Thursday, August 17, 2023

Drinkin' 'n' Readin'


I have never particularly associated drinking with reading. Is it more fun to read while having cocktails? Well, yes, but I like most things better while having cocktails. Five or ten years ago there was a mild fad for book group meetings in pubs, and maybe even a couple of incidences of after-hours library beer-drinking book events, but none of that lasted long. And beyond that paltry bit, there is no great connection I can find between alcohol and reading.

Nevertheless, for decades, I have been on the receiving end of book donations. I have probably taken part in the receiving of thousands of boxes of books over the years. And while there are several interesting through-lines in those donations, the one that most regularly grabs my attention is this:

Half of every box used for donations of books is a liquor box. Cheap wine, cases of vodka, gummy liqueurs, and plenty of whiskey; people with books apparently drink like fishes! 

But it's not like any library patrons, who tell me plenty of stuff, ever come in and say "I drank a bottle of wine last night and read Crime and Punishment, and it was fantastic!"

They also never seem particularly drunk.

Or maybe everybody always seems a little drunk, so I can't tell.


  1. The classic role for liquor boxes is for packing, of course, because they are so strong. Back in the day, if one were preparing to pack and move, the first step would be to check local liquor stores for empty boxes. A not-classic role is for seating. In 1970 I ran a summer program for kids. I left the dividers in liquor boxes and taped them shut to creating seating for kids to sit and watch cartoons.
    But the real reason I'm writing today is to direct you to the current (September) issue of The Atlantic, page 21. It makes me think of some of your pictures.

    1. So... everyone isn't sloshed? Disappointing!

      As an occasionally slightly sloshed person I have to say I never see in the liquor store any boxes I would trust for sitting on! Have they gotten flimsier?

      I ran upstairs to look at the Atlantic and forgot the page number! Did it have lions and stuff in it? A thought ran through my mind and I don't think it's even true, so I might have to work it out in a future column, but it's this:

      "I hate everything I don't love."


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