Everyone needs a good mind-dumber from time to time, right? I don't care if you're the biggest literary snob in the world, dedicating to a book about the same level of concentration required to understand an episode of Jersey Shore is almost always relaxing (therapeutic, even) and fun.
I mix in the occasional genre fiction novel for two reasons: These books are fun in the same way as the silly summer blockbuster movies: They really are just, pure mindless entertainment. I love contemporary literary fiction, and it'll always be my favorite "genre," but once in awhile, I just need to flip the "off" switch on my bean and grab a crime thriller or tale of political intrigue. I wouldn't even call them "guilty pleasures," because I don't feel the least bit guilty about devouring them, putting them on my shelf, and not remembering a damn thing about them the next day.
The second reason is that the signature bad dialogue and preposterous plot twists make them almost as funny as the funniest funny novels. I mean, how do you not laugh at a line like this: Character A hits on attractive female Character B and totally out of the blue, unleashes: "I want to get naked with you." So even if the plot isn't keeping you riveted, there is still plenty of entertainment to be derived.
Lately, I've been in the market for a new genre series to get me through the busy spring travel season. I settled on Vince Flynn's series of thrillers starring CIA agent extraordinaire Mitch Rapp, and plowed through most of the first one in the series, Transfer of Power, on planes to and from New Orleans this week. So far, the book definitely fits the bill — the above dialogue example is pulled directly from Flynn. Thankfully, there are nine more books in the series after this one!
Other than this first Flynn book, I've also enjoyed genre fiction from writers like Greg Iles, Nelson DeMille, Raymond Khoury, Tom Clancy and Daniel Silva.
So who is on your beach-read list? Which writers have you picked up in an airport bookstore and really enjoyed? Why do you enjoy the occasional genre book as well?