Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meme: Coffee & Book Pairings

Memes don't seem to be as popular these days. In the old days of LiveJournal's heyday, new memes cropped up every day. So I was excited to this bookish coffee meme. Here are my coffee/tea and book pairings.

Black Drip: A series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans

Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond series have legions of fans but the bar for entry is rather high. I found that I couldn't get into it, the first time I tried reading it, because there are a lot of references to books, people, and events about which I knew nothing. Then I tried listening to it, but the cast of characters is so large, it was confusing at times to know who was saying what. So then I went with a three-prong approach: I got a companion guide to explain all the references, listened to the audio for the characterization, and read the book to put it all together. What a rewarding way to read The Game of Kings. After this, it made the rest of the Lymond series go easier.

Peppermint Mocha: A book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year

Romance novels are always popular in February. Romances during Christmastimes are always popular during December. Beach romances are popular in the summer. For me, it's organizational or motivational books in January. This year's book was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Hot chocolate: Favorite children’s book

I loved the first book of a series by Maud Hart Lovelace called Betsy Tacy. Such an engrossing book about girlish friendships. Every girl dreams of having a close friend like this living in her neighborhood, going to the same school, and sharing a close friendship where they share virtually everything.

Double shot of espresso: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish

The Cuckoo's Calling was an exciting start to a mystery series by JK Rowling's pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The characterization was detailed and real as was the mystery.

Starbucks: A book you see everywhere

If I see a book everywhere, I rarely read it right then. Ennui sets in and I'm afraid the book will never meet all the expectations raised in me by all the comments and reviews and word-of-mouth praises. In spite of these reservations, I read Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me. And every word of praise and all the awards fell short of reality. It was my best book of 2015.

That hipster coffee shop: A book by an indie author

Last year, I read a funky nonfiction-fiction memoir The Travelling Parsi self-published by Kamal Sunavala. It's a real account of life among the Parsis, India's ancient Zoroastrian community. It was laugh-out-loud funny in parts, eye-rolling in some, and merely angsty and ridiculous in some. Thoroughly entertaining.

Oops! I accidentally got decaf: A book you were expecting more from

With a title Secret of the Templars, who wouldn't expect great historical adventure and mystery? Well, the book as written by Paul Christopher was false advertising where the Templars made nary an appearance except for one reference in passing. And far from being an engrossing intricate mystery, it was a thriller where characters showed up on page merely to die a few pages later; no one's life was sacrosanct; and not much happens after all.

The perfect blend: A book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande about the state of geriatric medicine was a terrible thing to read. That is what awaits every one of us unless something miraculously changes about how the medical world and society at large views old age. This was such an important book to me and what made it accessible and eminently readable was Gawande's elegant prose and storytelling skills.

Green Tea: A book or series that is quietly beautiful

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson immediately comes to mind. It's a sorrowful book about childhoods rent by racism but it's also about hope and about the triumph of the spirit. And it's written in gorgeously lyrical prose. I read it slowly, luxuriating in the words and word paintings.

Earl Grey: A favorite classic

Gosh, so hard to narrow it down to just one. Austen's Pride & Prejudice is too easy a choice. Instead, I'm going to go with a book I loved as a kid: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Chai tea: A book or series that makes you dream of far off places

I'll again reach back into my childhood for books by the beloved British author Enid Blyton. I loved all her books, especially her magical ones where the children met all kinds of fairy folk and went on all kinds of adventures. Such fun derring-do. But the best part of all of Blyton's books were the depictions of typical British homes, foods, rituals, and customs. As a child, I dreamed of going to be there on that green isle and living those lives.