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 Happiest Hour – 7/26/19

I feel like a winner after walking out with a bottle of wine from the office summer soiree. And by soiree, I mean pizza party. And no, I did not steal it.

Here’s what you missed this week:




The Club Did Not Order Their Feminist Dystopias With A Side Of PDA, Thank You Very Much

We did this to ourselves. I really have no right complaining to you about it. Like that will stop me.

Let’s set the scene: it’s a brisk fall evening in the city that never sleeps. The club ventures down to the Lower East Side (LES for all the NYU snobs out there) for our latest gathering. The bar is tucked away on a quiet section of Rivington St, away from the bustle of the Bowery. Down the uneven concrete steps we walk into the den of our dreams. Small wooden tables line one brick wall, while sunken leather sofas, Edison bulbs, and built-in wine cabinets complete a warm and inviting space that I would dare HGTV to top. I believe one club member even called this place her wet dream (for obvious reasons, I won’t disclose who it was. We don’t know each other that well yet).

We should have realized that, given the pheromones released by staring at exposed brick, it would be the perfect date night spot. We know of at least three couples who ended their night tangled in bedsheets with their amour. And we full-heartedly support their endeavors. Cuffing season is upon us; you gotta nail it down soon before flight prices go up. We just really don’t need to see you dry humping while we enjoy our charcuterie board.

Pro tip: two bottles of wine does not make them go away. It does make you drunk (why does your alcohol tolerance disappear after 25? Shouldn’t it improve with age?). What actually makes you forget about the girl with the pink dye job sucking her boyfriend’s face off: stories about electrifying women (literally) setting the world on fire. I’m obviously talking about our latest pick, The Power by Naomi Alderman. You may have seen it as the speculative fiction title on the NYT’s Top Ten Books of 2017, or Margaret Atwood’s knock-your-socks-off endorsed read. Or on Obama’s reading list. Regardless, if you haven’t heard about it, it is our privilege to tell you to stop what you’re doing and go to the nearest library or bookstore.



The premise: in a present almost identical to our own, young women wake up one morning with an immense electric power coursing through their veins. This power has the ability to weaken any man, and much worse. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to figure out how the world reacts: it loses its shit. What does happen is unusual: women fight back, and they win. They channel their strength to topple the patriarchy and install a new world order. Told through multiple perspectives (female and male), Alderman presents a matriarchy that is awe-inspiring and terrifying. It gives the reader pause. If women were given the opportunity to dismantle the system, would they create a world founded on fairness and equality, or would some use their power to suppress? Through the journeys of each character, she demonstrates how power corrupts, and how the well-intentioned allow themselves to be swallowed up in the same cycles of abuse.

Like I said, nothing kills libido quite like a story about women burning it all to the ground for funsies (this is not Beyonce’s version of girl power). But, in today’s endless news cycle of hate and fury, it’s important for us to understand what power is, and what it can do to us if left unchecked.

If you’re looking for further reading, check out this enlightening interview with the author. And if you learned anything from our last meeting, it’s this: never go to a wine bar that has couches. You now know what happens on them.









The Club Stops and Smells the Rosé

They tell us not to judge a book by its cover, but who are we kidding. Judging is the best part. Dare I say, it’s essential to the book buying process. Is the cover font attractive? Does the cover image catch our eye? Is our favorite-author-of-all-time saying “ERMAHGERD” on the back cover? You get the gist.

If you’ve been in any bookstore in the past 18 months, you may have notice a trend in the new release section. If you have seasonal allergies, you may have been sent running in search of the nearest Kleenex. Because Every. Damn. Cover. Has. Flowers.

Don’t believe me? I found these on the new releases table on a recent trip to Books Are Magic (which, if you haven’t been, is a delightful slice of paradise in Brooklyn):

Here’s one…
…and another…
…wait there are two next to each other…
…still here…

Abundant bouquets of perennials are lining the shelves of bookstores everywhere. To what do we owe all this foliage? The simplest explanation: one book did it and did so well that Obama recommended it as one of his favorite reads of 2015. That book: Fate and Furies, which doesn’t actually have flowers on its cover. But its block white font and striking still life inspired book designers across The Big Five to crack open their art history books for inspiration. For the more detailed explanation, and for the fascinating read that inspired yours truly to write this post, head to Vanity Fair. The piece explores how these flowers are able to capture and represent a variety of emotions, especially for stories that don’t have a traditional plot structure. These bouquets make their covers dynamic, and therefore memorable to readers browsing the store. But if all of them are freshly picked from the garden, how can any of them stand out?

What does The Club think of this trend? I managed to track down a few via text this week for their thoughts.

MV, fashionable as ever, had this to say:


MM says (and this is a direct quote): While the ladies had varied opinions, unsurprisingly MM hadn’t even noticed the trend towards floral explosion.

DD says: I was DUPED by the flower trend when I unsuspectingly picked up My Absolute Darling in an airport and then it ended up being a very creepy book about a man sexually and physically abusing his teenage daughter. MISLEADING.

And while we were on the topic of flowers, I had to ask everyone what their favorite flower-based/inspired drink was. Because what pairs better with flowers…than more flowers?

MV: I like Josh rosé. And that awesome sparkling rosé from Bedell. And Underwood rosé because canned wine.

AM: I had the Bedell Cellars [rosé] this weekend! It’s very good because it’s not too sweet. The [White Girl rosé] is popular but extremely sweet. But people seem to love it.

MM: Well, I’m not a huge fan of rosé or floral drinks… but I’m a personal fan of my lychee martini cocktails that got you all drunk AF on my birthday. It’s a fruit, grows on a tree… make it work!

DD: I am not a big rosé person so I generally won’t order it…unless we’re in the middle of this god awful heat wave in which case bring on the FROSÉ!!

If you’re still having trouble processing this, and need something other than the immortal words of Miranda Priestly, consider my favorite line from the Vanity Fair piece:

When asked to name that trend, [Julia Rubin] called them “bouquet books,” a term I’m finding more and more useful, and, frankly, delightful. The only thing more appealing than an armful of flowers is an armful of books.


— E

The Drinking Club with a Reading Problem Meets…and Decides We Want the Honest Truth

It was a weird week. The lunar blood moon eclipse was last night, the longest full blood moon we will see in our lifetime. Making this the longest week we will endure in our lifetime (hah, who are we kidding). Mercury also went into retrograde on the 26th. Translation: brace yourself for the extra crap the universe is about to throw our way, just for the heck of it.

Which is the perfect segue to the club’s latest read, Look Alive Out There. You may know Sloane Crosley from her first collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, an ode to twenty-somethings trying to hack it in the Big Apple. Or possibly her novel, The Clasp, about a hot mess love triangle that traipses across Europe in search of a necklace lost during the Nazi occupation of France that served as the inspiration for a famous short story. I enjoyed The Clasp; her protagonists are self absorbed and coming to terms with the unfulfilled dreams of their youth (they’re in their late twenties). But there is something so authentic about their messy and indulgent quarter life crises that you go along for the ride, and hope they come out the other side more self aware. And who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Pairs well with: Cabernet Sauvignon and meaningful discussions about why we will not date someone that chews with their mouth open.

But I digress. During our meeting last night, between bites of Trader Joes’ mushroom and truffle flatbread, we had our standard five minute discussion of our read. Our thoughts: we love Sloane’s voice. Her essay about Jared, the privileged high schooler from hell? Phenomenal. We’ve never related to a story more. We got lost in the middle of the collection, feeling as confused as she was in the chapter where she got altitude sickness in the mountains of Peru. But she got us back with her final essay. Her struggle to decide whether she wants, or is even cut out for, motherhood resonated with us. As a group of women in their mid-twenties, a decision like this feels foreign, a choice relegated to the realm of the real grownup. Sloane’s uncertainty leads to a revelation about what may make a good parent: a willingness to share your experiences with a tiny human and impart some of the wisdom you’ve gathered, so they can go out into the world armed with knowledge. If you can manage that, then you might be suited for it after all.

All this talk of nonexistent children led to a very interesting dialogue on relationships, covering everything from what’s everyone’s type, to whether we would want a friend to tell us if they didn’t like our significant other. Our answer: if we ask what you think of him, we want the truth. None of us want to go too far down a path only to discover that the people who know us best think there is someone more compatible out there.

What else is new with the club? How kind of you to ask:

  • We have two book related events on the calendar: books and brunch in Hoboken (stay tuned for more indie bookstore adventures), and movie night, where we each consume a (large) amount of wine while watching a terrible book-to-movie adaptation. Current nominees are Twilight and The Great Gatsby. Recommendations welcome.
  • DR is killing it at work, earning herself a promotion and additional awesomeness.
  • MM escaped attending San Diego Comic-Con to run her company’s activation, while yours truly spent the week inside the convention center selling books and trying not to get swept away by the crowds (I can’t complain though: there a few things better than a California sky and a warm sea breeze).
  • AM, after watching Kid Gorgeous seven times, may have a future as a John Mulaney impersonator.
  • DD is ready to help the singles mingle. And by that, I mean she wants to set us all up on blind dates with her single guys friends.

What else are we reading/watching/listening to:


Until next time,


The Drinking Club With A Reading Problem Meets…and Finds a New Name for White Wine

I’m going to preface this by saying that work events are exhausting.

The day we held our latest gathering, I was at the Javits Center, surviving the final day of BookExpo. I work for a publishing company, and the day’s events included presenting new books to 100 librarians and book club organizers, and keeping rowdy booksellers in line as they shoved their way to the new Holly Black galley. So I wasn’t in the best state of mind when I turned up at our meeting place, a cozy bar on the Lower East Side. I didn’t recognize DR as I approached the bar. There was no sign, and it took us several minutes to find the hand painted number on the building front, and the narrow hallway to the back of the bar where the others were waiting at a table. As I plunked my bag next to my chair, I saw a small glass water bottle with a clear liquid next to my water glass. I picked it up and poured. Before I could lift it to my lips, MM said “you know that’s not water.” I had poured myself a water glass of white wine. The club is now referring to wine as Elizabeth Water. Great.

We didn’t have a full discussion of Alias Grace (our latest pick), though AM and I had chatted about it a couple of weeks before the meeting. This is my first Margaret Atwood (criminal, I know). I admired how she seamlessly blended historical record with fiction, creating a fully realized Grace Marks from the newspapers and books that paint her as a wicked temptress, insane criminal, and/or naive simpleton. The juxtaposition between Grace’s retelling of her story and Simon’s struggles while conducting his research shows that many possess a darkness underneath the surface, ready to reveal itself under duress. Who is to say whether Grace is truly evil, while Simon hovers on the edge of criminal behavior himself? I was also told to watch the Netflix series before we could debrief further. It is now on my queue.

Other books we talked about: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. This was one of the club’s first reads, before I joined. AM passed along her copy, calling it garbage. I’m inclined to believe her, but I will reserve judgment until I’m fifty pages in (I live by the fifty-page rule).

8 of the 9 members of the club were present tonight (a rare occurrence for us). What’s new with some of our favorite readers?

  • LL went to Paris to watch her friends get engaged, and then went to Spain with her boyfriend.
  • DR went to Atlanta for a friend’s wedding and sampled all of the Coca-Cola flavors.
  • SS survived a spider bite, and invited us to a bar where her (incredibly nice) boyfriend will be bartending this weekend and will supply us with free drinks

Next up is MV’s turn. She’s consulted me on her choice, so it’s like having two turns. Stay tuned for more from the Drinking Club with a Reading Problem.