Your book club is about reading, we know, but it’s just more fun when you share a glass of wine and a good laugh at your meetings. Wine, reading, and literary discussions all go so well together that we thought we’d pair some of this Fall’s best books with some suggestions for complementary vino. Have a glass of celebratory champagne while discussing Lauren Collins’ memoir When in French: Love in a Second Language, or bond over Rosé and Phoebe Robinson’s essays in You Can’t Touch My Hair. And, hey, if you don’t belong to a book club, relax with a glass of wine while you read! You deserve it.
You Can’t Touch My Hair, and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Pair with: Rosé
2 Dope Queens podcaster and comedian Phoebe Robinson’s New York Times-bestselling collection of essays will make you laugh, and cry, and think, and laugh some more. Robinson shares experiences that include being cast in the role of “the black friend,” 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.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Pair with: Mulled Wine
Margaret Atwood’s newest novel 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 twelve 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.
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When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins
Pair with: Champagne
When she was in her early thirties, Lauren Collins moved to London and fell in love with a Frenchman named Olivier. As their relationship grew, with both of them speaking English, 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.
I’ll Tell You in Person: Essays by Chloe Caldwell
Pair with: a box of Crisp White Franzia
In this collection of essays, Caldwell writes honestly and compassionately about becoming an adult. Navigating through one’s twenties is difficult, intense, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. Caldwell covers it all, from jobs to dating to friendships to food. Read with a box of Crisp White Franzia to get the full twenty-something experience.
Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik
Pair with: Cabernet Sauvignon, preferably from Washington
Just after twenty-one-year-old Joseph March graduates from college, he begins to suffer the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and his mother is convicted of murder. So Joe finds himself moving to White Pine, Washington, where his mother is serving time. He is joined by Tess, the woman he has fallen in love with, and his father. Over time, the community starts to see Joe’s mother as a heroine, and her crime as a righteous act. Eventually, Joe finds himself involved in a secret, violent plan that will change his life forever. Curl up with one of Washington state’s rich Cabernet Sauvignons to read this one.
Zama by Antonio di Benedetto
Pair with: Argentinian Malbec
It has taken fifty years for Antonio di Benedetto’s Argentinian novel to be translated into English, and 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 is sure will change his life. Best paired with an Argentinian Malbec.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Pair with: Pinot Grigio
Shelby Richmond’s life changes when her best friend is in an accident that destroys her entire future, and Shelby is left with the burden of guilt. Faithful is the story of a young woman making a life for herself after tragedy. She finds a circle of kindred souls in New York City, including one who has been watching over her ever since the fateful night. Pair with a Pinot Grigio with a hint of pear or apple to lighten the mood.
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
Pair with: a unique blend of rich red wines
Read something a little different with your wine. Yoko Tawada has been praised for her “magnificent strangeness,” and indeed she is a unique author. Memoirs of a Polar Bear is what it sounds like. Three members of a polar bear family—grandmother, mother, and son—who are famous as circus performers and writers among human society, write their autobiographies. Pair with a unique blend of rich red wines like Syrah, Cabernet, and Grenache to warm you up and celebrate originality.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
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.
Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey by Elena Ferrante
Pair With: Chianti
The author of My Brilliant Friend shares over 20 years of her interviews, letters, essays, and reflections. She defends her choice to write under a pseudonym and keep her life private. She discusses the process of writing and her thoughts about literature today. She reflects for her readers on her childhood, on psychoanalysis, on motherhood, and the cities she’s lived in. A beautiful and intimate self-portrait of a writer whose safeguarding of her identity is both political and personal. Best paired with a nice Chianti.
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