New books matched to winter bevvies
Winter is well and truly here, and what better way to spend the long, dark nights than kicking back with a good book with a delicious drink. We’ve paired some favourite new books with their ideal liquid partners.
Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin
It’s winter in Melbourne and Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk. When Natale Gibson goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for – the woman’s husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched. But things aren’t all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets, and none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding.
Pairs perfectly with an espresso martini.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three unforgettable characters whose lives are changed forever when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack. Taut, propulsive and electrifying, from its opening lines to its astonishing finale, this novel asks us to consider what it means to nurture big ambitions in a country hurtling towards political extremism.
Take a shot of chili-infused vodka with this book.
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?
Read with a hot toddy (with Southern Comfort).
Smart Ovens for Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan
Conspiracies, memes, and therapies of various efficacy underpin this beguiling short-story collection. In the titular story, a cat-shaped oven tells a depressed woman she doesn’t have to be sorry anymore. A Yourtopia Bespoke Terraria employee becomes paranoid about the mounting coincidences in her life. Four girls gather to celebrate their underwear in ‘Happy Smiling Underwear Girls Party’, a hilarious take-down of saccharine advertisements. With her trademark wit and slicing social commentary, Elizabeth Tan’s short stories are as funny as they are insightful.
These quirky stories need an equally quirky drink – a roasted plum martini.
This Happy by Niamh Campbell
When Alannah was 23, she met a married man, who was older than her, and fell in love. Things happened suddenly. They met in April, in the first bit of mild weather; and in August, they went to stay in rural Ireland, overseen by the cottage’s landlady. Six years later, when Alannah is newly married to another man, she sees the landlady from afar. Memories of those days spent in bliss, then torture, return to her.
Best enjoyed with a strong, hot cup of tea.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Here, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together. Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.
Enjoy this book with a cup of local herbal tea – lemon myrtle, roasted wattle, or jilungin.
How to be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt
When Ashley persuades her new husband Steve to leave snowy Canada and join her for a year Down Under, she looks forward to an easy transition. But they soon discover things aren’t so simple. Steve struggles to settle and Ashley fears he will come to regret both the move and the marriage. Baffled, homesick and increasingly anxious, she is preparing to return to Canada when Steve shockingly announces that he wants to stay in Australia. Forever. How to be Australian is a remarkable memoir that shines a fresh, funny and fascinating light onto the country we think we know.
Pairs nicely with a glass of savvy blanc.
Mammoth by Chris Flynn
Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan. Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, this book traverses time and place to reveal humanity’s role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.
Enjoy this book with a perfectly-aged cup of pu’er tea.
The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott
Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading-and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt - as myths merge with reality - both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.
Read with a warming, spicy mulled wine in hand.