Heyyyy! It’s Friday! You know what that means? It means it’s time for another edition of Boozy Books, where we treat books like food and booze like booze. Because, really, aren’t books a type of food? If you go too long without reading one, don’t you get hungry? You know you do.
This week, I want to take you to a series of books that not only rewards you for loving books, it pretty much expects you to love them. If these books were a university course, Loving Books 101 (and perhaps 202) would be listed as a prereq for entry. They’re a celebration of all things literary, a reward for all those years of pouring through page after page of stories, some amazing and some amazingly disappointing. If the story doesn’t end when you close the cover and the characters of your favorite books travel with you even when their pages are on a shelf…well, this is the series for you.
So, ladies and gents, this week we present the Thursday Next series, which begins with The Eyre Affair and progresses through seven books so far.
The most important thing to know about this series is that it’s set in a surreal version of Great Britain where the Crimean War never ended, Wales is an independent (and slightly hostile) republic, and long distance travel is done via a mix of airships and tubes that travel through the very center of the Earth. Humans have used cloning and genetic sequencing to bring back dodos and Neanderthals (and other extinct animals), time travel is par for the course for members of the time police, and Britons take their literature very, very seriously. Seriously enough that there are roving gangs devoted to literary movements, hundreds of Lord Byrons (that have to be registered), and coin-operated machines that quote Shakespeare if you’ve a need for some Bard in your life. And all of this is policed by the LiteraTecs, who are in charge of literary crimes.
Oh yeah, and certain people can jump into the world of books…where all of our favorite characters live full lives between the pages of their story. It just so happens that Thursday Next happens to be one of those people.
Thursday is a LiteraTec in London as the first novel begins, but soon has transferred back home to Swindon after a run-in with a member of the supremely evil Hades family ends in disaster. She is a brilliant woman with a love of Jane Austen, a supreme knowledge of Shakespeare, and all of the emotional scarring you would expect from a veteran of a horrid war. Like many, she fought in the Crimea; unlike many of her battalion, she came home. Most of her life since then has been hiding from that reality, and hiding from how much it hurts. But that does not mean she isn’t strong; she has not crumbled beneath that pain. She just deals with it the way a lot of people do…by pretending it isn’t there. Throughout the series, she learns to deal with it, lets love into her life, takes over the Book World (in the best way), and becomes a wife and mother. The best part is that she is so real. She makes sacrifices for her career and for her family, and she isn’t without faults that sometimes make you dislike her. In a world where so many heroines are the smartest or the prettiest or the fulfillment of a prophesy, she’s just a normal thirty-something from Swindon. Which is precisely what makes her so awesome.
My favorite part of these books, however, has to be all the humor and literary references that are seeded generously throughout them. A lot of them aren’t explained, either…you’re just expected to get them. It’s a reward for being well-read and erudite, like you’re part of this club. You know how it feels when you’re the only person in a movie theater to get a joke? It’s like that, only you know someone else out there understands you and feels that you deserve to have your love celebrated. Ultimately, the Thursday Next books are all about a celebration of that love. And that’s what makes them so special.
Now…what to drink with such a special series? OK, I admit, this one is rather personal. For me, if you want to savor something, if you want to sit there with a good book and a drink, it absolutely has to be scotch. My personal favorites are Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, and (here’s to you, Ron Swanson) Lagavulin, but it all comes down to what sort of flavor you’re looking for. For me, I like it straight, but if you need a bit of water or a couple of ice cubes, I won’t judge you. Some people might, but I won’t. Of course, if scotch isn’t for you, I am also a huge fan of a nice cup of tea when I read a good book, or…one of those amazing cocktails based on literature is fine, too. May I recommend the the book Tequila Mockingbird for such things? It has tons of choices, all of which seem quite delicious and worth drinking. With a series as diverse and surreal and amazing as Thursday Next, you really can’t go wrong.
Well, that’s it for us today! I promise, promise, promise there will be some Shakespeare tomorrow! No more bad weekends! Until then…go get lost in a good book!