Summer is a time for outdoor gatherings—barbecues, picnics, backyard parties—and we know that such events can so easily go wrong. What’s better than learning from your own mistakes? Learning from someone else’s. Here are eight novels with memorable party scenes and “Do and Don’t” tips that will make you the host with the most.
DO: Find yourself at a beach club party at sunset.
DON’T: Avoid your wife at your cousin’s wedding and then leave with one of the waitresses after having too much to drink.
DO: Surprise your party guests with an array of unexpected foods like roasted hog, struklji (cheese strudel), and cremeschnitte (vanilla and custard cream cake).
DON’T: Surprise a friend with a massive and personal proposition right before heading to a party.
DO: Hire musicians to accompany the crowd on your waxed and polished dance floor.
DON’T: Accept a proposal just to make someone jealous.
The Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are both masterworks of imaginative literature that have been thrillingly translated to the screen, but for my taste, I’ll go with Gone with the Wind. Like the Stark family and the residents of Hogwarts, Scarlett and Rhett are such vivid characters on the page that you can’t imagine them being portrayed adequately on film—until suddenly, there they are, each work only enhancing your enjoyment of the other.
DO: Attempt to tell your 16-year-old daughter and her friends to party responsibly.
DON’T: Be the cool dad and give said daughter and her friends a bottle of champagne for her birthday. Especially when your wife has mixed wine and sedatives and will likely sleep heavily through any emergency situations.
Read the full review of THE PARTY.
DO: Construct a “life-size effigy of a swan, molded in ice and filled with caviar” as a party centerpiece. You can certainly get creative on how best to scoop out your fancy fish eggs.
DON’T: Bring a bottle of wine or champagne to your bathtub and throw yourself a solo party.
Read the full review of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.
Evelyn Waugh’s delicious coming-of-age tale of star-crossed lovers and sexually ambiguous pretty boys drinking their way through guilt trips over religion and lost love provided an admittedly romantic backdrop to my own rocky adolescent journey to adulthood.
DO: Throw a harvest party in wine country and invite some “Cork Dorks” winemakers to help you sample wine straight from the barrel.
DON’T: Crash a wedding and not expect to get punched in the face by the groom.
Read the full review of EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES.
EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES is escapist reading at its best because not only are there sun-dappled fields to picture, a dashing neighbor vying for Georgia’s attention, and behind-the-scenes winemaking (author Laura Dave took her wine research seriously!), there is also real heart.
DO: Judge a host by their library. If the bookshelves reach the ceiling and the books are all real, you know you’re in for a great night.
DON’T: Fail to recognize your host, especially if you’re already engaged in conversation with him and have begun talking about the man behind the evening’s spectacle. On second thought, ask to be introduced to your host as soon as you arrive at the party to be safe, and maybe don’t listen to any wild speculation about men they may or may not have killed.
Some consider it “the great American novel.” The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.
Read the full review here.
DO: Attract a crowd by inviting recognizable faces; consider Prime Ministers and Lords.
DON’T: Overcrowd the party so there’s no room for dancing. Bonus—don’t maintain an inner dialogue of conflicted feelings while you’re hosting, parties are fun!