Station Eleven

Emily St John Mandel  Read with a theatre interval ice-cream that’s probably melted, because you don’t have any electricity or refrigeration.  Station Eleven brings to mind that quote from The Dead Poet’s Society; We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And…

The Power

The Power Naomi Alderman Read with Electric Iced Tea. A twist on the Long Island Iced Tea, mix equal parts vodka, rum, tequila, gin and blue curaçao with lemon juice and soda.  This is one of those books you really really wish you’d written. Its concept is simple: what if women, one day, were able…

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell  Read with tea that is ‘lush green in a smooth pale bowl’. The genius of David Mitchell isn’t his novels in isolation; though of course they are something special. It’s in the macro-novel that can be seen when you read more than one and consider them from afar. Each is tied together by…

The Paper Menagerie

Ken Liu  Read with a Baijiu Sour Dry shake 1/4 egg white. Shake egg whites, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Vinn Baiju and syrup with ice. Strain, but do not double strain, into a rocks glass. Add 3 drops of Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters. America meets China. Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie is a novel-length assertion…

Uprooted

Naomi Novik Read with elderberry wine out of a goblet, or if you have the workmanship a cup made of bark (I didn’t) (obviously). Uprooted was much better than I thought it was going to be. I have become a little more cynical and a lot more critical with time, and I expected this to…

The Little Stranger

Sarah Waters Read with a glass of port with an accompanying cigarette in front of an open fire. This is a classic/ not classic haunted house book, and Hundreds Hall will stay with me almost as long as Manderly or Bly. Sarah Waters made a name for herself with her neo-Victorian literature. She is rigorous in…

Swing Time

Zadie Smith  Read with imaginary tea served in fussy pink plastic teacups.  When I started reading Swing Time, I was going to write an Ode to its Britishness. Zadie Smith is one of the bastion authors of English literature, confronting race, class, sex, gender and everything in between with alarming sensitivity. Her work is so…

Grief is a Thing with Feathers

Max Porter Read with a mug of warm milk, tucked in bed, possibly with a beloved childhood stuffed toy to hand. On this day of love and celebrating romantic attachments I have read a book full of things that suit my mood on the topic: death and misery. Hooray! Grief is a Thing with Feathers…

Sweetgirl

Travis Mulhauser Read with whiskey from the bottle— if you don’t have the means to cook your own meth.  Okay before I write this let me first defend myself by saying that the title is by far the worst element of this book. I chose this book by the famously renowned method of judging it…

Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen Read with a glass of punch (and possibly some canapès) To taste: cranberry juice, lemonade and orange juice, with a shot of rum and orange zest to garnish. [Spoiler warnings: do not read if you hope to watch or read the play and haven’t already.] Hedda Gabler, Victorian housewife and the voice of…

Beowulf

Anonymous, ‘Beowulf Poet.’ Read with Mead.  From the Old English ‘medu’ this is fermented honey and water, sometimes with fruits and spices. Can be found in various organic shops but, for some reason, I had a bottle in the bottom of my fridge so start there. Beowulf. Have you heard of Beowulf? Of course you…

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Mohsin Hamid Read with Mint Tea. Wash and tear up the fresh mint leaves. Put them in a coffee press or teapot and pour boiling water over them. Allow to steep for about 3-7 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea. I was a little slow on the uptake with this one. It’s…