The Drinking Club Could Use Some Magical Thinking Right About Now

I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and well stocked on their wine. I don’t think many of us are far off from throwing in some Baileys to our whipped coffee one morning. The days blur, the stress builds, and you can’t unwind with a peaceful walk along the NYC riverfront because there are TOO MANY PEOPLE OUTSIDE.

As we wait for the next shoe to drop with each news alert, it gets harder to remember the petty grievances we once held, while the memories of happy hours and brunches and movie nights begin to feel like a part of a good dream you just remembered. Now seems like as good as any time to recap what The Drinking Club was up to before it all went to hell in a handbasket (I know this update is months late. I KNOW. The shame is relentless):

  • We read Cherry, and probably got ourselves banned from a posh Midtown wine bar. It might have been for calling the waiter out for his bartender’s crappy pours. It might also have been for leaving six credit cards to split a bill out of spite when said waiter suggested that “Venmo was a thing.” We have no regrets.
  • We read Daisy Jones & The Six, and feasted on grandma pizza and roommate horror stories in DR’s cozy new studio apartment.
  • We read Where The Crawdads Sing, and had very polarizing reactions to it. Some of us also stood on an Amtrak train from Baltimore to get to the gathering, and were probably not the greatest company.

As fate would have it, The Drinking Club gathered about a week before we were told to stay home for the foreseeable future (but not before buying all the yeast we could get our hands on). I had recently ditched MV for another club member, moving into a spacious and sunny bedroom in MM’s apartment. We gathered in my new living room that Friday night, inhaling sea salt chips with our Cabernet Sauvignon and letting loose after a long week. We spent a significant amount of time discussing bodily functions (were we possessed by 12-year-old boys?) and getting LL to dish on all the wedding planning updates (which has now, sadly, been postponed to 2021). It was my turn to select our read, and I chose a book by my favorite author, one that had been sitting on my shelf for nearly two years. The author: Joan Didion. The book: The Year of Magical Thinking, her exploration of death and grief after her husband suddenly died and their daughter became gravely ill. None of that is relevant to today at all.

This was not the cheeriest read, I will admit, especially once you know Quintana, Joan and John’s daughter, dies after the publication of the book. However, those of us that worship at the altar of Joan know that she can make dried paint sound fascinating. What is captivating about her writing is how perfectly she can distill a feeling or experience to the reader. She unravels our most complex actions into their simplest truths, removing any bias to show them as they are. In Magical Thinking, she untangles her grief thread by thread, taking us along as the time from John’s death grows from days to weeks to months. She documents her cool responses in moments of crises, her refusal to accept his death, and her overwhelming sadness as she puts her mourning on hold to care for her daughter. The moment she buys hospital scrubs at UCLA sticks with me still. This scene encapsulates how warped her reality is, and understandably so. Her world, at that moment, is one of trauma. She dissects this and her lowest moments scientifically, but also with compassion. This, combined with her in-depth reporting, gives the reader an unparalleled look at grief on a larger scale, as well as how it infects an individual.

If I’ve learned anything from this book, it’s that we won’t understand how our current crisis has changed us until we are well past it. We will develop quirks that will seem strange to our future selves, but were essential to coping during these quiet days. I’m hopeful Joan will be with us on the other side of this, helping us understand why we did what we did. No one will be able to do it as well as she can.

The Drinking Club is supposed to gather later today, where we’ll hear how DR is accomplishing her very necessary work at a hospital, how DD is managing working from home, and how AM is managing with her relatives in the age of COVID. MM and I will brag about the donuts we made (they were phenomenal). We’ll remind LL how much we’re looking forward to celebrating her wedding in 2021. And we’ll be grateful for each other, our health, and the books that helped us through this time. But mostly we’ll be grateful for the wine.

Until next time,


The Club Celebrates the 4th…With a Book

Hello Readers,

It’s July 4, a day for sparklers, a cold Bud, and blisters from walking endless blocks to secure the perfect firework-gazing spot. While our political climate seems more contentious than ever, there is one thing we can agree on: it’s the perfect day to kickstart your summer reading. What do we have on the docket? Let’s start with our latest club pick:



Sloane Crosley’s latest collection of essays, Look Alive Out There, hit shelves a decade after her first collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. She’s back with more hilarious adventures, from scaling volcanoes to crashing shivas. MV was reading this in the park last weekend, and might have spent more time laughing while reading, than actually reading. More of our thoughts are coming later this month.



As I wrote in our last missive, I have a massive writing crush on Joan Didion. An entry about summer reads (especially on ‘Murica’s birthday) seemed incomplete without Didion’s latest book, a collection of her notes from the 1970s. The first set, “Notes on the South,” documents a road trip she took with her husband through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She vividly documents a world of horse shows, political soirees, and empty highways that, to today’s reader, may not seem that different from the South of today. The second portion of the book, “California Notes,” reflects on Didion’s childhood in Sacramento, and what “The West” means to those along the Pacific Coast. If you want to get a glimpse into a brilliant mind, and understand what America’s varied landscapes mean to the people that inhabit them, then add this to your list.


Blog - 7.4.18 Post

To me, summer reading has often meant a bone-chilling thriller to dive into at the beach (as if the seagulls aren’t terrifying enough). A few of my favorites: The Woman in Cabin 10, which I recently finished on a hot summer morning in the park (while MV read Sloane Crosley). Ruth Ware fills the pages with badass women who refuse to be held captive, something we can all aspire to. Sharp Objects premieres on HBO this weekend; if you haven’t dipped into Gillian Flynn’s twisted thriller with more mommy issues than any one person should have, then I highly recommend jumping in. This last title is one of my favorite series that my Dad and I read together. Relic introduces readers to the rule-breaking, justice-seeking Special Agent Pendergast as he investigates mysterious murders inside the Museum of Natural History.


I’ll cap off our list with an essential summer read by an author often called The Queen of the Summer Read: Elin Hilderbrand. While I have yet to read her latest summer hit, The Perfect Couple, I thoroughly enjoyed The Identicals, a book that solidified herself as a mainstay on summer reading lists and in beach totes nationwide. Twin sisters living on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, respectively, decide to swap islands and lives over the course of one summer. There’s family drama, romance, and plenty of lobster rolls and wine consumed while gazing at the Atlantic. What more could want? Oh, right: some more wine to go along with your summer reading.









The Club Goes to New Orleans…And Finds a Bookstore

Hello readers,

I’ve spent the past week in New Orleans for work, meeting with some of the kindest and coolest children’s booksellers you will ever meet. Before I left the Big Easy, I had two goals: eat beignets, and visit at least one bookstore.

The first order of business was accomplished a few hours after my arrival:

Best decision: ordering an iced cafe au lait to accompany the delicately fried perfection of the beignets. Worst decision: wearing black pants on this adventure.


The second item was found during a leisurely ride on the St. Charles streetcar, admiring lavish southern mansions shaded by stately oak trees. A few coworkers and booksellers had ridden the trolley through the Garden District, raving about the relaxing loop from downtown through the quiet neighborhood. I hopped on the morning before my flight home, ready to marvel at homes worth more than I could imagine, and browse one of NOLA’s best bookstores: Garden District Book Shop.

A quiet Thursday morning in the Garden District.

Tucked away on Prytania St, Garden District houses bestsellers and classics on well-worn wooden bookcases in a cozy storefront. The paperback display was like candy; positioned up front by the register, where any book lover’s willpower disintegrates. The store had a decent selection of local reads and travel tomes, and an entire bookcase dedicated to Anne Rice. Not gonna lie, I was tempted to pick up a copy, but thought it might add another 5 pounds to my carry-on. I did purchase a copy of The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I read Slouching Towards Bethlehem in college and South and West last year, and am mesmerized by her writing (whose notes could be turned into a bestseller? Not mine. Joan puts us all to shame). I will post my thoughts soon! In the meantime, here’s Garden District:

Like I said: candy. How many are on your TBR?


The hardcover display. The Power is phenomenal!



Later this year, I’ll be in San Diego, Tampa, and Rhode Island for work. Let me know your favorite indie bookstores in the area–I’m always looking for recommendations!

– E