Drink and book pairings for the winter ahead

Booktoberfest 2016, our month-long celebration of books and booze, has come to an end but fret not – the rest of winter is a great time to continue this thematic exploration on your own. To that end, here are some suggestions for book and drink pairings, initially presented by librarians Andrea Gough and David Wright as part of LitCrawl at Capitol Cider on Oct. 27. You can find the full list of titles mentioned here.


Are you a cider drinker? Try Camille Perri’s sweet yet slightly acidic novel The Assistants, about a group of poorly paid New York secretaries who find an innovative way to pay off their student loans. Or perhaps you’d like a witty novel about economic collapse and family road trips, in which case The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang is for you.

Drinkers who enjoy the bracing British astringency of gin may also enjoy the grown up refined literary complexities of Henry Green’s Loving, a brilliantly oblique tale of life below stairs in an Irish mansion during World War Two, or other novels by this brilliantly self-effacing writer’s writer, ripe for yet another rediscovery. If sweet, fruity blended drinks are more to your taste, check out Lydia Millet’s Mermaids in Paradise, a deceptively frothy rom-com concoction that swiftly develops into a heady blend of fantasy, satire and thriller.

If dark beer such as porters and stouts are your thing – complex flavors and a smooth finish – try The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, a true story of a terrible cholera outbreak in London and the birth of epidemiology; feel good drinking beer instead of water. Or pick up The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins for a dark, brooding fantasy/horror novel about a group of unconventional librarians fighting for absolute power, which also features some memorable BBQ scenes.


If vodka is your go-to liquor, drink deep of the smooth deadpan subtleties of Death and the Penguin, a post-Soviet fable by Ukrainian writer Andrei Kurkov that gradually and imperceptibly deadens your resistance to the head-spinning absurdities of contemporary Russia. Peter Pomerantsev’s cultural exposé Nothing is True and Everything is Possible reveals just how little Kurkov’s Kafka-esque tale strays from the truth of the glittering illogic of contemporary Russia.

For you bourbon drinkers we go to the heart of Kentucky horse land in The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, as the lives and pasts of a father, daughter, and stable hand intertwine and clash in the orbit of filly Hellsmouth. On a different tack, sip some warming bourbon while reading about the frozen disaster that was the U.S.S. Jeannette’s Arctic expedition, in Hampton Sides’ In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette.

Oenophiles will savor the heady mixture of wine lore that fills the pages of Maximillian Potter’s intriguing Shadows in the Vineyard: the true story of a plot to poison the world’s greatest wine. Or if you agree with Kingsley Amis that the best drink is “anything with alcohol in it,” you may enjoy his classic academic farce Lucky Jim, containing both perhapjim460s the best drunk scene and best hangover description ever. Amis named his signature drink after the novel: 1 part vermouth, 2 parts cucumber juice, and 12 – 15 parts vodka.

We mentioned a few other books during the event, and you can check out the full list here. Don’t see your favorite drink represented, or want a more personalized list? Fill out a Your Next 5 Books request, including your favorite drink and a book or two you’ve enjoyed, and a librarian will suggest some books for pairing. Happy Reading!

~ posted by Andrea G.

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