There's nothing better than a warm drink and a good book. And as we're rounding out February, winter is basically begging us to stay inside, make a hot steaming mug of something, and read our brains out. If you're like me, when cold rains beat against the window, all you want to be warm and entertained. They might as well call this part of the year "reading season." (Although, let's be real, every season is reading season.)
Like pairing wine with cheese, picking a book to go with your drink (or vice versa) can be a fine art. Some books are just made to go with certain beverages. Some books require something sweet and savory, others yearn for something with a bit of a kick. Even the difference between black tea and green tea can greatly change the way you interact with a book. As someone who has spent far too much of her time curled in armchairs and camped out in coffee shops, I've become an expert at picking the perfect drink for my reading material.
Whether you like a rich coffee or a creamy hot chocolate, these drinks go hand-in-hand with their literary counterparts. So ready your electric kettle and your reading glasses, it's time to get comfy.
1. Hot Chocolate: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Not only do I love a good play on words, but when you're drinking hot chocolate you want a story that you can fall into, and that's exactly what this book is. Set in Mexico, this bittersweet love story is a tangled web that will make your heart beat hard.
2. Black Coffee: City of Glass by Paul Auster
This existentialist detective story will grab you from the first page, and you'll probably be up all night reading. Beginning with a mysterious person calling for Paul Auster himself, this spirals into a dark gumshoe mystery full of twists, turns, and introspections into identity.
3. Espresso: Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams
Short, short stories for a tiny drink. Like your espresso, these masterfully crafted flash fiction stories pack a lot of punch in a small package. With 40 stories in just 131 pages, you can take these in short bursts or fly all the way through. For a taste, try out "To Revive a Person Is No Slight Thing."
4. English Breakfast Tea: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Now this is the stuff. I drink so much English Breakfast tea that I had a huge list of potential British books for this one (P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, among others). But even though Elena Ferrante is Italian, her Neapolitan series is the perfect read with your cuppa. Described by John Freeman as "if Jane Austen got angry," this story of two girls growing up in turbulent Naples is bursting with vivid characters, intrigue, and deep thought. Trust me, you'll be transfixed.
5. Chai Tea: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
As you soak in the spices of your favorite chai, take an expedition to the Amazon with this immersive novel. Dr. Marina Singh embarks on a journey to find her missing former mentor, and must give in to the dark secrets layered in the jungle around her.
6. Chamomile Tea: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
These beautifully-written short stories are the perfect way to wind down. Blooming with imagination, each story will paint a new world for you to sink into. With keys and locks threaded throughout the book, this is a read that will open doors inside of yourself you didn't know existed.
7. Hot Apple Cider: Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights
This book will certainly put a fire in your belly. Filled with calls to Arabian Nights, aka One Thousand and One Nights, (two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights adds up to 1,001 nights), this is the story of the peculiar instances that begin to crop up after a massive hits Manhattan and breaks through the layers of the universe. Brimming with djinni and storytelling, every part of your imagination will be tickled.
8. Something Alcoholic: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
The Queen of the Night will warm your winter evening all on its own. Really, the best drink to go with this book is a sparkling, gold-rimmed glass of champagne, but if it's frigid outside it will also go quite nicely with a hot toddy or some spiked cocoa. In this page-turner, a 19th century opera legend reveals her secret past as she tries to discover who has betrayed her.