Cheers to the Weekend 7.20.17
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We are suddenly charging toward August somehow, and scrambling to fit in more summer activities before the warm weather fades to the crisper days of autumn. This weekend will be spent with our families getting to those summer plans, puttering in our gardens, and reading, of course! What are you guys up to this weekend?



A day in the life of an indie publisher we love!

We couldn't agree more about the importance of independent bookstores.

We can never have enough book + cocktail pairings, and some of these look really cool, plus it's so fun that this is a regular series at this bar!

What you can learn about yourself by tracking your reading.



Have you checked our our new insta dedicated to indie and small press?

Tasha's account is reading + lifestyle vibes that feel authentic and are super pretty!

We love Annaciara's bright, happy account. It looks like a book goes everywhere with her, plus she is full of snark and hilarity in her stories. 

Kristine is also nailing that literary lifestyle in the best way.



Michaela - I read up a storm this week, honestly! I'm heading into this weekend hoping to polish off the last bit of Bitter Orange and The Hour of Daydreams, both of which are gorgeous and fascinating in very different ways.

Rikki - I am still jovially reading through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and look forward to watching the movie soon. I forgot I had put The Power of Habit on hold at the library some time ago and started it promptly when it came in. I really love this book, and sneak in a moment to read it every single chance I get!

Want More Books By Independent Publishers In Your Life? Announcing Our New Side Project

Okay, real talk for a second: we LOVE #bookstagram and the book blogging community, but sometimes it can feel like an echo chamber. We really enjoy reading the hot new releases from the big publishers and the access to the larger conversations that allows us, but we also love books put out by smaller presses, which tend to be vastly underrepresented.

With this in mind, we created @theindiebiblio. It's our new Instagram account (it will mainly be run by Michaela) that will focus exclusively on indie publishers and small presses. Nothing will changing here or over on @theardentbiblio, these spaces will remain representations of our true and full reading lives with our usual blend of books + lifestyle. We just wanted a space dedicated to those amazing books and publishers that aren't getting much of a voice in the bookstagram world, and to be a place where readers can reliably find great new books from smaller publishing houses. 

Why should you care about small presses and independent publishers, you ask? This article does a great job explaining it, but essentially it boils down to the fact that they offer a wider variety of voices and experiences as well as writing that takes more creative risks. Personally, I tend to find them more intense and interesting on the whole. If you're finding yourself burnt out or bored with the books traditional publishing puts out, indie presses might be your answer. Here is a resource we made if you're unsure of where to start!

We'll be focusing primarily on literary fiction and fresh releases in the indie world. I've backlogged some old favorites, but new releases that we requested from publishers will be coming in soon, so going forward we will definitely be showcasing what's new and awesome. I have several titles on deck that I am really excited about and can't wait to share with you all.

Give @theindiebiblio a follow if you're interested in diversifying your reading life or checking out what smaller presses have to offer. We'd also love you to tag your indie or small press reads on instagram with the hastag #indiebiblioreads so we can share the love! 


If you ever have any recommendations for us, or know of any accounts/blogs that focus on independent publishers, please send them our way!

Literary Dinner | This One Summer
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This One Summer remains, hands down, one of my favorite graphic novels, and I finally convinced Rikki to read it! The story focuses on the friendship of two girls at their annual summer vacation spot as they come of age. The story mixes in family drama, the awkwardness of being on the cusp of the teenage years, friendship, growing pains, and the complexity of inner life. Some panels are heart-stopping in their elegant blending of text and art to create something meaningful. I especially love how the concept of memory was handled, but it captured so many hard to define emotions so, so beautifully. It embodies my favorite moods of bittersweet and nostalgia, and I haven't ever seen this level of layering in a graphic novel, which makes it extra special. Okay, enough gushing. On to the dinner!


The novel is set at a vaguely rural lake house, and most of the outside scenes are of beaches, family BBQ's, swimming, and the girls walking through the forest. Because the setting is so natural and un-fussy, we simply cut some of Rikki's dappled willow in her yard, stuck the branches in mason jars, and lined them up along the length of the table. We love how they look floral, but aren't.

Also, the collection of pebbles play a big role visually and thematically in the book, so rocks on the table were a must. Candlelight was another must, as many scenes include candles, or outside fires, so we wanted to represent that on the table. Place settings were kept intentionally neutral, highlighted with striped paper napkins to match the aesthetic of the novel. 


Junk food is central to the novel. The girls visit a convenience store, where a lot of the plot is set in motion, to buy snacks for their horror-movie binging. We played with our usual format of charcuterie boards, but instead of fancy ingredients, used junk food and our favorite camping foods. We honestly love the juxtaposition of the elegant and the fun, and this appetizer board was a hit with our kids. 


Of course there was wine! All the adults in the novel are pretty much constantly imbibing wine or beer, and we loved the label on this one for our dinner with it's plants and bugs; so fitting. We think a chilled rosé is the perfect summer wine, don't you agree?


As we discussed the novel, we brought out more fun food. Honoring the recurring BBQ's in the novel and the fact that pizza is a perennial favorite of teens everywhere, we broke out the pizza stone and baked ourselves some deliciousness. Rikki made the pizza dough from scratch, nailed simple sophisticated toppings, and got the perfect amount of bubble and char on the crust. It was just absolutely delicious and fitting. 


S'mores were specifically focused on in one of my favorite scenes, and so while we were finishing dinner, we got a fire started, then broke out the supplies (and Twizzlers, which are repeatedly mentioned) and toasted some marshmallows. It was my 4.5 year old's first time making them and he was completely delighted. Everyone was relaxed and happy, finishing off drinks, casually chatting, and helping the kids assemble their s'mores. It was truly a perfect reflection of the book's overarching theme of family. 


It gets dark pretty late around here, but when the sky began to deepen, it also deepened the beauty of our tablescape. It was a fitting end to the night; the dramatic backdrop enhancing the effects of the warmth of good conversation with friends and nostalgic food.

Another beautiful summer night talking books and enjoying good company. These are the days. 

Cheers to the Weekend 7.14.18
*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support! And thank you to Random House for our complimentary review copy of Spinning Silver!

Another week deeper into summer and it feels like it's slipping through my fingers already! It finally got HOT this week here in the PNW and we are embracing beach days, morning farmer's markets, summer produce from our gardens, and air conditioning. What are you guys up to this weekend?



Absolutely love this post pairing books with vacation destinations. Makes us itchy to go exploring, books in tow!

Have you read anything by Anne Tyler? Here's an introduction, including where to start! I've been meaning to read her for forever, this might be the push I need.

Ever wonder what book covers look like during the design process, or what ideas get thrown out before the final copy? Here's what 11 Book covers looked like before the final cover

Which of these true crime books do you think would make the most thrilling movie?



Have you seen our new project? We were noticing that indie and small presses were vastly under represented in the #bookstagram world, and realized the biggest reason for that is people don't really know where to start in the indie world. We decided to change that, and started a new space to exclusively highlight independent and small press offerings. So far we've been working on backlogging books we've loved, but we will start posting all about great new releases as we go forward. The focus will be on literary fiction, and we think most of the books we're choosing will appeal to a wide range of readers, so stay tuned!

Books + food = forever our favorite combo and Amy is nailing it.

Travel, beautifully composed photos, and books of course! We can't get enough

New podcast + beautiful feed alert! We love what Becca and Corinne are doing SO MUCH. 



Michaela - I'm in the middle of like 5 books, but I'm specifically trying to finish Spinning Silver and Bitter Orange this weekend, both of which I am completely loving so far!

Rikki - I'm still working through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and of course, am loving it. I've also started Growing A Farmer, which I've had checked out from the library forever it seems like. It's about a local farmer who lives about fifteen minutes from us, which is so fun! Lastly, I'm so excited to be starting The Girl in the Garden.

Summer Books + Cocktails 2018
*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support. Some of these books were gifted to us by the publisher.

With summer in full swing, we're finding we just want to be outside with our books, ice cold drink in hand. Can you blame us? We rounded up a few of the books we've been loving lately and paired them with some drinks that match them perfectly. Got a cocktail shaker handy? Let's do this!

P.S. Check out last year's summer books , book flights, and summer cocktails!


You Think It, I'll Say It | Curtis Sittenfeld


Timely and pitch perfect, this short story collection explores the intimate corners of people's lives in a way that is nuanced and relatable. A trendy wine mixed with a jumble of flavors that meld together perfectly? Sounds like the perfect alcoholic embodiment of this book!


Rosé Sangria

  • 1 bottle of dry rosé wine
  • .5 cup brandy
  • .5 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 cup melon cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced

Add all the fruit to the bottom of the pitcher. Top with liquors and club soda. Stir, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve in wine glasses with ice. 


Social Creature | Tara Burton


Social Creature is one of summer's hottest thrillers and calls for a cocktail that is as sophisticated and trendy as Louise wants to be. We think a classic daiquiri fits perfectly with this novel and could easily be Louise's go-to bar order when she isn't quaffing free champagne. When served in elegant stemware this is timeless sophistication with a touch of glamour; it's not the strawberry pink slushy monstrosity you're imagining, but a drink that is simple, elegant, and not particularly sweet.



  • Crushed Ice
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup

Put the ice in a cocktail shaker, add the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.


A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespeare


Mortals and fairies, a summer night, an enchanted forest, star-crossed lovers, beauty, love potions, magic flowers, and happy endings all around make this whimsical play one of my favorites. It's the perfect fantastical story to read under the stars on a warm summer evening. Cocktails for this book should be herby, fizzy, and fun: we recommend a rosemary gin fizz.


Rosemary Gin Fizz

Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • .5 cup sugar
  • .5 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

Combine in a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar completely dissolves while muddling rosemary. Let cool. 

Gin Fizz

  • .25 cup gin
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • .25 cup seltzer

Combine gin, citrus juices, and 2 tablespoons simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into a rocks glass over ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with a rosemary sprig if desired. 


Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh


Waugh is a gorgeous writer and recounts the relationship between two young men (one of whom is very rich, and very complicated) in the waning days of England's great houses. The book takes you from Oxford, to the English countryside, through Venice, on cruise ships to New York, to Morocco, and back into the "present day" where Charles, our narrator, is a Captain in the British army. Warm, nostalgic, and full of art, love, complicated friendships, grandeur and loss; it's just gossipy and opulent enough, but grounded with heavier themes. A classic Gin and Tonic is the perfect pairing; stiff and simple, yet luxurious.


Gin + Tonic

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3 oz good tonic water
  • 1/2 a lime, juiced

Add all ingredients to a highball glass with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge. 


Circe | Madeline Miller


Circe is a reimagining of the classic Greek myth, so we chose a cocktail that incorporates classic Greek flavors and is as yellow as Circe's famous eyes. Honestly, it tastes like a tasty, alcoholic falafel. Something about the herbs and all the botanicals in the gin just mix up nicely together, and give a really mediterranean feel. I guarantee this drink will be on repeat this summer around here! 


Cucumber Mint Gimlet

  • slices of cucumber
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1.5 tsp simple syrup
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1.5 oz gin

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint, cucumber, and simple syrup. Fill shaker with ice, then add lime juice and gin. Shake, strain into a martini glass, and garnish with mint. 


Everything Here is beautiful | Mira Lee


We were recently lucky enough to be sent a complimentary box from Bad People Book Club to test out! They design a cocktail to pair with a book and send you both the book and the ingredients (minus the alcohol) with a handy recipe card. We can 100% get behind their mission to encourage a chill night with friends discussing books with a cocktail to match.

The book we got was Everything Here is Beautiful, and the cocktail has some color changing wizardry involved to reflect one of the main character's shifting personality due to mental illness. Pretty cool, right? This was definitely one of the more inventive cocktails we've ever made ourselves, and it was super smooth and balanced with interesting flavors and not too much sweetness. Thanks again, Bad People Book Club!


Do you have a favorite drink you like to mix up in the summer? Or a great idea for a cocktail + book pairing?

We'd love to hear!





Browsers Cookbook Book Club | Spring 2018 Edition
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For the first time in nearly a year we were able to attend this together (you can see that one right over here) and it was just as amazing as ever. 

If you aren't familiar, our favorite local bookstore, Browsers, in Olympia, WA, hosts a quarterly cookbook book club, and we were welcomed in to attend and style the event. The concept is simple: once a season they pick a cookbook, and members make a dish and bring it to share. A dinner party ensues as everyone sits down to enjoy a meal and conversation together in the loft space above the bookstore. It's such a great idea, and proves books don't have to be high literature to be a connecting force. This was their spring event, and members were to cook from either Delancey or A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. 


For this event we wanted to keep the vibe springy and cozy, while still maintaining a modern aesthetic to match the feel of Wizenberg's books, and to reflect the season. We cut up some bunches of eucalptus from Trader Joe's and wove them around various candles in a color palette of sage, rose gold, and white. We also evenly spaced flower arrangements from Fleurae along the length of the table for a good dose riotous springtime color. The table was set, the wine was opened, and all that was left was to wait for guests to arrive. 


We have to admire the complete transformation this space has undergone since the last time we were here. The bookstore did some major renovations and reimagined the entire loft space as well as the retail space directly below it to update their safety standards and to modernize the look. Those months of construction were well worth the time, because it is absolutely stunning now; we can hardly believe it's the same space!


With the arrival of all sixteen guests bearing various bowls and platters of delicious things, the evening really got started. Everyone was invited to load up their plates and sit down for good food and even better conversation. Every time we've attended, we've noticed there is always this warm, buzzing energy as people connect and laugh together. It always feels like a whole table full of friends even though most people were meeting each other for the first time. We were especially excited to get to meet our instagram friend Krysta in real life!


It took hours for the conversation to wind down and the food to disappear from the tables. Half empty bottles of wine and guttering candles were strewn along the table as everyone filtered out and another wonderful event came to a close. Thank you, Browser's for hosting this event and allowing us to take part in it!



Styling | The Ardent Biblio

Venue | Browsers 

Flowers | Fleurae

Pottery | Mariella Luz

Deep Readers Club | June Unboxing
*We were sent this box in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here

What a wonderful box this month! June's theme was "Grief" and we absolutely loved every single item included. Along with the book and stationary, we were delighted to see a perfect pack of bookmarks from Obvious State (a favorite of ours!), the cutest library card notepad, tea from our very favorite tea brand, and a candle! Every single item was just perfectly on point; we will be using everything, which is sometimes rare for subscription boxes. 


You can see our April box right here (that one was especially wonderful), and May's as well. It looks like July's theme will be Love and we are so excited to see what they come up with!

Thank you so much, Deep Readers Club for this fantastic gift! We were absolutely thrilled to explore the contents and see, first hand, the thoughtfulness and care put into it. 


If this looks like something you'd be interested in receiving for yourself, or maybe even gifting to a book lover in your life, Deep Readers Club is offering our readers 15% off any order with the code ARDENTBIBLIO15

Do you have a favorite subscription box?

Cheers to the Weekend 7.6.18
*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support!

Happy Friday, friends! This week completely blew past both of us. Rikki started fresh classes for her Master's degree and I've been visiting my grandmother in Montana. So between school, work, family obligations, a holiday, and kids home for the summer this week has kicked our butts. Did you all have a good 4th of July? Rikki was home in Washington with her family and I was doing Montana-y things like a small town parade, and rodeo, and watching fireworks from the town library's lawn. We're both looking forward to being back together next week and we have two new dinner parties in the works!


Around the Web

Literary one hit wonders. I've actually read most of these, but a couple of them were new finds!

An extremely timely interview, considering my current location in the world, and with an author I've recently been raving about. 

Have you seen the new BBC adaptation of Little Women yet? I loved this review

And speaking of adaptations, what do you guys think about this one?



Hailey has a beautifully curated and colorful lifestyle feed that we just can't get enough of

Equal parts styling and lifestyle vibes featuring some of our favorite books

Kate's country bookish life is worth swooning over plus her truly entertaining selection of books


What We're Reading

Michaela - I'm about halfway through Cannery Row, and slowly working my way through Spinning Silver as well (thanks for gifting us an early copy, Random House!). I've been in Montana this past week visiting my grandmother and reading has taken a backseat to family stuff, which is fine, but I'm looking forward to finishing these off when I get home this weekend.

Rikki - I recently decided to reset my "currently reading" pile because I was not feeling it. I'll return to those again another time. I did finish The Astonishing Color of After and absolutely LOVED it. I'm about a third of the way through Cannery Row and enjoying being in Steinbeck's world again. Lastly, I've picked up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! I'm getting there!

Wrap Up | June 2018


A Closed and Common Orbit | Becky Chambers- Ahhhh it feels so good to be back enveloped in Chamber's warm, delightful worlds. Her novels are the absolute best place to put my brain; they're just so comfortable. I don't know how she does it, but I'm so so glad that she does. She has the same knack that JK Rowling does for imbuing her world with a lot of interesting detail without beating you over the head with lengthy descriptions. It's magic, and I can't recommend her books enough. This one was a very different plot than The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, though no less powerful. Frankly I did enjoy Long Way's plot a bit better, but the plot is sort of beside the point with these books. Regardless, I can't waaaiiitttt to read the third one this summer!

Amulet | Kazu Kibuishi- This is a middle grade graphic novel, and while I like a lot of those, this one was a bit too straightforward, albeit beautiful! If you have a kid at the right age, I could see them loving this, but it wasn't something I'm particularly interested in continuing. 

Lumberjanes | Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters- This was pretty much like an episode of Adventure Time, but with badass lady friends. Hilarious and absurd, it definitely kept me laughing.

Eeeee Eee Eeee | Tao Lin- I read this at my brother's request (it's a favorite of his) and while I understood what it was doing, and it did it well, it was not for me. This falls under Auden's category of "I can see this is good, but I don't like it". If you want to bend your brain a little and put it in a weirdly specific mood, try it out. I do see why my brother specifically loves it, so it was a worthwhile read in that sense. One of the coolest things about a reader's favorite books is you see so much of them reflected in what they love. 

Less | Andrew Greer- Like everyone else, I read this because it won a Pulitzer. I wasn't sure what to expect, and honestly my first thought was "I hope this isn't a pretentious version of Eat, Pray Love", but what I found was warm and clever, with writing that felt effortless, but was playful and funny and layered. The love story in this was really unique and well done, and THAT ENDING. Ugh so lovely; I completely understand why this was Pulitzer worthy. 

Swimmer Among the Stars | Kanishk Tharoor- This collection sort of blew my mind. It took me a long time to finish because I would read a story and then sit and savor it for a while, sometimes for days, before moving on to another. I really loved the writing, and every story has at least one really thought provoking element or twist. A couple of these completely took my breath away, sometimes in the very last sentence. Worthwhile if you're in the mood for some beautiful, but heavier short stories. 

DNF: The Merry Spinster. Thoroughly mediocre in every way. I'm on a mission to not read forgettable books, and this just wasn't worth it for me. 



Homegoing | Yaa GyasiThis book was AMAZING. One of the most powerful, timeless, incredible pieces of literature I've had the pleasure of reading. Spanning generations of two families from Africa to America and back, and the harsh reality and truth of African culture and life in the 19th century to 20th, this book is sweeping, emotional, and yet, you cannot turn away. During an interview, Gyasi said she had visited Ghana and decided to tell an untold story that didn't have faces and names, and she felt compelled to tell a version of their story.

This One Summer | Mariko and Jillian TamakiFor book club this month and one of M's favorite graphic novels, I really enjoyed this shift in what I was reading and explore something different. The artwork is incredible and I really loved "figuring out" a relatively heavy story between words and images. And I say "figuring out," because it takes equal parts visual attention to the artwork as well as what you're reading to get a full, rounded perception of the story.

Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard ThamesAn impulsive read I was sure I'd skim through, but I actually enjoyed it from cover to cover. It's a bold, yet inspiring reminder to live life within your means and how to cut down on useless material things. The older I get, the more I appreciate things like this. Their family is on Instagram and so fun to see their story come to life through photos of life on the farm.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Mary Ann Schaffer - A reread for me, because I am so anxious and excited to see the movie! I still love it as much as the first time I read it. One of my all time favorites.

Beartown | Fredrik BackmanI hadn't gotten to fully read all of Beartown before, because library due dates had this book in constant rotation. I finally took my time on each and every page, and this book is so good. Backman's writing is phenomenal, the story is second to that, and worth the time to slowly work through, appreciating all of his words and layers of creativity.

The Wonder | Emma DonoghueI was SO curious about this book, and finally read it through. It was painfully slow for me, a constant build to the mystery of the story, which is revealed at the TAIL END of the book. It is well written and detailed, but kind of weird. I kept wondering how on earth this story had formulated for the author, being so packed with minuscule details.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb | Jackie YeagerA buddy read with my oldest, it took me a while to get through because I kept pushing it down the pile. It's a fun, creative story that is solidly for middle grade kids. It's a futuristic, yet relatable, story of five kids competing in an invention contest to get into a sought-after school. My kid loved it and it was great to talk about, so that's a win for me.

The Help | Kathryn StockettWhat a great story! I am so happy to have finally read this. It's a courageous and honestly bold portrayal of life in the south in the '60s. It's not easy for those who might be sensitive to racism during that time. Yet, it's well done. I researched the background of this book and was surprised to learn that Stockett actually took inspiration for the main help from a real life maid in her family, and was sued for not respecting her anonymity. How ironic.

Cheers to the Weekend 6.29.18
*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support!

It's somehow already the last weekend in June, and did this month completely escape anyone else? We're enjoying hiking and kayaking and eating outside; basically soaking up all our favorite outdoor activities. Definitely looking forward to more beach time, family BBQ's, and of course, summer literary dinner parties as the June gloom recedes and summer gets into full swing, too!

I'm headed to Montana this weekend to visit my grandmother; it's become a kind of family tradition to spend 4th of July in her small town watching their parade, going to rodeo, and ending the night on the lawn of the local library gazing up at the fireworks. I put out a call for road trip buddy read recommendations on this post if you happen to know a book that will please my super picky brother while not boring me to death, because our reading styles are verrrrryyy different. What are you guys up to this weekend? 


Around the Web

A lovely article of a bookstore in Scotland and what it was like running the shop for one day. So dreamy.

Forget books set in New York, try some of these from Michaela's home town!

We never get tired of reading about people curate their home libraries  or of tips for our own.

Some unconventional summer reading guides for the anti-beach read. We LOVE this list!

A seriously impressive list of one of my very favorite book formats.



A beautiful bookish life in London with mellow tones and all the books you can't resist.

My two passions combined, the farm life and love of books is beautifully documented in Helen's feed.

Erica's new feed is a lively combination of real life, good food, and .


What We're Reading

Michaela - I finally polished off the rest of Swimmer Among the Stars, which was SUCH a good story collection; heart eyes forever on that one, and am hoping to finish Cannery Row tonight before I leave on my road trip to Montana. I'm taking the most page turnery books I own with me on vacation: Spinning Silver, Circe, What We Were Promised, and Social Creature. Too many for just a week? Probably, but I don't mind!

Rikki - I recently finished The Help, and couldn't put it down. I admire the courage it took to write that book and the honest portrayal of life during that time in that location, and the movie was excellent to follow up with. I am just picking up our newest buddy read, Cannery Row, and can't wait for some time to dive in! Lastly, I've also started Michaela's favorite, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.