oh how sweet they are.

In fact, they're hardly books at all and really more like hardbound screenplays, with their focus on action and plot over character or strength of language and unity but so help me I love them.

I go in cycles, reading heavy stuff here and there then I'll rebel and go crazy binging on the literary equivalent of Doritos topped with fake neon liquid Velveeta goo and let me tell you I've been on a binge lately (probably because I can read them with only half of my brain, making it conducive to my life of forced multi-tasking that I lead while my children are out of school.)

Anyway, I'm partial to mysteries and thrillers and though I've made my way through most of John Grisham's and Dan Brown's novels I've been reading Harlen Coban lately. He is actually a old college friend of Dan Brown's and starting writing with the first of a series of 8 detective novels (which I haven't touched) but then sneaked in a few stand-alone thrillers that I've gobbled up. Tell No One was the best though No Second Chance wasn't bad either and there are others. Oh yes there are others.

I'm very partial to historical fiction and on someone's recommendation just started Outlander by Diana Galbadon. So far so good (the beginning was a little slow but it has picked up once the time travel thing kicked in) though I'm barely started and it's 630 pages (or something like that). Hardly a quick read--and me only partly into things. As a side note . . . I met Gabaldon at a mystery writer conference several years ago along with Michael Connelly, Anne Perry and a few others that are now starting to surface on the shelves--you'd have to look up Anne Perry on Wikipedia to get the full appreciation of her bizarre life. And I mean bizarre.

Anyway . . . then once I'm finished with this one I have Lauren Willig's Masque of the Black Tulip waiting that was also recommended. A historical fiction mystery that picks up where the Scarlet Pimpernel left off, it promises to be a jolly good read.

And isn't that what summer is about?

28 comments:

Reno said...

So..John Grisham and Harlan Coben books are like Doritos with Velveeta on top? Yummy! Try James Grippando and David Balducci, too. I always only read with half a brain, I guess, cause I can't take the deep stuff. (Well, do scriptures count as deep? If so- I'm good.)

CountessLaurie said...

i LOVED outlander. i would love to hear what you thought of it.

InkMom said...

I just finished Anansi Boys. Neil Gaiman. Very fun.

And I adored Outlander. In fact, I still pick it up every once in a while, and I anxiously await the next number in the series.

Along the same lines as Outlander, if you do indeed decide you like it, is Sara Donati's series "Into the Wilderness". It purports to pick up where James Fennimore Cooper left off (although I didn't like ANY of his when I had to read about Leatherstocking in school) with Hawkeye and Cora Bonner's offspring. A good series, too. But not as good as Gabaldon's.

Anyway. That's all for now!

Randy, Ally, and Wes said...

I met Anne Perry at an AML conference a few years ago where she was the keynote speaker. She gave a wonderful speech, full of really great advice for young writers. . . . when I ran across her Wiki article a few months ago I was rather shocked that it was the same person!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

You know the Black Tulip is actually part of the Pink Carnation series, right? And that Outlander has about half a dozen sequels as well?

That's my newest hobby--reading a book and then discovering that it's actually part of a series (and often NOT the first one). The good news: I have a bunch more books to read that I'll probably like. The bad news: I have to go "back" in storytime and catch up on what I'd already missed.

perilloparodies said...

OH!!! The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all time favorites!! I had no idea of the sequel... one of these days I WILL get my hands on it. MUST. READ. SEQUEL. (sounding like weird robot...) :-)

MiaKatia said...

I clicked on the Wiki link. Interesting stuff. Loved the Outlander series. I love historical fiction too, so I will be checking out this light read.

Karen Olson said...

Love Harlan Coben's books. And he's a really nice guy, too, to boot!

I just discovered a wonderful mystery series by Louise Penny, set in a small village in Quebec. Beautiful writing, really interesting plots and I can't figure out whodunnit. I really recommend her.

I've got Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep and Bryan Gruley's Starvation Lake socked away for vacation in two weeks.

Melissa B. said...

I just finished a pretty good Junk Food Novel. Gossip of the Starlings, by Nina de Gramont. Totally predictable, but enjoyable. A good summer read!

TJ said...

i read this one too. it's ok. my recent junk food for my soul/brain was "my life in france" by julia child. starting on julie and julia. or whatever it's called. so far, so good.

CountessLaurie said...

can you join goodreads and let me be your friend?

Wild Squirrel said...

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I don't feel so guilty reading for pleasure when I am getting a dose of history, too. This summer, however, I've read several books my 8 yr old asked me to read with her. Somehow, I'm the only one finishing the books! It's been fun, light reading though. Thanks for the tips on some authors I hadn't yet read.

Jolanthe said...

Ok...her life really IS weird. Weird. Weird.

Chele said...

I bet I would love the one you reading next! Great book ideas thanks! :)

Patricia Linehan said...

Have you read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan? It weaves fiction and non-fiction.

I'm like you.. I like to alternate my substance books with my fluff...sometimes you just want to read without thinking very hard.

Lori said...

I'm having my Cool Ranch Doritos right now with Immortal by Traci Slatton. It's a bit heavy in the philosophical soul/God talk but the historical fiction setting of Italy in the Renaissance is really interesting.

Next I've got Morrison and then one my brother got me: Pride and Pejudice and Zombies. Can you guess what category that one's in?

Reno said...

Commenting again:
If you like learning a bit of history as well as being entertained try reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
The title would have put me off but it is a really good read.

Janet said...

I discovered Anne Perry about 15 years ago. I LOVE her books. I loved Outlander too.

The LIbrary Lady said...

I LOVE Outlander--the whole series. Donati's "Wilderness" is derivative of Gabaldon--something she freely admits, and though I've read the rest of the books, I think she lost her punch after the first. The same with the "Pink Carnation"--the first book was okay, but she keeps churning out sequel after sequel.

Oh, and I know that I'm supposed to adore "Gurnsey", but I found it terribly cutesey. The real history of the Channel Islands is much more compelling...

My own favorite "junk food" novels are Jenny Crusie's romances--try "Welcome to Temptation" and I bet you'll find yourself hooked!

Terresa said...

I love love love Gabaldon. Just started reading her stuff last fall. Watch out for her Outlander series, though, I think there are 8 books in that series, each one with close to 700-900 pages. Enjoy her writings, she has a range & depth in writing style that is breathtaking to me.

I'm on book #4 of hers, but taking a break.

My current book is "Water for elephants" by Gruen and it is tasty.

Anonymous said...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett!!!

Mandy said...

I've read Outlander, a matter of fact, it was just this year! Just a warning though...it gets a little graphic! Definitely rated R. However, saying that I liked the story between the two main characters.

Jeana said...

I guess I'm the only dissenter on Outlander. I was expecting historical fiction and it seemed more like a really long Harlequin to me.

Have you ever read Time Traveler's Wife? LOVE IT.

Daisy said...

I make a point of keeping Junk Food Reading around. When I'm teaching, I need light reading to help keep me balanced and allow me to sleep at night!

illahee said...

i wish i had some 'new' books to read. i have to read the same things over and over. good thing they're good books!

Mercy's Maid said...

I hope you'll update us with your thoughts on Outlander. I just finished reading it for my book club and I liked it enough to start the next book in the series. I'm told that the second book is kind of slow, but pivotal to the rest of the series, so I'm going to try to slog through.

Scribbit said...

Well I didn't want to say much because I know this book is hugely popular but I didn't care for it.

SPOILER ALERT
I really wanted a resolution to everything, wanted her to go back to her husband to see what had happened to him (I'd kind of thought she'd live her life with Jamie and then go back when he died) but not so.

I also thought that while the romance was fun it got to be too much--just lots of sex and descriptions of how rough they liked it which seemed a bit over-the-top to me. Made it cross teh line from a historical fiction into Harlequin Romance which cheapens and dilutes the writing.

BUT . . . as I said I know a lot of people loved it so what do I know? I looked up the sequels on the internet just to see what happens to them and it doesn't sound nearly as interesting as the first book anyway, I'd heard that the rest of the series wasn't nearly as good as the first and became pretty slogging.

Leisa Hammett said...

Hi there. Loved the writing in this post, especially the lead. Reminds me of the post you wrote awhile back reviewing movie rentals. I'm just back from 9 days in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia and sitting down here w/ grocery store sushi to read what's up w/ you, expecting you to be at BlogHer. Last night, a crew of us mostly mommy bloggers (though I am not of the mommy genre per se) gathered here in Nashville for a little Margarit-Her. I bragged on your Alaska camping post and recommended it to someone who's fixin' (as we say in the South) to go camping. And then your ebook to some others, which brought up discussion of your blog and its success. I keep recommending it to others. And, yeah, LOVE Pandora Radio! Cheers.