Shelf Awareness alerts us to this Bustle post on 19 books to read based on your drink of choice. Though I have no principled objection to either drinking or reading I’m not sure how good an idea this is. Too many drinks might tend to slow you down rather than enhance your reading experience — unless you’re one of those who read in order to fall asleep. Certainly the idea shouldn’t be used as encouragement to open a bar/bookstore. The risk of spilling coffee on unsold books must haunt owners of bookstores with coffee bars; but spilled liquor would be an almost certain result of encouraging boozy browsing. Rings from the bottoms of beer mugs do not enhance the value of a novel. But could an aroma of mint julep coming from that copy of Absalom, Absalom! perhaps work as a subliminal sales enhancer?

Not sure that this concept is worth much: choosing books appropriate to the drink you are consuming seems like mixing apples and oranges, or maybe grape and grain. A book takes so much longer to read than any drink to consume. If you persist in downing vodka shots while reading War and Peace you will never finish the book, and may possibly die in the attempt. Maybe it’s an insidious plan by the liquor industry to make us all to go on benders.

The Wine Society advises us that Robert Louis Stevenson called wine bottled poetry, which frankly seems a bit naff to me — but it was a long time ago. They provide a few literary wine references. No doubt you can come up with lots more (but some would say these are already too many).

The idea of a book-of-the-month + wine-of-the-month club does seem to have potential. A package of a book plus a bottle of wine related in some way to this month’s book selection would be a welcome sight. I’d sign up for such double serendipity. The problem however is that book publishers are not allowed to ship wines, and wine stores don’t need to bother with such troublesome procedures to sell their wares. If you see Penguin Random House buying a liquor store, keep your eyes open.* Might it be called Random Public House?

The nearest we effectively get to a wine/book club is a book club (in the sense of a reading circle) which meets to discuss the month’s reading over a bottle of wine. I dare say there are some such groups which strive to make a link between the wine served and the book read.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then go ahead, drink up while reading away. Just chose something that doesn’t demand your full attention. However well it all starts off, you won’t be able to bestow it for too long. Chose a thriller rather than a philosophical tract perhaps. Maybe short stories would be best: see Pub lit.

See also Writers and the bottle.


* About a week after I drafted this along comes the news, via Publishers Lunch, that Penguin Random House has acquired T-shirt company Out of Print Clothing. The new building-annex will be reporting in to the VP of publishing innovation development. PRH indicates that this signals “its intent to greatly expand its author- and imprint-brand-based merchandising capabilities.” Can that liquor store be far behind? After all brands expand.

In a related (?) story Publishing Perspectives also tells us Bertelsmann (PRH’s parent) Education Group has acquired the Idaho-based WhiteCloud Analytics, which specializes in performance management in healthcare.