Me: I’ll have a dark peppermint eggnog sugar plum Christmas cookie mocha with three pumps of gingerbread, plz! Don’t forget the marshmallows!
This is also my second annual Booksgiving post, in which I give a shout-out to my home library.
This time, the prompts are going to be simpler, yet also up to wider interpretation. It’s just the drink names (some from actual menus, some made up) — what they mean, bookishly speaking, is up to you!
Pumpkin Pie Latte
Of course I’m not forgetting Thanksgiving! That’s what this post is all about, after all! Three Crowns Coffee in Warsaw, Indiana, believes that “seasonal drinks need to be available during the proper season,” and fair enough!
So. Here is a book that is very season-specific:
I got this in one of those ebay book lots and read it right before the @svhpodcast episode back in April. The Twins do an exchange trip to the South of France where they scream in ecstacy over a city map (the cover is basically all of us once we take our first post-COVID trips), meet an obnoxious a$$hole with a tragic backstory, chat up a nice countess (ofc they do) who owns a vineyard and a hot young grandson, and almost drown while exploring a charming semi-secluded island in a storm.
Hang on. I’m pretty sure they stole that last bit from Once in California. Totally-Not-Lila-Fowler-on-the-cover must be furious!
Peppermint Gingerbread Mocha
But can you blame me for wanting to stretch the holly jolly for as long as possible? Yes, I did in fact ask for a half-pump of gingerbread in my peppermint mocha and I regret nothing! Nothing!!!
Anyhoo, I’m pairing this with a book that really leans into its subject matter like it’s daring readers to judge.
One more shout-out to Steve Berman’s anthology of queer fairy tales (reviewed here, here, and here). These stories are unabashedly “fey,” in Berman’s sense of the word — the couples are all same-sex with a heavy emphasis on the sex. Sometimes the latter is even a plot point, in stories where human/fae relations are discouraged or forbidden.
A number of the fae characters have issues understanding full consent, but most of them learn better by the end. Only a few are truly Unseelie, and they’re very clearly not the love interests.
Ultimate Caramel Hot Chocolate
Ok, even I have my sugar limits, but I can respect a drink that caters to those moments when you just can’t decide between two indulgences. Carpe diem, right? Go for both!
So here are two books I simply could not choose between if I needed to pack for an extended desert island vacation.
I’ll keep saying it until the hills are no longer hollow (and probably long after that): Sylvia Peck’s Seal Child and Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Changeling are my strongest storytelling influences, with their focus on best friendships between two awkward/eccentric girls from “different worlds” — fae and human, privileged and outcast, structured and wild.
Seal Child introduced me to Selkies and The Changeling is basically an ode to everlasting childhood and wild LARPing.
I’m picturing a chai frappe or a spiced soft-serve concoction with ginger crystals and shredded coconut. Something bitingly cold, but with hints of spicy warmth to keep you going.
Here’s a book with a chilly tone or tough subject matter or a harsh setting that still manages to keep me hopeful.
I was lucky enough to meet the editor, Violeta Kelertas, when I was in high school. These are subversive stories written during the final twenty years of Soviet occupation. The general mood, as I remember it, is stark but hopeful realism (definitely need to give this a re-read).
My post-independence p.o.v. gives these stories an even brighter filter, turning them into prologues or prequels to new tales of Olympic medals, NATO and EU membership, a booming tech industry, legendary EuroVision shenanigans, centennial and millenial music festivals, and women taking the highest offices in the land.
The name makes me think of icicles in the sun, snowflakes sparkling like dew when they land, and the aurora borealis — all the eerily silent beauty of winter in cold climates.
Here’s a book in which the art tells the story as, if not more, expressively than the text.
My Toby senses were totally tingling at every mention of Coblynau and Daoine Sidhe and the Gwragedd Annwn.
A Coffee With Friends Dark Roast described as smoky and cozy, reminiscent of off-grid nights with close friends and crackling fires.
Here’s a book for days spent coccooned in your warmest reindeer PJs when the weather outside is too frightful for anything else.
This one’s been on my Kindle for a while and I somehow haven’t gotten to it?? It’s an Irish fantasy romance about a woman who escapes her abusive husband, settling on an island where the locals insist she’s descended from Selkies. And there’s an old-timey Selkie spirit haunting the island for mysterious reasons.
Actually, I did sample the first chapter, now that I think of it, and I remember a classic hate-to-love romance set-up with a gruff pub owner who thinks the protagonist looks too much like his estranged ex or something. And also there’s cooking shenanigans.
What the shell has taken me so long??
Maple Chai Latte
Ok, again, it is still technically Autumn and I do hope Crescendo Coffee doesn’t ditch this drink too soon. It sounds like such a hygge, front-porch-on-a-fall-morning meditation aid.
Here’s another cozy book that’s perfect for front porch reading.
I apparently also have a Jane Austen omnibus on my Kindle that I bought to feel like a proper literature nerd, but come to think of it, a re-read of Northanger Abbey or a first-time read of Love and Freindship [sic] sounds quite lovely.
Green and Red Eye Latte
Imagine a typical red eye — a regular coffee with a shot of espresso — but with steamed milk, whipped cream and broken Andes Mint pieces on top.
Sometimes you need an extra boost — something really uplifting and/or fast paced to combat the winter blues or post-holiday blahs.
When in doubt, enter the Kate Beaton comic-verse and stare at goofy drawings of Napoleon or make totally tasteful (insert stage wink) jokes about the French Revolution. Also, Old Timey Gangsters!
Caramel Apple Cider
A Utopian Cafe drink I could see myself sipping on a snowy day as I walk along the river path in Promenade Park.
I’m thinking of a book that’s sweet and tart, delightfully snarky, a self-deprecating bedtime story.
I’m thinking, of course, of Patricia Wrede’s Dealing With Dragons (reviewed here) the hardcover edition of which I was delighted to find at Half-Price Books recently.
This is one of two exceptions to my local coffee house theme. The Coffee Emporium in Cincinnati is a family favorite and their caramel-and-butterscotch-flavored Winter Solstice Blend is a year-round hit.
The following book is also a multi-seasonal treat.
A gift from about my middle or high-school era, this is a collection of classic fiction and poetry organized by season. My favorite is still the mythically nostalgic “The Splendor Falls,” by Alfred Tennyson.
This is the second exception. Longtime Bookwyrms will know that Colectivo Coffee Roasters, and their Milwaukee lakefront branch in particular, are my favorite coffee houses ever. I would absolutely do a road trip just to spend a day at the repurposed water station.
That said, I’ve never actually tried their holiday blends, Snow Day and Starry Night. Perhaps that will change this year; I’m certainly hearing the siren song of the light roast’s raspberry, orange, green apple, chocolate and floral notes.
Here is another setting I will gladly return to over and over again, forever.
That setting being 1997. The year of Purple Moon and California Diaries and Netscape Navigator and Smackers lip balm and… Psycho Lights? 😂 Actually, that funky stained-glass-window-style lightbulb is totally da bomb!
KrupniCoffee Night Cap
This is the second year, sadly, that we do not have Lithuanian honey mead in the house. But someday soon, when a trip to Chicago is once again possible, I know I’ll be giving my evening decaf an extra sweet ‘n spicy kick.
This book was a recent gift from my godmother, who knows how much I love faery and folktales.
It’s a collection of Lithuanian stories translated into English. Some you may recognize if you’re familiar with the Grimm universe and other European fairy tales, others are uniquely Lithuanian, all complemented by surreal, semi-abstract paintings by Irena Žviliuvienė.
What about you, Bookwyrms? What home library gems would you add to this list? Any unread titles calling you with particular insistence?
Featured image is a PicsArt-edited photo of the Mocha Lounge’s holiday drink menu.
Christmas Coffee GIF from tenor.