Books and brews: A pseudointellectual’s guide to summer

By in Opinions

Gone is the vengeful winter that dug her icy claws into the heart of spring. Summer, awakened from her slumber, greats us with the warm tendrils of her golden sun upon our vitamin D-deficient skin. This is the perfect time to catch up on all the delights and indulgences that were sacrificed to the gods of grades during the academic year.

It’s also the prime time to try something new. Whether you are an avid reader and a seasoned drinker or you need a little convincing, this guide will give you some options and inspiration for this traditional pastime. Here are some books, and their most appropriately paired brews, to fuel your brain and your taste buds this summer.

The Double by José Saramago

Tertuliano Máximo Afonso, a bored and dissatisfied history teacher, rents a movie and discovers his doppelganger. He becomes consumed with thoughts of the double — obsessing over which of the two men is the original. A dark descent follows, as Afonso becomes involved in the double’s life. 

Saramago’s works of speculative fiction delve into the core of the human condition. Exploring the darkness within us and the beauty of our banal moments, Saramago picks at the ugliness that makes us human. 

I recommend the Berry Dark Ale from the Saskatoon Brewery to pair with this tale of duality. Appearing as a stout, the Berry Dark is sweet and light — a tale of two beers hidden in a pint glass.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby 

A heart-wrenching exploration of the depths of one’s memories, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the tale of Bauby’s life after a brain stem stroke left him suffering from locked-in syndrome.

Unable to move anything but a single eye, Bauby wrote the book with the assistance of his therapist. He managed to dictate the story by painstakingly blinking out the alphabet. Bauby died shortly after it was completed. This is a poetic and lovely look into one man’s retrospective of life after a life-altering experience. 

I recommend Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly while reading this masterpiece of determination and vulnerability. This “on the lees” — or unfiltered — beer pays homage to the Parisian backdrop of this autobiography.



The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston 

I am an avid consumer of popular-science books, so naturally, a few of them made this guide. The Demon in the Freezer is not your usual book on science, though. Preston, a former journalist with a flare for dramatic storytelling, tells the tale of the 2001 anthrax scare, the threat of bioterrorism and the history of smallpox. It reads like an action novel while being a non-fictional account of real-life scientists and the victims of ravaging microbes. 

I suggest you sip along to this thrilling narrative with Black Bridge Brewery’s Wheatburst — a strong India pale ale with fruity undertones. This brew is bitter yet sweet, much like Preston’s hyperbolic descriptions of hemorrhagic smallpox.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Bad Science is the perfect introduction for the novice science reader.If you have never picked up a popular-science book, I suggest you lose that virginity to this one. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the subject, you will appreciate Goldacre’s humorous depictions of pseudo-science and embarrassing mishaps. 

To complement this foray into new territory, I suggest an experimental beer combination — a half-and-half blend of Nokomis Craft Ales’ IPA and any generic Radler. It sounds like a Dr. Jekyll kind of brew, but I swear it’s the perfect summer beverage — trust me. 

Insomniac City by Bill Hayes 

This book is a beautiful portrayal of love and loss. Hayes talks about his life with neurologist and lovely human Oliver Sacks. Hayes also reveals past heartache and his battle with insomnia in the city that never sleeps. 

The book’s narrative is interwoven with journal entries and photographs, while Hayes’s descriptions of his partner are both beautiful and perfectly insightful into how we look at the ones we love. 

I recommend pairing this read with Great Western Brewing’s Original 16 Prairie White Belgian-Style Wheat Beer. It’s a sweet, light summer beer — honest, just like Hayes. 

Erin Matthews / Opinions Editor

Photo: Erin Matthews / Opinions Editor

Graphic Illustration: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor