National Coffee Day is in October! And okay, we all know that coffee season is year round. But there’s something about the fall that makes it the best time to order that extra special drink at your favorite café. Maybe it’s the cool weather. Maybe it’s the Starbucks fall flavors and all the fun seasonal drinks. Maybe it’s the fact that fall is the time to get back to school and back to work. And as we all know, everyone could use an extra cup of coffee when it’s time to get back to work. Whatever your reason, go ahead and head to your favorite café, order your favorite drink, and then come back here to find out what book to pair with your favorite beverage.
Cold Brew/Iced Coffee
If your favorite coffee shop order is cold brew or iced coffee, then you’re a no-nonsense type of person with a dark sense of humor. You should pick up Chantal V. Johnson’s debut novel Post-traumatic. It’s the story of Vivian, a lawyer who advocates for mentally ill patients at a New York City psychiatric hospital. From the outside, she seems to have it all together. But privately Vivian is struggling with the traumas of her past while also dealing with the stress of being a Black Latina woman in America. After attending a family reunion, all of those past traumas and stresses bubble up to the surface.
Latte drinkers love a traditional drink that’s also a little bit of fun, which is why historical fiction is the perfect kind of read to pair with your latte. Next time you order up, get an extra shot to make it strong, and then give Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen a read. This book is set in Ancient Vietnam and based on the true story of two warrior sisters who raised an army of women to overthrow the Han Chinese. In this book, the Trung sisters have different strengths—one is disciplined and wise while the other is fierce and free-spirited—but they come together to unite their people against an oppressive regime.
Unsurprisingly, cappuccino drinkers should also consider a compelling historical fiction read. But to match your specific drinking tastes, let’s make your book shorter and more intense. Emma Donoghue’s Haven is set in seventh-century Ireland. After scholar and priest Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind, he rows down the river, accompanied by two monks, in search of a place to found a monastery. As they journey far from civilization, the men find an island and claim it for God. They vow to leave the world they knew behind them to be guided by faith in this new place.
The smell and taste of a chai latte is reminiscent of nostalgia and fantasy. Which is why, if you love a good cup of chai, you should pick up a historical fantasy like The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope. The year is 1925 in Washington, D.C. Clara Johnson’s ability to talk to spirits was able to save her during her time in jail. But now she is forever indebted to the spirits, and they won’t leave her alone. So when she’s offered a way out, she jumps at the opportunity. How does she set herself free? By stealing a magical ring from the wealthiest woman in the district. But she won’t be able to pull it off alone. With the help of an unlikely team of allies, will Clara be able to set herself free once and for all?
Forget the frills. If you like a solid cup of hot tea, you gravitate towards introspective literary novels. Try A History of Present Illness by Anna DeForest. In this debut novel, an unnamed narrator starts her career as a student doctor. As she works her way from one bed to another, our narrator grapples with the lifelong traumas she’s tried to leave behind while also tending to the woes of her patients: the man dying from substance abuse and tuberculosis, a child in pain, a woman on her death bead, dealing with aphasia. This book is a thoughtful meditation on survival, loss, and healing.
If you love bubble tea, then you love a drink that’s going to make you feel good, and why shouldn’t your books do the same? While friendships go through good times and tough times, there’s something that feels great about friends who will have your back no matter what. Take the women in Kimberla Lawson Roby’s Sister Friends Forever, for instance. Serena, Michelle, Kenya, and Lynette are sister friends forever, there for each other through thick and thin. And this year is proving to be particularly difficult for all four women: new relationships, divorce, old flames resurfacing… but through it all, they have each other’s backs.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
There’s something truly whimsical about a pumpkin spice latte. It’s like a fairy tale in a cup. So if you love a PSL, why not read a fairy tale retelling to go along with your favorite drink? Set in present-day New York City, Maria Adelmann’s How to Be Eaten follows a support group of five women who meet in a basement to discuss their past traumas. You’ll probably note the fairy tale similarities right away, but here they are: there’s Bernice, who is recovering from her time dating a crazed blue-bearded billionaire. Then there’s Ruby, who is traumatized by that one time she was eaten by a wolf, even though now she wears his coat. Next is Gretel who was held captive in a house made of candy. Meanwhile, Ashlee is the winner of a dating show who’s not quite sure she really got her fairy tale ending. Then there’s Raina, and as for her story, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Frozen Blended Coffee
If you love your coffee frozen, blended, and sweet, then you are young at heart, which is totally great! The right book for you is going to be a funny, but sensitive coming of age novel. Something like The Most Precious Substance on Earth by Shashi Bhat. This book tells the story of our protagonist Nina’s life from childhood to present day. At the beginning, Nina is a fourteen-year-old girl who spends her free time watching Saved by the Bell, reading books like Beowulf, and flirting with an Internet predator. Her parents just want the best for her. Her mother has started trying to match her up with nice Indian boys, and her father has taken to reading Hindu prayers outside of her bedroom door. Then a disturbing incident at her high school changes everything. Years later, when she returns to the classroom as a high school teacher, Nina realizes the past is never far behind her.
Hot chocolate is a comfort drink, so of course you need a comfort read to match your drink style. In Elin Hilderbrand’s Barefoot, three women take a summer trip to Nantucket, looking for peace and comfort as they sort through the difficulties in their lives. Vicki recently found out she has a serious illness. Her sister Brenda recently left her job after being caught in an affair with a student. And their friend Melanie just received news that she’s finally pregnant—right when she also discovers that her husband is having an affair. The three women are looking for a relaxing vacation away, but then twenty-two-year-old Josh Flynn steps into their lives and complicates everything.