Novels and Warm Drinks
A warm drink and a good novel go hand in hand. A cup of coffee is great. A book is great. Enjoying a cup of coffee while reading a book is top notch. It is one of those combinations that is more than the sum of its parts.
The type of book I am reading plays a role in what type of drink I might be enjoying that day. Some books put me in the mood for something light and refreshing, like iced green tea. Other books seem more appropriate to enjoy with something with a bit more kick, like a strong cup of dark coffee.
As mentioned in my first post, my first real experiences with warm drinks was drinking sugar-sweet cups of tea while reading through the Harry Potter series. I now associate warm drinks with novels. They both hold a special place in my heart.
As far as my reading habit go, the amount I read often fluctuates. I can go from reading 3-4 books a month to reading nothing besides emails for a few months. I have always tried to pinpoint what causes these changes in my reading, but have never been able to put my finger on it.
Before I made the move from California to Florida, I promised myself I would get back in the habit of reading daily. Having a wide assortment of teas and coffees to choose from has helped tremendously in this. Preparing a warm drink has become a key part of my reading ritual.
The first couple books I attempted to read while in Florida were classic novels that have always felt daunting to me. We were still waiting for our possessions to show up on the moving truck, so the only thing I had as far as entertainment was my kindle. Since I did not have any distractions (or furniture for that matter) I thought that this might be the right time to tackle some of these older novels that have intimidated me for years.
I started with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I enjoyed steamy cups of black tea while reading this, it seemed appropriate with this story, especially with it beginning and ending with descriptions of captain Walton's exploration of the north pole. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I looked forward to my cup of black tea each evening.
I had an amazing time with this story. Frankenstein and his monster are such a huge part of pop culture that I never felt the need to read the source material. When I think of Frankenstein, I think of Boris Karloff, electrodes sticking out of his neck, lumbering forward while moaning unintelligibly. I was surprised when Frankenstein's monster started speaking and expressing his existential dread brought on by his desire to be loved and accepted.
The next one I attempted to read was Dracula. This novel started off in a manner which immediately had me hooked. The gothic atmosphere had me making cups of strong black coffee. They seemed to mesh very well together and the coffee fueled some late night reading sessions.
Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall with this one. Once the setting moved outside of Dracula's castle it completely lost me. As soon as I started reading of Mina and Lucy, I could feel my attention span shorten. I tried to push on, but found myself paying more attention to my cup of coffee than the pages. I am going to give this another attempt come Halloween time.
Once I realized I was not going to finish Dracula, I felt a bit discouraged. I needed a palate cleanser. I decided to pick up my copy of Duma Key. What better way to spend my first month in Florida than reading a novel that takes place there?
I read this book years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember thinking that it suffered from a bland ending, but it is a Stephen King novel. It is not often I finish one of his books and say "wow... that ending was satisfying."
While reading Duma Key, I was enjoying iced green tea with extra lemon and ice. A refreshing drink that complemented the warm feel of the fictional Florida Key where the story takes place. One of the characters, Wireman, is easily one of my favorite characters from a King Story. He drinks tall glasses of iced green tea throughout the story, so it was only natural to want a glass myself.
Once I finished Duma Key, I read some random short stories from a few collections I had been meaning to finish. I usually enjoy English breakfast tea with a splash of almond milk when I read shorts. A nice strong cup of tea goes well with the bite sized stories in each collection.
The most recent novel I have completed was John Steinbeck's East of Eden. This has been one of my favorite reading experiences in the last few years. A medium roast coffee with a touch of creamer was my main drink of choice while devouring this book.
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Steinbeck's childhood home and the national Steinbeck center with a close friend of mine a few years back on our way up to San Francisco. This made the reading that much more impactful; my mind's eye was clear for this story.
I can see why some of his work is required reading at some schools, I had to take frequent breaks just to digest a single line of dialogue. This is a book I know I will want to revisit in the coming years.
When I get to the home stretch of a novel, I always feel an excited anticipation for what I am going to read next. Looking at my bookshelf and deciding what book I will pick up next gives me a feeling akin to the excitement experienced by a kid trying (and failing) to sleep on Christmas eve.
Once you hit the point in your life where you are giving more presents than you receiving, that feeling can start to fade. One day it may even peter out completely. I have been extremely lucky to be able to hold on to a piece of that magic throughout my adult life. It is something I cherish.
Since I initially wrote this post, I have been keeping a solid pace when it comes to my reading! I will follow up with another post somewhere down the line with a list of some of my favorite books I have completed over the last year.