With the holidays past us and winter still stretching out before us, we’re all feeling the S.A.D. crush of the cold. What to do? Throw a book party! And no, I don’t mean the kind where tweedy literary types discuss Faulkner, sip cheap wine, and debate the pros and cons of MFA programs. I mean the kind where you and your friends accept that you’re all totally weird, that you’d all rather be characters in books than real humans, and then you go ahead and make that happen.
With these party themes, you’ll be on your merry way to dressing like your fictional best friends, eating like them, listening to their favorite tunes, and even getting into hilarious, plot-twisting antics like them. Want to see what it’s like to be a zombie from Zone One? Who in their right mind wouldn’t? Want to try on the Cheryl Strayed look for a night? Now’s your chance. After all, you've been looking for an excuse to roll right out of bed and straight to a party.
So pick your favorite book, grab some willing friends, and throw the most fabulous literary party of all time. You’ll be so glad you did when you wake up the next morning surrounded by tattered books, wine puddles, and argyle socks.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, with Illustrations by Maira Kalman
What to Wear: Dress up as your favorite punctuation mark, and make everyone else guess what you are. (Bonus points for a diaresis couples costume!)What to Serve: Alphabet soup — not to eat, just to have the most competitive food spelling bee of all time.What to Play: An operatic adaptation of the book created by the composer Nico Muhly, punctuated by the sobbing of your friends as they contemplate the unfathomable beauty of Universal Grammar.What to Do: Play Scrabble, but only if you can win so ruthlessly and viciously that you no longer have friends by the end of the party. Grammar is the only friend you need from now on.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
What to Wear: No makeup, a grubby T-shirt over a sports bra, shorts, and too-small hiking boots. Bonus points if you actually came straight from the gym and smell like rot.What to Serve: Protein bars with a side of canned beans, and a big punch bowl of “Sarsaparilla” or “Orange Crush” (aka food coloring mixed into sugar water).What to Play: Nature sounds, at a volume so loud that your entire building will think they’re on the Pacific Crest Trail. This is necessary, I promise.What to Do: Hold a reading of Adrienne Rich’s Dream of a Common Language, making everyone add “in bed” after each stanza. Never gets old!
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
What to Wear: Rags. Bonus points if they’re made of human flesh. (No, not your own flesh. Going nudie does not count.)What to Serve: Nothing. Or, if you’re feeling peckish, a platter of newborn infants.What to Play: Deafening silence, punctuated only by a persistent, bloody cough. Obviously, you’ll have to practice your hacking cough before your guests arrive, so you don’t choke up when it’s time for some phlegm delivery.What to Do: Walk. Then walk more. Realize you’ve been heading north instead of south. Turn around and walk even more. Take no breaks.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
What to Wear: A chic dress, extra large sunglasses, a silk headscarf, and a cloak of snarkiness to hide your broken dreams.What to Serve: Have your virtual assistant in India/actual scam artist from Russia order you some Chinese takeout from that place down the street. What to Play: Abbey Road by The Beatles. Ad nauseum. What to Do: Get wasted and book a cruise to Antarctica. Tell no one.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
What to Wear: A flowing ball gown, complete with a huge, feathered hat and a rib-crunching corset. Just make sure you look more beautiful and thin than all your friends.What to Serve: Tea, finger sandwiches, oysters, and whatever else your guests want. You won’t be eating it anyway.What to Play: Mozart. Or go big, and get a harpist. (An ugly one, so you look even more gorgeous standing next to her.)What to Do: Recline on your fainting couch and await marriage proposals. You did restrict your guest list to only wealthy, high-society bachelors, right?
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
What to Wear: A skeleton tee, as only a true skel would.What to Serve: Brain tartare, with a side of brain juice punch. (Shave some brain truffles on top, if you can afford it.)What to Play: East Hastings by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But make sure to splice in the Hannah Montana soundtrack, just to keep things real weird.What to Do: The party will run much more smoothly if you’re ALL undead, so don’t be shy about luring your friends into a corner and eating their brains. You’ll all look back on this one day and laugh/grunt through your decaying nostrils.
1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton
What to Wear: For the most extravagant international potluck of all time, dress to match the country of origin of your food. Make sure to assign yourself the most exotic country, so you can laugh at how uncultured everyone else is.What to Serve: Assign one of the 1,000 must-eats to each of your friends, and you’ll have a to-die-for (pun VERY intended, thanks) banquet of frozen Milky Ways, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Bangers and Mash, Empanadas, Fritto Misto, Zanzibar Duck, and Pierogis.What to Play: Play the shamelessly-eat-your-face-off game. Maybe you already know how it goes?What to Do: Eat. Then eat some more. When you feel stuffed, take a long hard look in the mirror. Who are you? How did you get here? Why does your belly hurt so much? Why are you doing this to yourself? Then ignore all those questions and remind yourself that you have 964 foods to go. Get back out there, tiger.
Science... For Her! by Megan Amram
What to Wear: One of those totally sexy white coats real scientists wear, but definitely leave it unbuttoned on top so everyone can see the twinsies! Oh, and obvi cut it shorter so it’s not totally frumpy!What to Serve: Kale!!!!What to Play: Probably like a science talk, right? Maybe one by that guy Ted everyone’s been talking about? He sounds hot. Super hot.What to Do: Play with CHEMICALS!! Y’know what I’m sayin’, right?? ;)
Image: Dennis Skley/flickr