There are a lot of great things about holiday parties: cookies, presents, drinks, friends & family, drinks, decorations, food, and did I mention, drinks?  If you’re considering shaking things up and trying a new drink, we have a wide range of books to wet your whistle.

Here are a few of my favorites  (visit the reference desk for additional suggestions!):

cocktails for a crowdCocktails for a crowd : more than 40 recipes 
for making popular drinks in 
party-pleasing batches by Kara Newman is a great go-to for people with a long guest list.  From punches to drinks served with an umbrella, this book covers its bases well.  Featuring beautiful photography, easy to follow directions, tips from bartenders, and a modern aesthetic, this is a great resource all year long.

tequila mockingbirdTequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle is a pun heavy book of drink recipes.  While the drinks may not be revolutionary, the names breathe new life into old standards.  Who could pass up a “Are You There God?  It’s me, Margarita.” or a “Brave New Swirled”?  Federle includes some bar tip staples, a few non-alcholoic drinks featuring familiar names from children’s literature (“Charlie and the Chocolate Fake-tini”), and bar bites like “The Develed Egg Wears Prada”.

drunken botanist

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks
by Amy Stewart has been on a number of best non-fiction book lists this year.  Part history, part science, and part cookbook, The Drunken Botanist is an examination of how humans created the drinks that we consume today.  With over fifty recipes and growing tips for libation minded gardeners, this is a great choice if you want to share some trivia along side your cocktail.

More than 30 projects inspired by classic literature Literary Knits features 30 knitting patterns inspired by beloved characters from classic books; from Pride and Prejudice to Moby Dick, The Catcher in the Rye to The Chronicles of Narnia – and many more in between.

Inspired by some of the most beloved characters from favorite books, including an elegant Daisy Cloche inspired by The Great Gatsby and a late ′50s-inspired Holly Golightly Dress imagined from Breakfast at Tiffany′s, the more than 30 knitting projects in this unique collection will inspire knitters and book lovers alike. Each knitting pattern includes precise instruction and robust information on yarn selection and substitution. Beautiful photography throughout offers ideas and inspiration for all ages and skill levels, including supporting photos for tricky or less commonly-known techniques, while diagrams, assembly instructions, and schematic illustrations ease completion of each project with a generous mix of knitting patterns for women, men, and kids.

If you′re a book lover who knits, or a knitter with an appreciation for vintage patterns, Literary Knits is a timeless collection of one-of-a-kind knitting projects. (description from publisher)

In honor of Banned Books Week, which lasts until October sixth, I’m revisiting my favorite banned book: Beloved by Toni Morrison. I first read this masterpiece in a high school English course; it’s dense and lyrical and moving. The story is based on a real-life tragedy: an escaped slave woman who murdered her own children to stop her owner from recapturing them. That woman is Sethe, and her life story is one of mingled despair and hope, tragedy and good luck. The narrative is touched by the supernatural: the spirit of Sethe’s murdered baby, whose headstone only reads Beloved, has haunted her house ever since her death. 20 years later, when a pretty 20 year old girl turns up on Sethe’s front step knowing things only a family member could know, it’s unclear what her intentions and her identity really are.

Sethe’s story is magical and moving. It’s been banned or challenged for containing offensive language, explicit sexuality, and being “unsuited to age group,” according to the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books. When I read this novel as a teenager, I wasn’t scarred, offended, or damaged: Morrison’s book was, instead, eye-opening and moving. It made me more interested in literature and in history, and it gave my class fodder for discussions that improved our understanding of reading and the way it impacts real life. I hope you’ll check it out: you won’t be disappointed.

To learn more about this book, censorship, and Banned Books Week, check out the ALA Banned Books Week website.

Webcomics collected for the printed page rarely hang together as cohesive singular works, and this book is no exception. They also rarely deliver a consistent laughs-per-page number or manage to be as fresh on page 50 as they are on page 1; and for these, Hark! A Vagrant is indeed an exception. Kate Beaton’s comic is very funny and accessible; she pokes fun at various literary and historical figures (both infamous and obscure), in addition to hipsters and teenagers and even superheroes. If you like smarmy, witty, smart comedy and drawings that range from the moody and surreal to the supremely cute, this book is a great choice!

Since the humor is hard to describe, just check out this comic. If you like humor about 200 year old inventors or have a soft spot for Tesla…


For more awesome, check out Kate Beaton’s comics at their original home:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde fits into a lot of different genres:  it’s a little bit sci-fi, literary fiction, humor and thriller.  In an alternate 1985 in England, Thursday Next is a LiteraTec working to solve literary crimes (typically small-time stuff like copyright infringement).  But her career takes a more drastic turn when criminal mastermind Acheron Hades steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.    And so begins a game of cat and mouse between Thursday and Acheron in which she is constantly escaping death, though just barely.  Things take a turn when a character goes missing from Dickens’ novel:  it turns out that Thursday’s uncle has created a device that allows a person to jump into a literary work, and Acheron has found the device and kidnapped the character, changing the whole story.  And if his demands aren’t met, Acheron will take things to the next level and do the same to the beloved Jane Eyre herself, removing her from her classic novel and thus changing the face of classic literature forever.

It took me a while to really get into this book, but once Acheron has made the threat on Jane Eyre, it gets hard to put down (especially for a Jane Eyre fan!).  This is a very unique book, especially with the alternate history that is involved; it’s not the world that we know today, and this includes the ending to Jane Eyre itself.  If you’re into the classics and enjoy a little bit of a sci-fi edge to your books, I recommend picking up this book.