Look, sometimes you just need a drink. Sometimes all your favorite real-life drinking buddies are all busy or lame or whatever, and that’s when you need both a drink and a good, debaucherous book to fill the space where your usual drinking buddies would be.
Luckily for you (and me, as soon as I finish this boozy article), lots of brilliant authors were also brilliant drinkers — the kind of folk you’d love to raise a glass with. And even more happily, lots of them actually wrote books in which brilliant drinking feature prominently. These are the kinds of books that you’ve just got to accompany with a glass of something intoxicating to fully appreciate them. Or rather, you won’t be able to help it. A few pages in and you’ll start wondering why you’re suddenly dying for a tall glass of bourbon.
Who ever said that reading was solely the territory of tea and cozy socks? Writing has certainly had its fair share of debauchery. So, go ahead, get debaucherous with these boozy books.
1. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
You know those days when you just want to binge-everything? Binge-eat, binge-drink, binge-laugh, binge-curse, binge-be-the-disgusting-human-that-you-are? Well, this is the book for that. About two giants who basically DGAF, this is a book filled with grotesque humor and lots of drinking and eating and pranking. It’s perfect for those days when you’ve just gotta go all in.
2. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I mean… you can’t have a list of books about drinking without mentioning everybody’s favorite drunken boxing manly man. In A Moveable Feast , Hemingway makes for a great boozy tour guide. A charming portrait of his impoverished life in France, A Moveable Feast is the drinking buddy you never knew you needed.
3. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker is the drinking buddy of all drinking buddies. She only gets wittier with each pour, and her stories will have you in sheer awe of her incredible wit and brilliance.
4. The Diary of Anaïs Nin by Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin partied hard in Paris and New York, and her diaries are basically a chronicle of her time spent hobnobbing, drinking, and being wildly brilliant. This is the book to read when all your own favorite literary drinking buddies aren’t around. Nin makes for a great stand-in.
5. The Moonshine War by Elmore Leonard
It’s a novel about one expensive cask of Kentucky bourbon… enough said.
6. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Davis
You can’t read a book about the blues without a glass of whiskey close at hand. Throw in the fact that this particular blues book is about the badass women of the blues, like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith (who could hold their drink too), and you’ll be wanting to raise a glass to their awesomeness as pioneering feminists on every single page.
7. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
Grab a bottle of mezcal and embark on a youthful, boozy, passionate adventure. Here, just whet your whistle on this little sample:
“Drink up, boys, drink up and don’t worry, if we finish this bottle we’ll go down and buy another one. Of course, it won’t be the same as the one we’ve got now, but it’ll still be better than nothing. Ah, what a shame they don’t make Los Suicidas mezcal anymore, what a shame that time pases, don’t you think? what a shame that we die, and get old, and everything good goes galloping away from us.”
8. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
Just look at that book cover. It’s about the Lost generation, so you know there’s plenty of drinking. The lead character is a desperate woman who drinks like it’s her job and offers up cutting realities of the nature of humanity and the world. This book will have you craving a glass of gin on one page and crying into your beer the next. Depends on your mood, I guess.
9. The Joy of Drinking by Barbara Holland
It's a world tour of the history of booze from the first moment that man discovered the beauty of fermentation. If you're not drinking while you read this gem, you're missing the point.