If you’ve ever gone to a fancy schmancy restaurant and eaten a multi-course meal, you’ve likely experienced the palate cleanser. This is a few bites of something designed to remove flavor from a previous dish so that you can accurately taste the next dish. Sorbet is frequently used as a palate cleanser.
But what does this have to do with books, you ask? Sometimes you need a palate cleansing book, too.
If, like me, you’re a reader of many genres, you may already relate to this concept. There are times when you read something so serious or heartbreaking that you have to follow it up with absolute fluff. Your psyche can only handle so much. For instance, I am currently reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coats, and The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. These are all excellent, mind expanding books. But I am already searching for the perfect romance or chic lit novel to follow these hefty titles.
Sometimes reading is about challenging yourself, about learning, about finding the beauty and humanity in a character that is nothing like you. But reading is also about feeling good and escaping from reality. I frequently follow heavy reads (or strings of heavy reads) with reads at the opposite end of the book spectrum. This is why I’m not ashamed to indulge in romance novels: they serve an important role for me. Without the palate cleanser, I’d have to take a break from books after any particularly challenging read. And who wants to take a break from books?
All of the books I read have their own unique purpose. What’s your palate cleanser?