Summer Book Flights

Ever had a tasting flight of something, probably at a brewery or restaurant? Wine, beer, spirits, maybe even cheese? Basically the concept is you get several different portions of something, and taste them all back to back. By tasting them together, you really get a feel for their differences and are better able to pinpoint nuanced tasting notes in each individual one, while appreciating them together as a whole. This usually enhances the experience of tasting, and elevates your observation of the distinctness of flavors and awareness of how they work together to give you a fuller view of the range in flavor.

Books can do the same thing; by reading a group of books together it can really expand the depth and breadth of a topic for you, and broaden the scope of your view on a subject. This can be as straightforward as reading all of a specific author's works, or choosing a really niche area, like Beat Poets, but it also works well in plenty of other varied combinations. 

This summer (you can see spring here!) I started thinking (inspired by Anne!) about all the moods the season inspires and how to create book flights to cater to them, and these are what I came up with. The groupings are designed to have books that are fabulous on their own, but combined really give a lush, broad view of a subject. The dynamic interplay between books set around a central theme is the sweet spot!

A Year Abroad

  • My Life in France | Julia Child
  • A Year in Provence | Peter Mayle
  • The Year of Living Danishly | Helen Russell

Warmer weather always has me dreaming about my summers spent traveling both within the US and in Europe, and since I can't go abroad this summer the next best thing is to live vicariously through someone else. Start with My Life in France, the warm, beautiful memoir of Julia Child and see how her move to France changed her entire life as she discovered cooking and set off on the path to celebrity. Move South to Provence next, and spend a year with Peter Mayle as he discovers the rhythm of the seasons and beauty of the region. Next head to the happiest country in the world and join the lighthearted account of Russell's move to Denmark and her observations about Danish society. 

Behind the scenes Restaurant Life

  • Delancey | Molly Wizenberg
  • Cork Dork | Bianca Bosker
  • Sweetbitter | Stephanie Danler

Does summer make you want to live on a restaurant patio, drink in hand? Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in that restaurant while you sip your crisp glass of rosé or ice cold cocktail? Start with Delancey to learn about how one couple opened a pizza restaurant right here in Seattle, and all the triumphs and heartache that came with bringing their restaurant dream to life. Move on to Cork Dork to get a feel for what sommeliers (the wine professional who curated the wine list at the restaurant you're at, and probably recommended that glass of rosé you're holding) have to go through to be successful in their field and gain some real appreciation for wine in a no-bullshit, hilarious format. End with Sweetbitter, a fun, slightly dark, fictional (but based on real experience!) account of what it's like to work in a restaurant.

Good Old Fashioned Adventure

  • The Three Musketeers | Alexandre Dumas
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora | Scott Lynch
  • The Name of the Wind | Patrick Rothfuss

Start with a classic of the genre, The Three Musketeers and follow the swashbuckling adventures and various romantic exploits of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis along with D'Artagnan as they defend the honor of their Queen against villains and power struggles in 17th century France. Continue on to  The Lies of Locke Lamora, a sort of Ocean's Eleven-Robin Hood- The Godfather hybrid and acquaint yourself with the "Gentleman Bastards". Set in a sort of fantasy Middle Ages, join their adventures in heists, mob bosses, thievery, and all the witty banter you could ever want. Finish up with a slower burn adventure story, that of the mysterious Kvothe and follow from his humble beginnings, through his education in an ancient and renowned school of magic, and through his rise to become the world's most powerful and infamous wizard in The Name of the Wind.

Glittering Society Without the Fluff

  • The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Age of Innocence | Edith Wharton
  • Mrs. Dalloway | Virginia Woolf

If you dream of being in the Hamptons for the summer, or on your own private yacht, but don't like fluff novels, go ahead and let these three books rip your heart out while you're standing dazzled by the glittering society they revel in. Set the tone with The Age of Innocence and let the satirical voice of Edith Wharton bite into you as she shows off high society of the Gilded Age during the 1870's. Move on to Fitzgerald's magical writing in The Great Gatsby, a classic of American literature and as full of  1920's glamour and opulence as it is heart achingly beautiful nostalgia. Finish with slim Mrs. Dalloway, a much more experimental style, and follow the inner life of high society figure Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party one day. Expect plenty of wistful feelings for "the one that got away" and the thunderous echoes that reverberate in the hollowness of parties. 

Do you have any books you think pair well together? We'd love to hear!!