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The beverages most associated with reading are tea and coffee. But many readers love to cozy up in bed with a book and a glass of wine. Great weekend pastime.

Our resident librarian, who is, of course imaginary, happens to be a part-time sommelier. So we asked her for recommendations on what books are best read with a glass of something and what books require the purest level of sobriety.

Following her recs is a great way to get the most out of your reading experience.

Freshwater is an ogbanje story. It follows Ada’s many transformations through states of being both god and human.  A full-bodied red wine is recommended here. There are portals to be opened in this book! The wine will minister to you as you travel the many world held in Ada’s beautiful body.

A Stranger in Olondria, one of Samatar’s celebrated novels, conjures aromas of spices, dusty books, and the enchantment of oral storytelling. The book gets extra tingly with a peppery Spanish red.

Achille Mbembe’s writing generally has a poetic note, which might signal wine as a good enhancer. But, there is so much to take in from Achille Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason that it is best read with the bottle at bay while reading. A philosopher and political theorist, Mbembe charts a history of global capital by showing how colonialism has preyed on various ways of distorting and defacing black lives.

The Returnee is a hip a story about the city of Lagos, brimming with tales of Instagram posts, #squadsgoals, parties, fashion, luxury living, heartbreaks, and whatever else you imagine African millennials do in their free time. A Zinfandel will set you in the mood to get lost in Okoh’s posh take on Africa’s most enigmatic city.

Temperance will do you some good while reading Open City. Julius is a Nigerian psychiatrist based in New York. In his free time, he walks the city of New York while his mind races in a thousand directions in deep reflections about classical music, Renaissance philosophy, histories of violence, and so on. Between the constant walking, sometimes in circles, and Julius spiraling down the rabbit hole of history, you’ll get the most from the book if you keep your wits about you.

You might know Stella Nyanzi as the poet imprisoned by Uganda’s President Museveni. She wrote No Roses from My Mouth in jail. Keep a clear head while reading this one. Nyanzi wrote these poems from a place of pain and deep insight. She shares truths about the plight of women and the inherent violence of patriarchy. The only thing to accompany this book is a good pen for underlying lifesaving quotes.

The Famished Road tells the story of Azaro, a boy with eyes touched by magic. The Famished Road is actually not a book. It’s an experience. It is 500 pages of hanging out with mythic creatures, monsters, spirits, and human characters who act like otherworldly beings. You will go on astral trips. You will tumble into places, and a rabbit hole is the least of them. Any chilled white wine with excellent structure will do. A whole bottle, as opposed to a glass, is recommended to unlock the mysteries of Azaro’s world.


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