This is a neat little book about the history of the old-fashioned, which–as you’ll find if you read it–is far more contentious than one might assume! Small vignettes about notorious bartenders, responses to Prohibition, and the various reputations surrounding various versions of the drink reflect Simonson’s copious research as well as his knack for retelling it. My favorite aspect of the book, being a lifelong Wisconsinite myself, was the appearance of our state in the story of this shapeshifting cocktail. (Spoiler: Wisconsin is one of few places in which the preferred recipe of the old-fashioned has remained unchanged and popular through time… since the early 1900s!) There are also over 40 recipes for variations on the old-fashioned at the end of the book. The photographs throughout the book may be the actual star of this book, though–they are deliciously atmospheric and quite lovely.
Mosquitoland is one of the most solid, playful, surprising young adult novels I’ve read in a long time. David Arnold creates a Holden Caulfield for the 2010’s in the capricious Mim Malone, a narrator whose voice reminded me acutely of my own high school journals. As Mim rides a Greyhound Bus nearly a thousand miles north, she encounters oddball characters and situations that help her piece together her view of the world, and–allowing for the wholly unbelievable mostly because I’ve ridden a Greyhound bus and know what it’s like AND because romance deserves a shot–this book pretty close to perfect. This is such a new, refreshing story and will make you laugh and cheer for Mim Malone, who defines herself as “not okay,” but ends up being so much more.