My whole life I have been a marathon reader. Once I am in it, I prefer to be IN IT, and not put down a book until the very last word has been read. Other people read to fall asleep. Not me, if I know I need a good night’s rest I must steer clear of books, especially richly-written, historical novels. A night owl by nature, the act of staying awake until the diurnal birds started chirping became such a normal part of my childhood routine that by the time I was ten my dear parents entirely abandoned all attempts to enforce bedtime. Once I’d mastered the ability to devour chapter books and began to fall in love with individual authors, usually of the lady variety (I’m looking at you Laura Ingalls Wilder), my mom would simply stop by my room on her way to bed, offering a reminder that school was indeed happening the next day, whether I slept or not.
I continued to read like this for years. Time would stand still as I immersed myself in the worlds of Louisa May Alcott, J.K. Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Madeleine L’Engle, then later as an older teen and young adult, in the worlds of Laura Esquivel, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison, Geraldine Brooks, and Nadine Gordimer. Bathing, conversing with other people, and being anywhere but the couch, my bed, or a blanket in the backyard were unnecessary during these times of solitary novel consumption. Meals consisted of nut, vegetable, cracker, and cheese plates and big bowls of popcorn. (And once I was an adult living on my own, bottles of wine).
Fast-forward to present day. Long gone are leisurely afternoons leading into late nights occupied by nothing other than a brilliant book and a glass of wine. Working mom life is BUSY and constantly interrupted. That’s not to say I no longer read. At present, while I would love to be consumed by a tale so moving I detach from daily life for hours on end, moments to read avail themselves in fits and starts. While I will always prioritize new releases from my longtime favorite authors, I am currently avoiding stories that will suck me in too deep.
This was all a long-winded way to explain that the two novels mentioned here are, in my opinion, not exactly soul-touching works of brilliance. They are lovely little stories; curious enough to read start to finish, but not so fascinating that you’ll need to read start to finish in one night, or one week. I completed both Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer over the last two months, chapter-by-chapter, on trains, planes, and while my husband sulked over baseball (sorry honey). These two novels compelled me to follow the characters’ complex, if not always earth-shattering, stories. I stayed engaged, but without the desperate thirst to read every word immediately. Much has been written about Meg Wolitzer and bestseller Jodi Picoult, so I will leave the real book reviews to the experts and just say – both books, while not short, are easy and enjoyable reads. NOW, let’s move on to more important matters: Wine for not-too-deep, yet not-too-light, just-right-for-the-moment reading.
My father-in-law, and my in-love-with-all-things-Portuguese (including her husband) sister-in-law have been purchasing cases of a fabulously drinkable, wonderfully affordable red from the Beiras region of Portugal. The majority of vineyards in this central-northern area, stretching from the Atlantic coast (Bairrada) to the Spanish border (Beira interior), grow the Baga grape, which is blended with Merlot to form the current Edelman family favorite, Dão Sul 2012 Quinta do Encontro Q do E Red (Bairrada). This is not a fancy wine; please don’t serve it with an expensive steak. DO, however, serve it with pretty much anything else, or spend naptime sipping it on the stoop with a good book and a bowl of popcorn like yours truly. Can’t find the orange and black Q do E label? No worries, go ahead and ask your wine merchant for a Portuguese Bairrada in the $10 range, drink up, and tell us your thoughts in the comments.
I was going to write in-depth about an organic Spanish grenache blend I am crazy about but I fear I’ve ran out of room, so you’ll just have to trust me on this, buy more than one bottle of: Mas Marer 2012 Montsant. Side note: New Yorkers, if you have a chance to go in person to Chambers Street Wines, please, go! Jamie, David or any of their staff will happily help you select the best bottle for your bucks.
Lastly – tell us in the comments about the not-too-heavy books you’ve been reading and the not-too-heavy red wines you’ve been drinking this fall. And remember, paperback only :-).