Just as the leaves turn from green to orange, Oktoberfest inevitably gives way to regular October (also known as the month we all endure in patient expectation for Halloween festivities). October does have its perks—witches, sweaters, Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown are back on TV—but it’s hard not to miss the beer and pretzel party that was Oktoberfest. Still, believe it or not, the beer doesn’t stop flowing after the sanctioned holiday ends, and there are some fantastic beers to sample as you wean yourself off the steins of lagers of the past Oktoberfest festivities. So if you need some assistance, here are seven delicious brews and even better reads to help you ease into regular October with flair.
Books and Brews: 7 Books to Read While Enjoying Your Favorite Beer
Let’s start with two classics, Hemingway and a classic Oktoberfest draft of German lager. THE SUN ALSO RISES, my second favorite Hemingway tale (sorry, FAREWELL TO ARMS wins the top spot by the narrowest of margins), follows the expatriate veteran Jake Barnes as he navigates the freewheeling new society of the 1920s abroad. Full of wit, energy, and gorgeous prose, it completely earns its place as a solid classic of modern literature. The perfect pairing for a classic draft is a classic read!
Hemingway's first bestselling novel, it is the story of a group of 'Lost Generation' Americans and Brits in the 1920's on a sojourn from Paris to Pamploma, Spain. The novel poignantly details their life as expatriates on Paris' Left Bank, and conveys the brutality of bullfighting in Spain. The novel established Hemingway as one of the great prose stylists of all time.
In this epidemic thriller, one small Massachusetts town is haunted by a mysterious disease that makes the living believe they’re dead. Is it an ancient curse? A supernatural presence? Or a new plague? A young psychiatrist tries to unravel the truth in Nicholas Wolff’s THE BINDING. Part medical mystery, part supernatural thriller, this is a gripping tale with a fresh new take. So of course the perfect pairing is a tall glass of Montauk Pumpkin Ale. It’s a refreshing twist on the traditional October beer, and you’ll devour your glass just as fast as you speed through this compelling and creepy novel.
Translated from its original Swedish, THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN is a gothic historical thriller that will completely and utterly haunt you long after the last page. Set in eighteenth-century Stockholm, this dark descent into the underbelly of the Swedish city begins with a mutilated corpse and only gets crazier from there. A compelling mystery and an engaging, original cast of characters elevate this thriller far beyond its peers. And to fully complete the Nordic vibe, I found an amazing beer hall that sells drafts like Einstök pale ale. Oktoberfest may be German, but now that it’s over, why should they have all the fun? Especially when the Nordic countries have some great drafts of their own!
In this adorable NYC-set story, Eve and Ben, two students at Columbia University who are connected by mutual friends. In the book you read about their growth into their twenties, as they learn a lot more about themselves and the city around them while also crossing paths with each other. A very neo–When Harry Met Sally for a new generation, this is a sweet, light read that is as utterly relatable as it is heartwarming. So for a light read, I must recommend a light beer! A casual Yuengling or Stella are as perfectly satisfying as this amazing entry into contemporary fiction.
In this incredible work of true crime, Michelle McNamara charts her life’s work and obsession with the mysterious case of the Golden State Killer. Terrorizing and brutalizing his victims across Northern California for over a decade, the Golden State Killer was one of the most historically chilling unsolved American crime mysteries. In I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, McNamara delves headfirst into the center of the mystery and tries to make sense of the senseless as she hunts for new details and possibilities that could finally solve this haunting case. And while you immerse yourself in the darkness of California, be sure to embrace some of the good too. California has a vibrant brewing scene, and the best pairing for this sometimes hard-to-swallow story would be a strong California IPA, like Port Brewing Wipeout IPA or Molyander Double IPA.
My personal favorite beer is a good ol’ Mermaid Pilsner from the Coney Island Brewing Company. Refreshing and strong without being too bitter, it’s the perfect beer for all beer lovers, and it’s usually available in most NYC bars. As this beer is my favorite go-to whenever I don’t know what to order, my favorite go-to book to revisit during any reading slump is A PERFECT UNIVERSE by Scott O’Connor. I devoured this collection of stories the first time around, as they are diverse, beautiful, and incredibly well-written. Each story has a new life, a different breath to them, which makes them incredible within the context of the collection but also entirely compelling on their own. Every time I don’t know what to read I find myself revisiting these stories and loving them just as much each time. A PERFECT UNIVERSE and a perfect pilsner are, honestly, a match made in heaven.
Scott O’Connor’s novels have been hailed as “astonishing” (Library Journal), and “so insistently stirring, you want to lean in close to catch every word” (The New York Times Book Review). Now, from the author of Untouchable and Half World comes A Perfect Universe, a piercingly emotional cycle of stories in the tradition of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Annie Proulx’s Close Range.
Welcome to the often-overlooked corners of sun-bleached Los Angeles, where a teenaged bicycle thief searches for a kidnapped boy, a young musician emerges as the lone survivor of a building collapse, and an aging actor faces the erasure of his past. There, far from the Hollywood spotlight, we also meet two sisters locked in a destructive cycle of memory and illness, coffee-shop regulars whose lives are torn apart by a stunning moment of violence, and the desperate, fraudulent writer whose fictions connect these unforgettable characters in subtle and surprising ways.
Sharply observed, exhilaratingly paced, and beautifully written, A Perfect Universe is a masterful exploration of growing up and growing old, loss and longing, identity and deception, and the search for redemption, humanity, and grace.
Personally, I am a huge fan of a short story, and any type of anthology or collection is a direct route to my heart, but I haven’t seen a more interesting and innovative way to structure a collection of stories than the way it is done in SORORITY by Genevieve Sly Crane. Weaving in and out of the collected lives of the many girls who happen to inhabit the same sorority, it takes on the feel of a short story collection while remaining rooted to the one organization where all of those stories live. The perfect pairing for this innovative and new twist on the short story collection is a surprising twist on light beer. Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale is the perfect blend of summer/fall and sweet/tart, but still remains refreshing and truly delicious. Surprisingly intense but deliciously enjoyable, SORORITY and a raspberry ale are absolutely perfect for each other.
Sisterhood is forever…whether you like it or not.
Prep meets Girls in White Dresses in Genevieve Sly Crane’s deliciously addictive, voyeuristic exploration of female friendship and coming of age that will appeal to anyone who has ever been curious about what happens in a sorority house.
Twinsets and pearls, secrets and kinship, rituals that hold sisters together in a sacred bond of everlasting trust. Certain chaste images spring to mind when one thinks of sororities. But make no mistake: these women are not braiding each other’s hair and having pillow fights—not by a long shot.
What Genevieve Sly Crane has conjured in these pages is a blunt, in-your-face look behind the closed doors of a house full of contemporary women—and there are no holds barred. These women have issues: self-inflicted, family inflicted, sister-to-sister inflicted—and it is all on the page. At the center of this swirl is Margot: the sister who died in the house, and each chapter is told from the points of view of the women who orbit her death and have their own reactions to it.
With a keen sense of character and elegant, observant prose, Crane details the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship…or at least the appearance of it. Woven throughout are glimmers of the classical myths that undercut the lives of women in Greek life. After all, the Greek goddesses did cause their fair share of destruction….