“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” —Annie Dillard, The Living.
Readers of Drink In Life Blog may or may not know this but, I love reading! I tried hard to think of when exactly my passion for reading started, but all I remember is it was about the summer after 5th grade. I recall those summer days, hunkering down in the cool basement with a glass of Kool Aid, a PB&J sandwich and a huge pile of books checked out from the library. That summer I absolutely fell in the love with reading, and it turned into a lifelong page turning adventure. I know that many of you have a similar story. How many of you remember the first book you stayed up through the night reading because you just couldn’t put it down?
Over the past few years I’ve noticed a decline in the amount of fiction reading I do, many of the book titles that sit on my nightstand are wine, food or travel non-fiction books. Add in a busy work schedule, blog writing, social media and of course my family, and it is no wonder that time to read has been sharply diminished. Although I am very lucky and thankful for these things that make my life so exciting, I wanted to make a small goal mid-year to be a little more committed to the reading of fiction. This means actually making time for reading, instead of just waiting for the free time to appear. So I hatched a plan to start the Drink In Life Book Club!
Typically for conversations about books we gather in someone’s home or in a coffeeshop, and talk with our friends about books while drinking wine and eating good food. But, sometimes it’s not always possible to meet in person and sometimes we want to include friends who live far away, so the solution is a remote online book club. I will be choosing the books a few months in advance to get the book club going but, my hope is that in the future each month I will be co-hosting with someone and we will go off of a list of suggested titles complied by the book club group.
Here’s how it will work: At the end of this post I will be sharing the June and July books and any supplemental books to go with them. This will give everyone plenty of time to to buy, download or check the books out from your local library and allow ample time to get the books read. Some of the book titles may be books that you have already read, but each month I will be posting on the 1st of each month not only information about the book and author, but supplemental books that go with the general theme of the book, wines or cocktails to accompany the discussion, as well as recipes that are inspired by the titles.
On the third or fourth Sunday of each month we will gather on Zoom or another platform and share our thoughts about the book, the wine or cocktails and the recipes are paired with the books. More information will be shared on the June post. Be sure to sign up to receive email notifications of new blog posts to keep up with announcements for the book club each month. Then comment on the book club post each month that you would like to join in on the discussion and you will receive an email invitation.
A Hunger for Literature can bring a group of booklovers together, but the addition of delicious food, wine and cocktail pairings is the best way to prevent talking about books on an empty stomach. On the book club announcement each month We will be including a collection of recipes, wines and cocktails that are a perfect combination with the selected book title. I said We because each month Chef Jill Sonlin of Jill’s Gourmet Dreams will be collaborating with me to bring you some of her amazing original recipes. Jill and I hope to find fun ways to link food to each reading selection so that as book club members you have a chance to connect with the literature, try a couple of new recipes and spice up the book discussions.
For over 30 years Jill has been a Registered Nurse, who worked for many years on a busy adult medical-surgical unit in a trauma hospital. Jill has also worked with many local charities including Habitat For Humanity, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Meals on Wheels, helping numerous disadvantaged people get the support they need with money, food, clothing, and housing.
“Throughout the years I have also
supplied many local charities with my donated catering services and food for their events. In the last decade, I have worked as a medical-surgical dermatology nurse simultaneously while attending French Culinary School. Fresh out of culinary school
I focused my work as a dinner Chef in a popular farm to table upscale restaurant. I created many recipes for the nightly specials menu that were highly favored by our customer base, and excited many in the community to come to the restaurant for a taste of my newest creations. I’ve also received two national Chef award recognitions; one winning for a duck recipe contest while in culinary school, and one as Top 20 best original burger recipes in a prestigious national James Beard Blended Burger contest in 2018 for working Chefs. I finished proudly at #14 out of 300 highly skilled Chefs across America.”
In the next phase of her dual career as a Nurse-Chef, Jill is busy doing custom gourmet food art, catering, recipe development, and cooking classes. “I also passionately work with cancer patients and families, as well as cancer support groups, in teaching important nutritional information for health and healing before, during, and after cancer treatments. I also teach how to make easy, delicious, and healthy recipes that can help boost overall health and wellness.”
I can’t wait to share Jill’s delicious recipes including how she transformed a pivotal recipe found in the June book selection.
Since yesterday, May 9th was Liberation Day on the island of Guernsey, it seems appropriate, to share that one of my favorite books, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” will be the first book in The Drink In Life Book Club. Liberation Day is a public holiday in the Channel Islands one that commemorates the liberation of the islands from Nazi occupation at the end of the Second World War. After the Allied defeat in France in 1940, Germany invaded and occupied the Channel Islands and that occupation laid the frame work for the historical fiction that is woven throughout this book.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows; This engaging novel follows the story of Juliet, a writer and columnist during war-time and post-war time in England. Through the novel insight into her friendships is gained and her conflicting emotions regarding love and relationships are revealed. Yet her growing love affair with a Guernsey island man and compassion for the people who survived the German occupation of the island is what makes this book hard to put down. This gorgeous tale of budding friendships, the families we choose, the strength of the human spirit and a whole lot of love for literature, food, and gin, is a captivating historical fiction read.
In conjunction with this book club launch I will be joining Kathy Moorehead @atthetastingroom on Instagram for a Movie Night discussion of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is available on Netflix. Kathy and I will be sipping wine from Spirit of the Unicorn and chatting about the movie. You can join us for this live Instagram discussion on Wednesday June 16th, at 7:30 pm PDT.
Kathy is a retired teacher who has been living and tasting in Sonoma and Napa wine country for 30 years. Her Instagram blog was started to share her favorite restaurants, places to go wine tasting, as well as to share other wine country events and activities. If you follow Kathy on Instagram her enthusiasm for the Sonoma and Napa Wine Country is apparent with each wonderful photo, creative video and informative post she creates. Here is what she told me about why she started on this journey;
“I wanted to focus on the “experience” of wine tasting, what it is like at each winery. You are sure to find some wines you like at each winery, but how do you know where to spend those precious few vacation days once you get here? I wanted to create a visual bank of photos, stories, and now reels to “bring you there”, so you can get an idea of places you might want to visit when you get here.”
“People still DM me all the time, tell me they have booked the trip, and ask me, “Where should I go?” This has made me realize that people really do want someone who “knows them” to help them create an itinerary, so I am happy to do this for friends on this platform. I really just love being an ambassador for this beautiful place I call home, and I also enjoy teaching all the adult mommies where to go to have a good weekend, because as a former teacher, I know how much you all deserve the very best vacation possible!! Moms need all the wine!! Dad’s too!”
Photo Credit: Kathy, At the Tasting Room
When I asked Kathy why she started her Movie and Wine Chat nights this is what she shared with me;
“I have always loved movies, a bit of a movie buff, so I decided to combine two of my interests into a regular Wednesday Night Live on IGTV. I invite a different producer on each week to introduce themselves and their wine, and then I have a guest wine influencer join in. We sip and chat about a movie we have both watched, and give our tasting notes. Sometimes we have discount codes to share, and even the occasional Giveaways.”
Kathy also added, ” I hope you can tune in when Elaine and I will be watching “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” and sipping on some “Spirit of the Unicorn Wine” this June 16th.”
The blog post for the June book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society along with Jaz Spirits Gin & Wine Cocktail recipes and food pairings will be posted on June 1st.
Barbara Kingsolver (Photo – Kingsolver’s Website )
I know what your thinking, 2 books! It does seem like a lot, but Prodigal Summer is the book that we will be discussing and the other title by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a supplemental book as it’s nature/gardening/food and life theme completely compliments Prodigal Summer. I really encourage you to read both if time allows. The blog post featuring Badger Mountain Vineyard wines along with food pairings from myself and Jill Sonlin for these books will be posted on July 1st.
Prodigal Summer; The vivid display of the natural world is on full display in Prodigal Summer. With the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia setting the stage, this beautiful novel follows three peoples lives as they navigate the land around them and their personal lives. The characters’ lives are shaped in unexpected ways by nature’s continuous cycles, and the plot twist readers an ecological education that is effortless and enchanting.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle–A Year of Food Life; I am going to start off by admitting that I have read this book 4 times over the last 14 years, the first time was in 2007 when it was published. It is the book that ignited my desire to grow my own food in the most organic way possible and to rely less on what was in the grocery store year round and focus on what local foods were available during each season. This book changed how I thought about the foods that I cooked, it increased my awareness of how the agricultural establishment can affect our health and environment for the better or worse. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle shows how a world of choice is in our hands.
“Small change, small wonders – these are the currency of my endurance and ultimately of my life”. -Barbara Kingsolver
The goal of this monthly book club is to discover all that literature has to offer, partake in good food and drinks and have a good old fashioned chat feast. All are welcome.
For Updates on the book club, I invite you to sign up to receive email notifications of new blog posts. You can also check under the Drink In Life Book Club Category for the latest posts (on the right) and follow me on Instagram @drinkinnaturephotography and/or @drinkinlifebookclub.
Images and content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.