Brain Candy

I do love myself a little brain candy.  “Brain candy” is something enjoyable that doesn’t require much thought, effort or mental exertion.  It’s candy for the brain!

Everyone likes a little brain candy every now and then, right?  I mean, if we were to always read heavy, intellectual books, or always watch dark and challenging films and always have deep, harrowing conversations would we feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  It certainly never hurts to push the limits of our understanding and expand our education, but sometimes a girl just wants to relax a little and giggle.  While some like to get their brain candy by watching TV, romantic comedies or reading fashion magazines, I like to get mine by reading book series like the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450hI love these books because, as an unnamed reviewer from the Daily Mail apparently wrote (according to the dustcover) “Tolerance and humanity underpin the whole of this wonderful, hilarious, totally addictive series.”  Well said, Daily Mail reviewer!  There is just enough tension to keep you hooked on the stories, and McCall Smith’s simple, straightforward prose catches you in its rhythm.  As you read of Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi’s adventures, you can almost see the Botswana landscape and feel the hot African sun on your shoulders.

McCall Smith, a Scottish medical law professor, was born in what is now Zimbabwe and spent several years teaching law at the University of Botswana in Gaborone.  That must have been when his love affair with Botswana began; you can sense his love and respect for this peaceful southern African nation all throughout his series.  Never having been to Botswana myself, I cannot attest for how accurate his portrayal of local life and culture is, and he could very well be writing about an idealized place that exists only in his imagination.

Be that the case or not, I still love these books.  They’re hilarious!  And they don’t just paint a rosy picture of warm and fuzzy humanity.  These are, after all, detective stories involving theft, violence, jealousy and other examples of the evil of which we human beings are capable.  And they’re not always tied up in a neat little bow at the end.  There is always an acknowledgement that sometimes there is nothing we can do about some ignorance, irrational hatred, or close-mindedness.  Mma Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni show us that all we can do is our very best to love, understand, respect, forgive and listen.

I choose to enjoy this kind of brain candy, because it is candy with some substance.  It’s like a chocolate covered strawberry: there’s the sweet of the chocolate as well as the vitamins and healthy properties of the fruit!  And, to quote St. Paul “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”


The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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