<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Monday,  May 20 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Life / Entertainment

Books paired perfectly: 10 titles to go superbly with delicious drinks

By The Seattle Times, — Dominic Baez, desk editor, — Stefanie Loh, assistant managing editor, — Sarah-Mae McCullough, features producer, — Margo Vansynghel, arts economy reporter, — Gregory Scruggs, outdoors reporter, — Gemma Wilson, arts and culture reporter, — Gemma Wilson, arts and culture reporter, — Jackie Varriano, food writer, — D.B., — Tat Bellamy Walker, communities reporter, — S.L.
Published: December 9, 2023, 5:23am
2 Photos
(Mohd Hafiez Mohd Razali/Dreamstime/TNS) (iStock.com)
(Mohd Hafiez Mohd Razali/Dreamstime/TNS) (iStock.com) Photo Gallery

During the cold months, few pastimes are better than curling up with a good book and a comforting drink. Wondering how to make these moments even sweeter? Pair what you’re reading with a drink that matches the vibe or pace of the story.

While some staff members could argue that Diet Coke goes with any book, the abundance of tasty, seasonal drinks in the fall and winter particularly hit the spot when reading this time of year. Try a rich and invigorating peppermint mocha with a twisty, satisfying mystery. Or perhaps a hot rum punch to go with a story that has a heartwarming, feel-good ending. And fear not year-round iced coffee drinkers, your favorite buzzy beverage is perfect with an energetic comic book.

Find these and more delightful pairing recommendations from our staff.

  • Mulled wine & “Dune” by Frank Herbert

This captivating, adventurous novel requires a little time and patience to enjoy — not unlike mulled wine — but pays off in spades as you follow Paul Atreides and so, so many others through ingeniously wove layers of politics, ecology, technology and the human condition as mysteries, betrayals and delicious revelations abound. (Not to mention the link between a galaxy and a drink both defined by spice.)

  • Black coffee & “Carrie Soto Is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This novel reminds me of black coffee because it is a tour de force in terms of narrative pacing. The titular character, Carrie Soto, is a pro tennis player who’s consumed by the ideals of legacy, athletic immortality and greatness, and is driven to come out of retirement to reclaim her all-time titles won record after a younger player surpasses her. But Soto is a more nuanced and complex character than initially meets the eye, and this is no mere sports book. It draws on themes of legacy, happiness and wanting in a way that’s relatable and aspirational. And that pacing— Taylor Jenkins Reid grabs hold of you from the first page and doesn’t relinquish until the very end. Which means that the black coffee coursing through your veins will keep you amped for Soto’s suspenseful tennis action scenes, and also keep you up at night when it’s really time for bed but you just … have … to … read … one … more … chapter.

  • Spiced hot chocolate & “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver

Despite dealing with some heavy themes, Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel is warmhearted and full of love and hope. It follows a protagonist with a sharp tongue and determined spirit as she sets out to deviate from her small town’s status quo, and ends up creating an unconventional family. Take a comforting drink, like hot chocolate, that reminds you of what’s precious about childhood and add a little edge or something new, maybe a spice like cinnamon or nutmeg, to pair with this highly engaging read.

  • Espresso martini & “The Guest” by Emma Cline

The striking, kelly-green cover of “The Guest” has made, much like the espresso martini, many an Instagram appearance in the past year. But pierce its trendy veil and you’ll find that this sparing, unnerving tale of a young woman navigating an upper-class environment pushes you to the edge ever-so-slowly and deliciously. By the end, this sharp and bitter nail-biter will leave you jittery and, not unlike the main character, prone to making bad decisions.

  • Hot rum punch & “Archipelago” by Monique Roffey

This novel of an impromptu father-daughter journey by sailboat through the Caribbean and Pacific coasts travels through rum-soaked territory, with a feel-good ending as warming as hot punch on a cold night. I recommend a recipe from The New York Times, which I make Navy-strength every winter in a slow cooker, then keep in a glass bottle as a concentrate. Pour a splash into a mug, add boiling water and voilà.

  • Irish coffee & “Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers” by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green

I’ve always considered Irish coffee a whiskey drink for nonwhiskey people because, with enough sugar and cream, you can forget (at your own risk) how much of a boozy punch this drink really packs. I get the same feeling from this memoir, which I have been recommending to everyone as a theater book for non-theater people: deliciously gossipy, absolutely, but that froth doesn’t lessen the emotional wallop it packs in the end. Mary Rodgers was a writer and composer, and the daughter of Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame). She co-wrote her memoir with New York Times theater critic Jesse Green, who adds his own layers (via extensive, often funny footnotes) of warmth, humor and insight into the woman herself.

  • Peppermint mocha & “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim

When I think of a peppermint mocha, I think of something that’s rich yet invigorating and just a little bit surprising— exactly like this 2019 mystery novel. The book opens with the tragic death of an autistic child in a hyperbaric chamber, and we spend the rest of the chapters trying to unravel just what happened that day. Told from multiple points of view, there are twists, turns and characters that will keep you guessing throughout. There is a satisfying (yet a little sad) ending that helped kick off a string of mystery novels for me— much like a really great peppermint mocha, which, when done right, can leave you licking your lips and wanting another.

  • Iced coffee & “The Death of Captain America” (Omnibus) by Ed Brubaker

“Steve Rogers is dead! Long live Captain America!” Like with iced coffee, you know exactly what you’re getting with this legendary omnibus detailing the fallout of, well … the death of Steve Rogers and what that means for the U.S. and beyond. Also like with iced coffee, “Captain America” will leave you buzzing with energy, thanks to the superb storytelling by Eisner Award-winner Ed Brubaker. The death of the American icon has his fellow heroes — particularly Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier — racing to protect Cap’s dream from the horrifying machinations of the Red Skull. The pacing is heart-pounding, the characters amazingly fleshed out, the artwork jaw-dropping. (Please put the book down when you’re taking a sip of your drink: You don’t want to mar any of these pages.) The comic book omnibus is a phenomenal read on its own, but be aware: It takes place following the aftermath of Marvel Comics’ Civil War arc, with collections both before and after this one. You’ll be fine reading this on its own, but reading the others just means having a fuller appreciation — and another reason to head to the coffee shop.

  • Sangria & “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays” by Damon Young

When I think of sangria, I think of “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays” by Damon Young. Young’s book is spicy but also has many sweet and heartfelt moments from his life. In the book, Young uses humor to spotlight race, culture and the ongoing challenges he has faced as a Black man in America.

  • Hot toddy & “Exciting Times” by Naoise Dolan

Sit back, nurse a comforting hot toddy, and allow this gem of a novel to slowly envelop you like a hug you’ll be sorry to break up. The premise: Ava, an Irish expat teaching English in Hong Kong, is enamored by the filthy rich banker she’s involved with, but not enamored enough to catch feelings for him because, well, she just doesn’t do that. Enter Edith, a sophisticated lawyer from Hong Kong who inadvertently becomes entangled in Ava’s love triangle. It’s a fairly common trope, but you’re reading not for the plot with this one (though that’s pretty decent, too). You’re reading to appreciate Dolan’s beautiful prose and fascinatingly flawed characters and how they all somehow endear themselves to you.