5 Books and Drinks for the Summer Reading Months

summer reading list

Summer: It’s a time for reading and a time for drinking. Here is our round-up of classic books and booze to stock your shelves with for this season’s summer reading!

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Starting with a classic for your summer reading venture! And yes, you should definitely watch the movie after reading this. They synopsis:

Set in New York City and the lowcountry of South Carolina, the novel opens when Tom, a high school football coach whose marriage and career are crumbling, flies from South Carolina to New York after learning of his twin sister’s suicide attempt. Savannah is one of the most gifted poets of her generation, and both the cadenced beauty of her art and the jumbled cries of her illness are clues to the too-long-hidden story of her wounded family. In the paneled offices and luxurious restaurants of New York City, Tom and Susan Lowenstein, Savannah’s psychiatrist, unravel a history of violence, abandonment, commitment, and love. And Tom realizes that trying to save his sister is perhaps his last chance to save himself.

With passion and a rare gift of language, the author moves from present to past, tracing the amazing history of the Wingos from World War II through the final days of the war in Vietnam and into the 1980s, drawing a rich range of characters: the lovable, crazy Mr. Fruit, who for decades has wordlessly directed traffic at the same intersection in the southern town of Colleton; Reese Newbury, the ruthless, patrician land speculator who threatens the Wingos’ only secure worldly possession, Melrose Island; Herbert Woodruff, Susan Lowenstein’s husband, a world-famous violinist; Tolitha Wingo, Savannah’s mentor and eccentric grandmother, the first real feminist in the Wingo family.

The Prince of Tides

Cocktail Pairing: After Midnight

1 oz. bourbon
½ oz. amaretto
½ oz. dark crème de cacao
½ oz. half-and-half

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Serve cold.

Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence by Peter Mayle

This is one of my all-time favorite summer reading picks. I own the paperback and hardcover version of this book because why just have one copy of one of your favorites? It is light, it is fun and it makes you truly believe that you can start fresh and end up in a place you’ve never dreamed possible.

With his national bestsellers A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence, Peter Mayle gave new meaning to the phrase “great escape.” Now he has written a delightful novel of romance, adventure, and tongue-in-cheek suspense, set in the beguiling French region he has staked out as his own.

While reading, you must pair this novel with pastis. Obviously.


Pastis is an anise-flavored spirit and apéritif from France, typically containing up to 100 g/l sugar and 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume), although alcohol-free varieties exist (but why would you opt for that?!).


Photo: “Pastis1″ by Peng

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

God only knows what possessed Bill Bryson, a reluctant adventurer if ever there was one, to undertake a gruelling hike along the world’s longest continuous footpath — The Appalachian Trail.

The 2,000-plus-mile trail winds through 14 states, stretching along the east coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine. It snakes through some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes in North America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas.

With his offbeat sensibility, his eye for the absurd, and his laugh-out-loud sense of humour, Bryson recounts his confrontations with nature at its most uncompromising over his five-month journey.

A Walk in the Woods book

For this summer reading selection…methinks some moonshine…which is really just white whiskey. Plus if you happen to bring this book while actually hiking on the Appalachian Trail (or just around the block), you don’t want to weigh yourself down too much. So pour this potent stuff in a flask and throw it in your backpack for the ultimate reading/hiking companion!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

You’re already hooked, right? I thought so. Read it while sipping on the Provence Lavender Cocktail (recipe below) ideally somewhere outside in a picnic setting.

Provence Lavender Cocktail


  • 1 1⁄2ounces gin
  • 3⁄4ounce dry vermouth
  • 1⁄2ounce Cointreau liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons lavender syrup (see Provence Lavender Cordial-Syrup)
  • ice, to serve
  • fresh oranges or lemon twist, for garnish
  • 1 sprig of fresh lavender, for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except garnish), into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Then strain into a chilled tall glass, and garnish with a citrus twist and sprig of fresh lavender.

Provence lavender cocktail

Photo: BecR

Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton

Wrapping up our summer reading series with a blockbuster! I of course tore through this book the same summer that I saw the movie released in theaters. It was even more fun than the movie and made the story that much more classic for me. And it’s very fitting to read before Jurassic World comes out this summer as well! Who’s excited for that? This gal!

The synopsis of Jurassic Park: A Novel:

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Until something goes wrong. . . .

One of my favorite quotes from the movie (totally worth re-watching right after you read the novel):

Jurassic Park woman inherits the earth quote


I know this summer is seeing some amazing new books coming out, which I definitely urge you to check out! However, summer reading for me has been picking up my age-old favorites and re-reading them to live through the memories all over again. The above are some of my go-to choices for those warm summer months when you want to escape, dream and breathe in the slow summer air…while sipping a cocktail of course.

There are oh so many more books that can be included in this list. Share your top go-to summer reading favorites in the comments! Have a perfect summer cocktail? Include that too! Here is to a long and fabulous summer. Cheers!

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Rachel Yeomans
Editor at Lit with a Twist
I'm a writer, reader and dreamer. I'm proud to be the editor and creator of Lit with a Twist. My co-editors, Ella and Fitzgerald, can't be trusted. Probably because they're cats.