5 Books to Cleanse Your Palate

collageHave you just finished a book that left you feeling wiped out? Was it marathon-length? Heartbreaking? Heavy on advice? As deep and dense as the Bavarian forest? Or just plain terrifying? Well, then: here are some antidotes to your condition. Consider these reads palate cleansers: they’ll get you back off your feet and into a reading nook in no time.

The War and Peace Cure: If you’ve recently sprained your brain reading something reaaaalllllllly loooong, you need something short and sweet to doctor you up, the same way someone who has consumed a 15-inch submarine sandwich needs an Altoid. Might I recommend Love Poems, by Pablo Neruda? The beauties within are sexy and succinct, and you won’t throw out your back hauling the book around (though you may be inspired to do so another way).

The Cujo Cure: My father read Cujo when I was a kid, and afterward he refused to get the morning paper before the sun was fully up for about seven years. Don’t let horror have the upper hand. Wash away your memories of rabid dogs and torn jugulars with some laugh-out-loud levity. Carl Hiaasen is your go-to author for tear-streaming hysterics and fast-paced plots that will have you forgetting about your impending death by dog (or murderer or ghost or zombie or vampire or super virus) in no time. Start with his hilarious Double Whammy.

The Sophie’s Choice Cure: I’ll be straight with you. I’ve never read this book. Just hearing an overview of it sends me to bed for a week. With that said, if you’ve just finished a soul-jolting tearjerker, you need something super-duper uplifting, like The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, by the Dalai Lama. Take some inspiration from a man who has seen the worst of humanity, but somehow still keeps smiling.

The Shakespeare Cure: I know, I know: Bill’s the best. Really. He’s a genius. But whenever I try to read him, my brain short-circuits like a toaster thrown into one of his sylvan ponds. I mean, I can read big, fancy words and deep plots and profound symbolism, I just look like a panting dog in August while I’m doing it. The answer to Shakespeare or The Canterbury Tales or an IKEA manual or anything tedious is Deep Thoughts: Inspiration for the Uninspired, by Jack Handey. This little book of not-so-deep ponderings should be prescribed alongside the Taming of the Shrew in the same way the French pair shots with a heavy meals. Think of it as a mental digestif.

The Lean In Cure: There are lots of books out there with lots of well-meaning advice, but sometimes the amount of literature written on what we should and shouldn’t be doing can get wayyyyy overwhelming. My solution to this sort of genre aftermath is to read cookbooks. It’s the literary version of comfort food, and my current favorite is Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories From a New Southern Kitchen, by Edward Lee. This is not just a cookbook, it’s a memoir, a love story, a culinary tour de force that will have you thinking less about the glass ceiling and more about a glass of bourbon. And barbecue. And bacon.

What are some of your favorite ways to renew your reading mind?

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