My Favorite Medium Trashy Books

November 19, 2018 | |

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My Favorite Medium Trashy BooksI’ve always been a big reader. As much as I love TV, and I love it a lot, a good book will always be my favorite form of entertainment. (FYI, fellow anxious peeps, reading is great for managing anxiety!!) I enjoy the occasional literary classic or purely education tome, sure, but in general, I prefer to indulge my escapist tendencies with books from the “medium trashy” genre.

What is “medium trashy,” you ask? Honestly, it’s a rather loose descriptor that can be applied to everything from autobiographies and thrillers to top tier chick lit, but books in this category tend to be mindlessly entertaining stories that are still smart/well-written. Elevated beach reads if you will.

I have so many beloved medium trashy books, but the following list is a smattering of my all-time favorites in a variety of categories (comedy! romance! thrillers! short stories!). I’m hoping they provide fellow medium-brow readers with many happy hours of distraction/mental vacation.

Happy page-turning, friends!

My Favorite Medium-Trashy Books

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. This beautifully written story follows the lives of an unlikely group of friends who meet at summer camp in the seventies as their personal talents, financial situations, and happiness grow and change. It’s basically an exploration of friendship, and it really tugs at your heart strings.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. You’ll cackle! You’ll cry! You’ll want to go to Singapore! If you have yet to experience the Crazy Rich Asian Magic, DO IT. And if you saw the movie, you should still read the book. (We all know that when a book is made into a movie, the book is always better.) The best part? It’s a TRILOGY. Bless Kevin Kwan.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. If you dig a good period piece, this depression-era novel is about to become your new favorite. The story of a sassy working-class heroine who stumbles into the glamorous world of Manhattan’s elite (I’ve clearly watched too much Gossip Girl) is a sharp critique of the times, sure, but it’s also just great entertainment. (Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow is also at the top of my current reading list.)

Jemima J by Jane Green. I’ve always preferred my chick lit British, and this old school Jane Green really hits the spot. (Read it for the first time in high school, still love it.) It’s a cliché story—ugly duckling turns swan and realizes that being beautiful doesn’t make you happy, blah blah—but with particularly engaging characters and a few good, albeit somewhat predictable, twists.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Ruth Ware never fails to deliver a twisty, page-turning mystery. It’s also worth noting that this book has an almost exclusively female cast of characters. Looooove me a lady villain.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Not gonna lie, this psychological thriller gets off to a very slow start, but I need you to trust me and stick it out. I almost dropped the book in the bath when the first twist hit. And then they just KEPT ON COMING.

President is Missing by James Patterson with Bill Clinton. My roommate and I both read this on our honeymoon. Not gonna lie, it was my first James Patterson book, and now I understand why he’s the Beyonce of medium trashy thrillers. As Logan so eloquently described this page-turner: Heaty. As. Fuck.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Ummmm Elizabeth Holmes is batshit crazy, and the full story about what went down behind the scenes at Theranos (the infamous Silicon Valley blood-testing startup) blew my mind. The book itself kind of reads like an extended US Weekly article but in the best possible way. Get on this one ASAP.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. Okay, so this memoir about Susannah Cahalan’s descent into madness triggered by a rare medical condition (that nearly went undiagnosed!) is not remotely trashy. But it’s such a riveting quick read, that I’m choosing to include it anyway for the die-hard nonfiction fans.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. An oldie but a goodie for lovers of extremely dry wit and biting social commentary. I reread it every couple of years because I genuinely believe David is my spirit animal.

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. In college I would read Chelsea Handler’s early books out loud to my mom and brother on vacation, and this one was our favorite. (Followed closely by My Horizontal Life.) Even if you’re not a fan of Chelsea on camera, you may still enjoy these ridiculous short stories from her youth. Fun for all ages!

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. I’ve read most of the autobiographical projects by popular funny women—Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Busy Phillips, etc.—but I found this one by Amy Poehler to be particularly good. It’s equal parts entertaining, relatable, and inspiring. (And I’m not just saying that because Amy has bad anxiety…)

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  1. Mary on February 23, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    I literally googled “what do you call a book that is trashy but entertaining” and this site popped up. I am pretty picky if something is not realistic (50 Shades of Gray~Yuck). So I have ditched many a book 60 pages in. Right now I am reading “On Fifth Avenue” by Candace Bushnell and I did almost put it down but within a few more pages the characters and probably twists got me hooked. Even though it can be fantastically unbelievable, it is still fun…. so far! Thanks for teaching me about “Medium Trashy”!

  2. Jaq on September 1, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    Hey! I dont know if you’ve read it, but “The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo”, by Taylor Jenkins Reid has had me reeeeally hooked up for about five days now, and by your recommendations it looks like the kind of book you would enjoy :))

  3. Susan Stone on July 8, 2020 at 6:04 am

    Many years ago I pretty much quit reading fiction (my only exception is the Jan Karon books about Mitford). When you can get good non-fiction, it can read as easily as fiction, without the suspense factor. I don’t deal well with suspense, hence the no longer reading fiction. Reading is a great pastime. Always will be, as long as the old eyes work.

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