Books for a Busy Brain

Busy Books

It’s no secret that my mind is being pulled in a million directions lately, so getting myself focused enough to read is tough. I feel like I’ve done a bit of a disservice to some of the books I’ve been reading, in maybe not giving them my full attention, but choosing not to read doesn’t go over so well either. I’ve definitely consumed more comfort TV recently, but I always get the itch for a book. Looking back, some of these could have helped push through the busy brain and make my reading a bit more enjoyable.

Short and Funny

Short stories in general have been a bit of a godsend for me lately, but I think the quick, funny bursts of Simon Rich’s Spoiled Brats would have been exactly what I needed. The same goes for George Saunders’s Tenth of December.

A Book in Verse

Maybe it’s the rhythm, but there’s something about stories in verse that makes them easy to fall into. Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is brilliant and a pretty perfect means of escape.

The Comfortable Favorite

I honestly can’t believe I haven’t opened up Tiny Beautiful Things or When Women Were Birds over the past several weeks. This is probably where I went wrong—I didn’t have my favorites to back me up.

A Pageturner

A book that totally grabs you and doesn’t let go. That rare gem. They can be so hard to find, depending on your tastes, but Justin Cronin’s The Passage totally did it for me.

Shifting the Focus

I’ve had some trouble with nonfiction recently but, strangely enough, devoured $2.00 a Day in just a few hours. I think some shorter, more narrative nonfiction, like Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, can be just enough to shift your focus.

What are your favorite books for a busy brain?


  • Shannon, these are great suggestions for me since Readathon is coming up this weekend; I’ve yet to work on a “plan,” so I may be flying by the seat of my pants – ha! I’m going to be a cheerleader this time around, and I’m looking forward to that; hope things are going well and I know you’re going to do great on the GRE!

  • I needed this post, so thank you! My brain runs in overdrive lately and just when I need reading the most, it evades me. These suggestions are perfect for those times. Good luck on your upcoming GRE. I’m sure you’ll slay it.

  • I love that you get the whole “NOT reading isn’t an option, either” thing. :) Thanks for these suggestions!

  • I think I’d do best with short stories and page-turners. When I’m having trouble focusing on reading, it’s often a good time to catch up on some movies I’ve been wanting to watch – not such a bad thing!
    Good luck on your GRE!

  • My focus has been a bit off lately too…I haven’t stopped reading either, but I find myself reaching for books I know I will like, but suspect I won’t LOVE — and I’ve been right — I’ve been reading — not all, but a lot of 3-star books (good, but not fabulous) — I think I’m afraid I will miss out on the experience of a really excellent read if I don’t give it my full attention. A very odd feeling for an avid reader!

  • Love this post! I agree that what you have going on in your life and the amount and quality of available space left over in your brain for reading can absolutely impact your opinions of books you might otherwise have enjoyed. Mood makes such a difference!

  • Amanda

    I love that there are so many of us that just have to read – tv won’t cut it. This is when I turn to fluff or humor or total fantasy. While waiting for my dad to get out of surgery/ICU I read The Royal We and then maybe 5 fantasies? Something like Augusten Burroughs would work for me. Or honestly, good old Nora Roberts :)

    • I totally need something fluffy – need to do some searching. I wish I had another Royal We to turn to ;)

      • Amanda

        Crazy Rich Asians?

  • I don’t books in verse or short stories very often, but the other solutions you mention all work for me. Things that are short or fast-paced can be easy reads even when I’m tired and swapping between fiction and nonfiction can really help get me out of a slump :)