Would You Rather?
Pair with: A box of Crisp White Franzia
In this funny and poignant collection of essays, Heaney writes about the growing pains of learning to adult during your 20s—including, in Heaney’s case, coming out at 28. Navigating one’s 20s is difficult, intense, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. Heaney covers it all, from figuring out her first adult relationship to still obsessing over Harry Styles. Read with a box of Crisp White Franzia to get the full 20-something experience.
Marilou Is Everywhere
Sarah Elaine Smith
Pair with: Pinot Grigio
In rural Pennsylvania, 14-year-old Cindy lives day by day with intermittent electricity, one book, and a mother who appears only occasionally. So when a teen girl from an affluent family goes missing, Cindy steps into the girl’s life, one surrounded by books, full meals, and maternal love from a woman who can’t accept the truth about her missing daughter. But is any of it sustainable? Pair with a Pinot Grigio with a hint of pear or apple to lighten the mood.
The Memory Police
Pair with: A unique blend of rich red wines
Yoko Ogawa has been praised for her magnificent strangeness, and indeed she is a unique author. In The Memory Police, a young novelist attempts to continue her writing career as everything around her is squelched by a tyrannical government: boats, birds, roses—and eventually, novels. Pair with a unique blend of rich red wines like Syrah, Cabernet, and Grenache to warm you up and celebrate originality.
You Can't Touch My Hair
Pair with: Rosé
2 Dope Queens podcaster and comedian Phoebe Robinson’s New York Times-bestselling essay collection will make you laugh, and cry, and think—and laugh some more. Robinson shares experiences like being cast in the role of “the Black friend,” being followed around stores by security guards, and answering the question “Can I touch your hair?” (No, you can’t.) Best read with a glass of the Dope Queens’ favorite drink: Rosé.
Pair with: Mulled Wine
Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Theater director Felix is ready for revenge on his betrayers, who ousted him from his position at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival 12 years ago and left him in a backwoods hovel, licking his wounds. Now, finally, he has a chance to capture the traitors, by putting on a production of The Tempest at a nearby prison. But will putting on the play heal Felix or only hurt his enemies? Pair this one with mulled wine for an Elizabethan feel.
When in French
Pair with: Champagne
When she was in her early 30s, Lauren Collins moved to London and fell in love with a Frenchman named Olivier. As their relationship grew, Lauren started to wonder what she might not understand about Olivier because she didn’t speak French. Are there things one can only learn about a person through his native language? Shortly after their marriage, Lauren and Olivier moved to Francophone Geneva, and Lauren decided that she would learn French. What follows is a funny and surprising memoir about the embarrassments and joys of learning a new language, and the culture and history behind that language. Pair it with some bubbly from the actual Champagne region of France for some authentic armchair traveling.
Antonio Di Benedetto
Pair with: Argentinian Malbec
It took 50 years for Antonio di Benedetto’s Argentinian novel to be translated into English, but it was worth the wait. Zama is about Don Diego de Zama, an 18th-century servant of the Spanish crown living in solitude and anticipation in the remote post of Asunción, Paraguay. Don Diego is lonely but hopeful, as he plots a transfer to Buenos Aires that he’s sure will change his life. Best paired with a spicy Argentinian Malbec.
Pair with: Sauvignon Blanc
Tracey and Aimee, two young biracial girls in 1980s London, dream of being dancers. Tracey, the one with the most talent, becomes a professional dancer. Aimee becomes an assistant to a famous pop star who takes her around the world, and her job gives her a front-row seat to the lives of the wealthy. Later, Aimee goes to West Africa with humanitarian ambitions, and the story moves to the origins of such profound inequality. Best paired with a South African Sauvignon Blanc.
Book clubs are about reading, we know, but it can also be fun to share a glass of wine and a good laugh at your meetings. Wine and books go so well together that we thought we’d pair some of our favorite reads with suggestions for complementary vino. Have a glass of celebratory champagne while discussing Lauren Collins’s memoir When in French, or bond over rosé and Phoebe Robinson’s essays in You Can’t Touch My Hair. And if you don’t belong to a book club, relax with a glass of wine while you soak up some quality solo time. You’ve earned it.
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