Give yourself a brain break!

It’s midsummer. It’s hot. Those of us who are going to work everyday are insanely jealous of those (read: KIDS) who are off for the summer, while kids are getting bored (what is wrong with them?!) Stay-at-home parents and other caregivers are on activity-overload, and we all need an otter pop, air conditioning, and some Netflix to binge. Our brains, they need a rest. This is the moment for the midsummer lull, where we all take a mental health day (let’s stagger those days so we don’t bring the world to a screeching halt, please) and enjoy something easy to watch or read. Here are ten of our very favorites to give our busy minds a break.

Heartland: Watch this and dream of being in the mountains. So Canadian, and so many seasons

Nashville: Or, as we like to call it around the outreach office, Trashville. Who can resist the soapy drama of a country music queen and the troubled ingenue nipping at her heels. It’s crazy and cliff-hanging, and we love it. Also, the music in the early seasons was great, overseen by two legends, T. Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller

content.chilifreshDebbie Macomber books: They’re like Hallmark movies in book form. You know exactly what you’re going to get and Macomber delivers every time with just enough variation to keep you excited about the next one.

Magazines on Zinio: When my brain needs a break, it’s home and lifestyle magazines for me. I’ve got a friend who rests her frontal lobe with celebrity gossip rags. More than one sports fan in my social sphere will happily waste an hour with ESPN the mag. If you love to escape with magazines, but hate the cost and clutter, we’ve got a deal for you. Try Zinio–magazines delivered straight to your computer, phone or tablet courtesy of your local library. You’re welcome.

Jane the Virgin: It’s a ridiculous premise, and it knows it. A young woman who has committed herself to premarital celibacy is accidentally and artificially inseminated by a wealthy, rakish heir to a hotel fortune. Hijinks ensue. It sounds trashy, and it kind of is, but it’s also got the biggest heart of any show on tv.

The Avengers: I know, for some of you there is nothing fluffy about superheroes, and I say, you go! But for many of us, Marvel and DC and such are pure flights of fancy, a great way to escape the pressures of everyday life. It’s generally non-stop action (see the last two-thirds of everything from Captain America to Man of Steel to Ant-man) and exaggerated sets, dialogue, and special effects, cinematic popcorn–mostly air but delicious nonetheless.

content.chilifreshAnything by Jared and/or Jerusha Hess. It’s our own homegrown silly cinema–quirky and dorky with just the right amount of nostalgia and real emotion. Who doesn’t love Napoleon and Pedro, or Nacho and Esqueleto, or the ridiculous number of taxidermied peacocks that adorn the set of Jerusha’s adaptation of Austenland. Just thinking about it makes me giggle. And squirm.

Harry Potter: Ok, how many of you Harry Potter fans return to the series on an annual or bi-annual basis? I don’t think you’re alone. One fairly universal strategy for a brain break is to revisit a favorite, and we have two decades of readers whose favorite book stars the boy who lived. Go for it, friends. You re-read that beloved series. I’ll just be over here with my well-loved copy of Anne of Green Gables.

content.chilifreshSpace fiction: Especially alien artifact fiction where you never actually see the aliens, you just see what they left behind. 2001: a space odyssey, Sleeping Giants, anything that will get you as far away from earth as possible. It’s adventurous, it’s mysterious, it’s an unmistakable escape.

Wes Anderson: Silly, whimsical eye candy on celluloid. It’s just great to look at. Start with Fantastic Mr. Fox and move your way up to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

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