A mild winter combined with 80’s in the forecast has me daydreaming about tattered paperbacks and sunscreen aromatherapy. While Memorial Day will most likely mark my first sunburn of the season, I’m kicking off summer reading early. This summer, my list includes old favorites, all books I haven’t read in ages, with a penchant for the slightly trashy. These books are best in paperback, improve when splashed with chlorine or marked with sunscreen fingerprints. And as long as you’re packing for the pool or beach, might as well load up the cooler with a drink that is book worthy.
The Poolside Companion: Trash, Tragedy, and Thirst
Valley of the Dolls | Jacqueline Susann
Published in 1966, this book follows a group of women over a twenty year time period marked by affairs, occasional fame, and pills (or DOLLS to you, 1966).
Drink Pairing: Vodka on the rocks
Rebecca | Daphne du Maurier
I first read this book in high school, having picked it up at a garage sale. I remember nothing about the book, except thinking that it was a shockingly good for a garage sale find. Love, mystery, and deception – the perfect poolside trifecta.
Drink Pairing: Port
Flowers in the Attic | V.C. Andrews
As a teenager, this was one of several books I read in secret, knowing that my mom would never allow it. Hard to imagine how she could disapprove of children being locked in an attic, inappropriate relationships, and being called names like “the devil’s spawn.”
Drink Pairing: Wine Cooler
The Sixteen Pleasures | Robert Hellenga
Just after the waters of the Arno rose to flood the streets of Florence, book conservator Margot travels to offer her assistance in restoring works damaged by water and mud. Art, books, and Florence, oh my.
Drink Pairing: Chianti
Prince of Tides | Pat Conroy
If you have never read anything by Pat Conroy, you are in for quite a treat. A story filled with love, tragedy, and great characters, this book is beautifully written and will make you feel as though you’ve spent some time on the South Carolina coast.
Drink Pairing: Salty Dog (Highball with salted rim filled with ice + 2 oz gin + 4 oz grapefruit juice)
Still Woman Enough | Loretta Lynn
I love Loretta Lynn. Love, love, love her. This book is what I imagine is exactly what it would be like to sit at the kitchen table and have a long conversation together.
Drink Pairing: Shot of Whiskey
Blue Dahlia | Nora Roberts
Love, ghosts, and a little gardening. Not usually one to choose a romance novel, I whipped through this book in no time. And the next two in the series just a few days later.
Drink Pairing: Baby Blue (Highball filled with ice + 1-1/2 oz Blue Curacao + Diet Ginger Ale)
Skinny Legs and All | Tom Robbins
If you have never read anything by Tom Robbins let me start by saying this – his books are weird. Weird, and awesome, and interesting, and filled with well-written sentences (unlike this one).
Drink Pairing: Skinny Ginger (Highball filled with ice + 1-1/2 oz 2GINGERS Whiskey + Diet Ginger Ale)
Prayer for Owen Meany | John Irving
The first book by John Irving I ever read, this book became a fast favorite. It was over this book that I found a lifelong friend and developed a fondness for armadillos.
Drink Pairing: BOOZY ICED COFFEE (Lowball filled with ice + 2 oz iced coffee + 1/2 oz bourbon + 1/2 oz Baileys)
Kitchen Confidential | Anthony Bourdain
If you’ve ever spent any time working in a restaurant, this book will make you feel nostalgic for days filled with fast-paced work and late-nights spent drinking and smoking.
Drink Pairing: Six pack of beer
Too hard to remember all of these things? It is summer, baby, but don’t break a sweat thinking about it. I’ve made you a handy bookmark-sized reading and cocktail list. Tuck it in your book and head to the liquor store, it’s time for summer to begin.
Print it: The Poolside Companion Bookmark
P.S. Are you using Goodreads? If so, join our summer reading group “The Poolside Companion“. All of the books on this list have been added to the group bookshelf. From there, you can add any of the books to your own bookshelf, start a discussion, or suggest other pool-worthy books.