The literature: Kaui Hart Hemmings’ THE DESCENDANTS

The libation: Next week your humble sommelier will be lounging on a beach on the Big Island, reading extensively and drinking everything she can get her hands on that has a little umbrella sticking out of it. (She’s thinking of it as a research trip and wondering vaguely if she can write it off on her taxes next year.) But fear not - she’s planning a special Proof (Beach) Reading series for you based on said research. 

We’ll kick it off with Hemmings’ quintessential Hawaiian novel and a Lava Flow cocktail. In a blender, combine 2oz fresh stemmed strawberries, 1oz light rum, and 1oz Malibu rum. Blend until smooth and pour into a pitcher. Next, blend a banana, 3oz coconut cream, and 3oz pinapple juice. Blend until smooth and add slowly to the strawberry puree. Garnish with a pineapple slice and a strawberry, and sip deeply as you reapply your SPF 45.

Photo © Eric Chan

"Research." Yup.

(omg omg vacation so soon omg)



The literature: Tana French’s IN THE WOODS

The libation: In an alternate universe, Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are sitting down for an evening in, taking turns choosing records and gently mocking each other’s taste in music.

Cassie walks out of the kitchen carrying two perfectly-poured pints of Guinness, hands one to Rob. He raises it to her with a cheeky wink, takes a sip, pulls a bit of a face. “What the hell’d you do to the Guinness, Cass?”

"It’s a black and black. My gran used to drink them. Couple of dashes of blackcurrant cordial in your Guinness, and she swore up and down it’d cure what ailed you."

He takes another pull and cocks his head. “Pretty good when someone’s not tricked you into thinking it’s just straight Guinness, actually. And what is it you think ails me, anyway?”

She sets her glass down on the table and climbs into his lap, grins at him impishly. “How long do you have?”

No one in this house has ever heard of Katy Devlin. No one in this house works Murder or Undercover. The blackcurrant cordial doesn’t remind anyone here of the shrubs that grew in the woods behind the housing estate where they grew up, the woods their friends never left.

There’s a fire snapping in the grate, and a dreary Irish rain outside. The remains of a curry takeaway sit forgotten on the counter. They are safe. They are home.

Photo © kyezitri

Whoops, this one inadvertently turned into AU fanfic.



The literature: Dane Huckelbridge’s BOURBON

The libation: I mean. Come on. What did you think you were gonna get? You drink Bulleit Ten Year either neat, with a splash of water, or MAYBE with one ice cube. MAYBE.

Give it your respect and full attention, and in between sips, let Huckelbridge educate yourself on this, the most noble of spirits. You’ll thank us later.

Thanks for handing me this one on a platter, harpercollins.



The literature: Karen Russell’s SLEEP DONATION

The libation: How are you today? Poor thing, you look tired. Oh, up all night? Let me guess - Sleep Donation? Yeah, we’ve been seeing a lot of that lately - red eyes, dark circles, pale skin. We’re almost to Donor Y elective levels in here! Hahaaa— oh. Er. We’re sorry. No, you’re right. That’s not funny at all. Uh, we’ve got just the thing for you.

Fill a mug or Irish coffee glass three quarters of the way with fresh, hot, strong coffee and stir in 1 tsp brown sugar till dissolved. Add one shot of Jameson & stir, and top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.

We won’t sleep, nor will we dream, but at least we’ll finish the rest of Sleep Donation.

Photo © The Kitchn

We’ll never sleep (God knows we’ll try).



The literature: Douglas Adams’ THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

The libation: Today in 1952, Douglas Noel Adams entered this world for entirely too short a time. He gave us Vogon poetry, the Heart of Gold, “Don’t Panic,” and, however indirectly, this video of Mark Cawardine’s head being violated by an endangered parrot while Stephen Fry looks on.

Yet perhaps his most recognizable contribution is the feckless, bathrobed Arthur Dent, who wanted nothing so much as a cuppa:

"No," he said, "look, it’s very, very simple… all I want… is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen."
And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.
"So that’s it, is it?" said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.
"Yes," said Arthur, "that is what I want."
"You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?"
"Er, yes. With milk."

And yet it seems that Arthur Dent probably could have done with something a bit stronger in the course of his adventures. Here’s a thought: take a bottle of good quality bourbon (Bulleit or similar) and pour it into a container with about 1/2 oz loose black tea leaves. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, tasting to determine your preferred strength. Strain the leaves out and return the bourbon to its bottle. Pour a finger or two over ice in a highball and garnish with a twist of lemon. (Stir in a teaspoon of simple syrup, if you like.)

Lie back and think of England as you sip something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Photo © Dan4th

Today is apparently the day I blast every single social media account to which I have access with Hitchhiker’s stuff.



The literature: David Mitchell’s THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET (in honor of Proof Reading’s 1000th follower!)

The libation: This is a Proof Reading original, a little something we’ve conjured up for you, dear readers, to mirror the intersection of Dutch and Japanese culture in Mitchell’s exquisite novel. Mix four parts shōchū, two parts fresh lemon juice, and two parts cinnamon syrup. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Sip while you contemplate the Dutch East India Company’s monopoly over the cinnamon trade during the 18th century. (I mean, you don’t have to. It was just an idea.) 

Meanwhile, your sommelier will raise a glass to you tonight to thank all one thousand of you for being here. Yes, you. Especially you.

Photo © LAT

I love you guys a lot. Also I really want to take a bartending class now.



The literature: Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY

The libation: I hesitate to recommend wine, dear reader, solely on the basis of the consequences of Henry & Co’s bacchanal, but with proper supervision, mulled wine IS the best possible pairing for this wintry novel. Insulate yourself from the neverending winter that took such a toll on Richard with a mug or three this evening, wrapped in a cozy blanket in a warm room (ideally one with an intact roof).

Pour a bottle of red wine (err on the fruity side) into a small saucepan along with 4oz bourbon, 5 star anise pods, 5 cinnamon sticks, 2 tsp sugar, and a good length of orange peel studded with cloves. Stir together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the wine is warm through (but don’t let it boil!). Strain and serve in your hand-warmingest mug, garnished with a cinnamon stick. Maybe keep a sober friend around, just to make sure you don’t disappear off into the woods.

Photo © GSO

Can you tell it’s really cold in my office today?



The literature: Lorrie Moore’s BARK

The libation: One could, we suppose, celebrate the first new Lorrie Moore story collection in fifteen years by shoving a lemon meringue pie in one’s own face, as does a character in “The Juniper Tree.” But we really can’t endorse that, as a) it’s difficult to read when one has pie filling in one’s eyes and b) one risks getting pie on one’s book, which is unforgivable.

Instead, stir together 1.5 oz limoncello, 1.5 oz vanilla vodka, and 1 oz lemonade. Pour into a martini glass rimmed with crushed meringue crumbs for a lemon meringue martini. It’s still a little risky, as one may get crumbs in one’s book, but it’s still a far sight better than pie.

Photo via

This charming little book by the inimitable Bob Boyle (supersillyhappy) is on sale TODAY! It is my very very favorite thing I ever worked on at harpercollinschildrens. You should buy it for anyone you might know in the 4-8 set, or anyone who likes cute things, compromise, friendship, and/or robots (that should cover everyone you know, really). Check it.

This charming little book by the inimitable Bob Boyle (supersillyhappy) is on sale TODAY! It is my very very favorite thing I ever worked on at harpercollinschildrens. You should buy it for anyone you might know in the 4-8 set, or anyone who likes cute things, compromise, friendship, and/or robots (that should cover everyone you know, really). Check it.