Mary's Minute: Brain Candy vs Book Crack

During the month of April, I didn't get a lot of reading done because I was so busy working on the YA festival my library hosts. After the festival, my brain felt like this

and I didn't feel like reading anything too serious. I needed brain candy, and I binge-listened the entire Beautiful series by Christina Lauren (except Beautiful Bastard because meh) and also their Wild Seasons series. We're allowed to listen to audiobooks at work, as long as we use headphones, so naturally, my phone conspired against me, and on three separate occasions started playing the audiobooks while my headphones weren't in, each time during a slightly sexy but not super racy scene. My coworkers all made fun of me, and I defended myself saying I needed some brain candy after working so hard.

My boss understood this concept, but one coworker, a tech guy who doesn't understand reading for pleasure, wouldn't let it go. "BRAIN CANDY?" he'd ask incredulously with a touch of derision. "What is BRAIN CANDY??"

This is brain candy, but not what I'm talking about.

Brain candy is a term I use to refer to books (can also be applied to other forms of entertainment ie movies, tv, music, etc) that are fun, fluffy, and feel-good. They might touch on serious issues, but are *mostly* lighter in content and easy to consume (ie you can read a whole bunch right in a row). They're delicious and slightly addictive, but if you read too many in a row, you'll be sick of them for a while.

Books that I consider brain candy are, of course, Christina Lauren, Kit Rocha's Beyond series (post-apocalyptic erotica—NOT ya at all!), Simon Pulse's romantic comedies series from the mid 00's, Kasie West, Jennifer Echols, Jennifer E. Smith, usually any book that features sports, not unrelated to the sports: any book in my Kindle that has abs on the cover, etc. There's a lot of romance in my brain candy collection, but that's not everybody's definition.

Now for brain crack. Brain crack books are the ones that are highly addictive, and honestly, not the best for you, whether they're poorly written, full of weird ideas, or you hate the author but can't give up the books (that's the addiction at work).

Often there's some amount of self-loathing that occurs when you inevitably read a crack book or binge a series. One series I consider brain crack (and I know lots of readers agree with me on this one) is The Selection series. Kiera Cass is lovely, but you can't deny those books aren't the best things around. I honestly don't care. I own every single one and have multiple copies of a couple of them. Why? Because they're fun to read, and I can't say no.

Abbi Glines's books are book crack to me. I actually hate several of them, and I think they're full of damaging concepts, cardboard cutout characters, and weak repeat plots. But again. I own most of them. I read them with as much gusto as I have when I wash my hair (wash rinse repeat those plots!), but I still read them. I own most in Kindle format, but when Abbi came to Dallas a couple years ago, yeah, I bought some of the titles in paperback because I am weak.

I'm going to touch on this one in a future Mary's Minute post, but I know some people consider Cassie Clare to be book crack. For some it may be vampire books or those free books on Amazon or whatever. We've all got those books that have their hooks in us, and we just can't give them up, no matter how much we'd like to.

I'm not trying to diss any author or book in this post. I've just had this conversation with a lot of friends. We discuss candy books and crack books, and I wondered if other readers experienced this as well. Let me know your thoughts and any picks you have for brain candy or book crack in the comments!


  1. I know what you are saying about brain candy. Sometimes after reading an intense book or just after having a bad week, I have to pick up a light, fluffy book to bring my mood up. Normally, brain candy books are romances for me, which I do not think is a bad thing. I totally agree that The Selection series is brain candy, even though a lot of people would disagree. To me, they are more of a romance than a dystopian/futuristic novel. They do not really focus on any big issues since the politics are pushed to the side in favor of all the romantic angst.
    Personally, I am a complete sucker for all of the free Amazon ebooks. I have trouble saying no to a good deal, especially when the blurb or the cover catches my eye.

  2. Finally catching up on posts from when I was on vacation, and this is GREAT. I love your choice of GIFs too hahaha. I totally agree that candy and crack are totally different. For me, brain candy is the super fluffy feel-good YA contemps. The Selection is definitely book crack.

  3. I loved this fun post! Brain candy to me is also the lighter YA contemporary stuff. I've found the cozy mysteries that I've found free on Amazon to be not the best written, but addictive because they're easy to read and readily available on my kindle.