The best—if we’re being honest, maybe the only good—part of the summer of 2020 has been the books. From twisty thrillers to steamy romances, we’ve had it all. Our summer 2020 reads are hot, sweet, evocative—kind of like a really good cocktail. And since you’re likely reading any number of these with a drink in your hand anyway, I thought I’d do the work of pairing some of the biggest summer reads with the perfect drink. You’re welcome.
‘Luster’ + Death In The Afternoon
I love a Death in the Afternoon—and no, that’s not just when my coffee crash hits—because this cocktail almost begs you to drink it. It’s so glamorous, yet kind of out-there (tell me the last time you saw one of these on a cocktail menu… exactly). Not to mention, it’s delicious. I think Raven Leilani’s Luster is just as compelling. So much of this book is about that all-too-familiar striving for satisfaction, electric and desperate and wry. Luster is the perfect accompaniment to this cocktail because it hits those same dark and quixotic notes. Another irresistible point of symmetry is that this drink has only three ingredients, mirroring the open marriage at the center of this story.
- ¾ oz absinthe
- 4 oz chilled prosecco
- 1 sugar cube
Pour the absinthe into a champagne glass. Slowly add the chilled prosecco; if you do it right, your drink will turn an enchanting, iridescent green. Drop in the sugar cube and enjoy that gratifying fizz while it lasts.
‘Hysteria’ + Tequila And Habanero Sour
This book burns with sensual urgency, sort of like the burn from the habanero in this twist on a sour. Jessica Gross’ immersive and dark debut is complex and beautiful, hitting every note in that virtuosic range between desire and shame. I couldn’t resist matching Hysteria with this spicy tequila sour, a drink that encompasses an equally impressive range of flavor and fragrance.
- 4 oz blanco tequila
- 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ oz agave
- 2 dashes habanero hot sauce
Add the tequila, lemon juice, and agave into a shaking tin. Throw in the hot sauce and five to seven ice cubes, then shake vigorously for almost a full minute (if your arms can hold up). Fill two rocks glasses with ice and pour out the mixture through a strainer, dividing the cocktail between the glasses equally. Garnish each glass with a freshly sliced lemon wheel.
‘The Death Of Vivek Oji’ + Mezcal Aperol Gimlet
Akwaeke Emezi’s story about community and loss is the real deal. The masterfully rendered characters and shifting points of view create a poignant vision of the kaleidoscopic world surrounding Vivek. I found it nearly impossible to put this book down, which is why I had to pair it with a drink that I also find impossible to put down: this complex, bittersweet, vibrant mezcal Aperol gimlet.
- 2 oz mezcal
- ¾ oz agave nectar
- 1 ½ tsp Aperol
- ¾ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- grapefruit zest for garnish
Combine the mezcal, agave, Aperol, and lime in a shaking tin. Add five to seven ice cubes and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain your cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a generous strip of grapefruit zest, if you have it.
‘Pizza Girl’ + Rum And Cherry Coke
Pizza Girl will take you for a ride in the very best way. Jean Kyoung Frazier so clearly, brilliantly—and almost harshly, because it’s so relatable it may feel like an attack—renders the mistakes, tragedies, and miracles of youth. I couldn’t resist going a little more literal with this one and pairing Pizza Girl with a riff on a rum and coke. This one’s hopefully a step up from what you were drinking in your high school friend’s basement while your parents thought you were studying, but it’s still a throwback to those days. (Not to mention, it goes great with pizza.)
- 2oz Flor de Cana rum
- 4 oz cherry Coke
- 1 maraschino cherry
You know this song, right? Fill a tall glass with ice and add your rum and cherry coke. Give it a little stir and add a maraschino cherry so you can practice tying the stem into a knot with your tongue when you’re finished.
‘Last Call On Decatur Street’ + Sazerac
Iris Martin Cohen’s Last Call on Decatur Street perfectly captures the blurry beauty of a long night out in one of the most bewitching cities in the world. (Ugh, remember nights out?) A Sazerac is really the only match for this dazzling ode to New Orleans, since the drink was created there in the early 19th century. The dreamy absinthe rinse along with a bold bolt of rye will bring you to the exact sort of summer night Cohen conjures in her page-turning second novel. Just maybe pace yourself with this drink, or you may find yourself having a blurry night of your own.
- 1 ½ tsp absinthe
- 2 oz rye
- 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 ½ tsp simple syrup
Pour the absinthe into a glass along with two ice cubes; swirl the glass and coat the interior. Set aside and add rye, both bitters, simple syrup, and ice to a separate mixing glass. Stir for about a minute. Then, empty the absinthe and ice from the first cup and pour—through a strainer—the contents of the mixing glass into the rinsed glass.
‘Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop’ + St. Germain
Aside from my friends and family, I probably miss traveling the most. Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is a tonic for anyone craving adventure. For a more immersive experience, fix yourself a St. Germain champagne cocktail to go along with it. This drink is as lovely, effervescent and delightful as Roselle Kim’s transportive tale of Vanessa’s voyage to Paris. Plus, it’s French AF so it will really set the scene.
- 1 oz St. Germain
- ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 oz chilled sparkling wine
- lemon zest for garnish
Add the St. Germain and lemon juice in a shaking tin over ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and pour into a champagne glass. If you want to get really fancy with it, chill the glass first. But if you can’t wait, don’t worry about it. Top with cold sparkling wine and garnish with a twist of lemon zest. If you don’t have a shaking tin, you can make this one right in the glass—just make sure you pour in the St. Germain and lemon juice first.
Image: Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com
It’s that time of year again! The sun is out, the temperatures are rising, and all you want to do is go to the park in your bikini and read a good book. Or, maybe that’s just me. In any case, I’ve been powering through advance copies all season to get you the Betches Summer Reading List 2019. Whether you’re into romance, mystery, fun character sketches, etc., you’ll likely find something you will enjoy on this list. Now, as a warning, here is how I am classifying my summer reading list: books that come out during the spring and summer. So don’t be salty if some of these picks aren’t available yet. That’s why God invented preorder.
‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston
This book is so cute and fun and I’m obsessed with it. It’s about Alex Claremont-Diaz, the heartthrob son of the first female President of the United States (if only), and Prince Henry, the Prince of England. The two start out as rivals and are forced to fake a friendship, until that fake friendship turns into a real friendship… and then more. Told through narrative, texts, emails, and even a podcast, this book is inventive and fun, and super heartwarming. I finished it today and low-key teared up on the subway.
‘My Lovely Wife’ by Samantha Downing
Yes, I wrote about this one before, and yes, I’ll likely do it again. This book was that good. Literally think Gone Girl, except better. I promise you. My Lovely Wife is about a typical suburban married couple with children… who hunts and murders women for fun. I swear to you, you won’t see the twist coming. And if you do, kindly drop your location in the comments, so I can alert the police.
‘Honestly, We Meant Well’ by Grant Ginder
I loved The People We Hate At The Wedding, so I was not surprised that I loved Grant Ginder’s next book, Honestly, We Meant Well. Here’s the gist: a family takes a trip to Greece. But in that family, you have Dean, a famed writer and now-professor who just cheated on Sue Ellen, his wife. Oh, and they have a son, Will, who just broke up with his boyfriend, only to have him move on immediately and steal his job. There’s not a lot of action (until the climax), but there’s plenty of character development to keep you hooked. This fun family portrait is a perfect summer read.
‘The Learning Curve’ by Mandy Berman
Fiona and Liv are two best friends who became inseparable after Fiona experienced a family tragedy. Senior year of college, their lives are headed in different directions, and their differences are only highlighted by the sudden arrival of famed writer and controversial figure, Oliver Ash. It’s not what you think—at least, not entirely. This novel, through different perspectives, explores loss, grief, sex, friendship, power dynamics, and much more.
‘Star-Crossed’ By Minnie Darke
If you’re into horoscopes, and romantic comedies that are told through vignettes that ultimately come together in the end, you’ll love Star Crossed, which has both of those elements. The novel focuses on a few characters, namely, Justine (a Sagittarius and a serious skeptic), who starts working at a newspaper. One of her projects? Laying out the horoscopes. All is proceeding normally until Justine takes the horoscopes into her own hands… and ends up changing other people’s lives, not just her own.
‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell
If you’re only going to read one thriller this summer, make it this one. It takes place in a nice neighborhood of Bristol, England, where everyone is hiding something—and everyone is watching each other. When someone in the community ends up murdered, all these secrets start scratching at the surface, threatening to come to life. Told via first-person narrative and transcripts of police interviews, this is a page-turner you won’t be able to put down. And with so many twists, it’s guaranteed that at least one will surprise you.
‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book is literally going to be huge, and Reese Witherspoon loved it so much she made it a book club pick. Told like a biography (that’s not a real biography), the book follows Daisy Jones, a girl coming of age in LA in the late sixties, and her life is all sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. When she joins forces with The Six, they become one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Remember—this is all fictional, but it reads like an oral history. It’s an extremely inventive format and a captivating story that you and all your friends will love.
‘The Last Book Party’ by Karen Dukess
It’s 1987, and Eve Rosen, aspiring writer and lowly assistant at a publishing house, is desperate to prove her mettle in the arts and literary scene. So when famed New Yorker writer Henry Grey extends an invite to a party at his summer home in Cape Cod, Eve jumps at the opportunity. Henry takes a liking to her and hires her as his personal assistant, giving her even access to the world she previously only dreamed about. She also scores an invite to the famed “Book Party,” an end-of-summer celebration where everyone dresses in elaborate literary costumes. However, the deeper she gets into this world, the more she discovers that all that glitters is not gold and nothing is really as it seems.
‘The Perfect Girlfriend’ by Karen Hamilton
Another fun suspense-filled novel, this one follows Juliette, who was just dumped by Nate. She’ll do anything to win him back… literally. She’s convinced she and Nate are meant to be and has devised a truly crazy plan to win him back. So crazy, it just might work? You’ll have to find out. Juliette is certifiably insane, for sure, but you’ll find yourself siding with her more and more as the plot progresses.
‘The Bride Test’ By Helen Hoang
If you read and loved last year’s The Kiss Quotient, then you need to run out and order Helen Hoang’s next novel, The Bride Test, right now. Just like The Kiss Quotient featured a protagonist on the Autism spectrum, this one does as well—so you’re not just reading a fun novel, you’re also reading a novel that’s giving visibility to groups that aren’t often written about. So. Onto The Bride Test. Khai Diep doesn’t really experience emotions—or at least, he doesn’t think he does. He doesn’t think he’s capable of love, but his family knows better. So his mom travels to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
‘The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill’ By Abbi Waxman
I knew I forgot something I’d read and liked on my reading list, so I updated the post to include this fun read about Nina Hill, a nerdy girl living in LA, whose life is turned upside down when she finds out her estranged father died and left her a whole dysfunctional family who wants to meet her. And, given that Nina is a huge introvert, she would rather not—yes, I know what you’re thinking. Even if it means passing up that sweet, sweet inheritance money. If you relate to staying in and JOMO (joy of missing out), you’ll relate to Nina. This book was a fun, cute beach read that you’ll breeze through pretty quickly, but it’s still got a lot of heart.
Images: Link Hoang / Unsplash; Amazon (10)
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If you’re anything like me, you hate making decisions, and who better to turn to for all your life choices than the stars? Nobody. Well, the stars are not really a person, but more like an entity, but you get what I mean. Summer is almost here, and with pool season comes summer reading lists. But with so many books out there to choose from, how do you decide?! Let your zodiac sign be your guide, because I found the best book to read based on your zodiac sign. Start here with these personal recommendations, then keep your eyes peeled for the Betches Summer Reading List, out v v soon.
If You’re An Aries, Read…
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
If you’re an Aries, this is your week to get stuff done like the bad betch you are. Start thinking proactively with Rachel Hollis’s Girl, Stop Apologizing. Hollis is sick of seeing women downplay their own success and in her latest novel, she empowers hardworking ladies to embrace the future they want instead of adhering to what everyone else expects.
If You’re A Taurus, Read…
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is your week to shine, Taurus! While you’re feeling popular and ahead of the game, pick up a copy of the mega-popular and Instagram-famous Daisy Jones & the Six. When Daisy Jones joins Billy Dunne’s band, The Six, the collaboration becomes an instant sensation. Filled with sex, drugs and rock n roll, this New York Times bestseller is a must for Taurus.
If You’re A Gemini, Read…
The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
True Geminis are feeling all kinds of zen at the moment and should be kicking back this week with a book to bring out the most peaceful version of themselves. Ansley Murphy and her three daughters are finally living the happy lives they’ve all dreamed of… and then two women roll into town destined to take them down. The Murphy women will have to band together to get through this disastrous time.
If You’re A Cancer, Read…
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
It’s time to switch up your genre game, Cancer. Come out of that shell and read a suspenseful thriller that will have you up all night. Miriam Macy and six other strangers have just arrived for a tropical vacation off the coast of Mexico. What they don’t know if that they’ve all been brought there for a reason, and not all of them will make it out unscathed.
If You’re A Leo, Read…
When’s Happy Hour: Work So Hard You Can Barely Work by Betches
Get your career in check this week, Leo! But also don’t forget your priorities (aka happy hour). We know you get serious FOMO sometimes, and that’s okay. We’ve got the perfect book rec for you by yours truly. Learn how to be the best version of your careerwoman self with the founders of Betches as they walk you through the best practices to becoming a CEO, mastering the art of conquering awkward office hookups, and so much more.
If You’re A Virgo, Read…
You, Me, and the Sea by Meg Donohue
Feeling wanderlust this week, Virgo? Why not sail out to sea? It is summer, right? You, Me, and the Sea takes place in a seaside town in Northern California, where Merrow Shawe lives a rather carefree life. But her world is quickly changed when a handsome new man comes to stay with her family, and before she knows it, their romance is changing everything she knows about life, family and home.
If You’re A Libra, Read…
Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer
Libra, you’ve got to read a thriller this week. *Trust us, it’s in the stars.* Instead of stalking your ex on Insta, do yourself a favor and pick up Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer. This suspenseful thriller will have you trying to solve the mystery up until the very end and using your powers for good. If you love The Act on Hulu, this book will be the perfect rollercoaster ride for your spring reading.
If You’re A Scorpio, Read…
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Your love life is on point this week, Scorpio! Take advantage of these romantic vibes coming your way and treat yourself to Helen Hoag’s The Bride Test. This book is smart, sexy, and refreshingly real. Khai Diep is the perfect replacement man for you single Scorpios out there. And if you’re in a relationship, it this steamy love story will have no problem keeping things hot, hot, hot.
If You’re A Sagittarius, Read…
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey
Sagittarius, you need help. Help from the one and only Oprah Winfrey. The Queen recently released The Path Made Clear, the perfect book for anyone trying to get their life in order and find success on the other side. Filled with her own anecdotes and life lessons from the important people around her, this book is one you will absolutely benefit from.
If You’re A Capricorn, Read…
The Mister by E.L. James
Cap, you are on top of the world this week with your flirty mentality. Set up a book date with The Mister by the author of a little romance novel called 50 Shades of Grey and prepare yourself for a steamy night in. Maxim Trevelyan is a major playboy, but when a tragedy strikes his family, he has to shape up. In the midst of his new life is a sexy new acquaintance—a woman he can’t get off his mind no matter how hard he tries.
If You’re An Aquarius, Read…
The Promise of Us by Jamie Beck
Aquarius, you need a little me time this week. Cancel your weekend plans and keep things chill with Jamie Beck’s The Promise of Us. Main character Claire McKenna is not a newbie when it comes to loss. Now that she’s begun her latest business venture and everything seems to be going her way, she runs into a man from her past, and suddenly everything she thought was going right in her life is thrown into chaos.
If You’re A Pisces, Read…
Machine Like Me by Ian McEwan
For the dreamy and creative Pisces, we have quite the book recommendation for you. Mercury has you feeling some type of way this week, and by that we mean you’re feeling extra curious. Machine Like Me by Ian McEwan is a curious book, to say the least. Think romance meets synthetic humans but in the 80s. Seriously, can you imagine being in a love triangle with an AI humanoid?! Maybe if he was a clone Ryan Reynolds. Either way, we trust that you can fantasize about this fake world.
Images: Nicole Wolf / Unsplash