10) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Paired with: Bloody Mary
because you’re probably still drunk and/or nursing a hangover from the night before and are trying to impress a classmate from your 9 a.m. by talking about how transcendental The Beats were.
9) The Circle by Dave Eggers
Paired with: Gin and Tonic
because that’s probably what Mae Holland would drink and like OMG isn’t it crazy how like The Circle could totally be happening in our society right now and no one would know?
8) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Paired with: Long Island Iced Tea
because half of you is a runaway teen and the other half is an old man who can speak to cats. And neither of you could make it through all three parts of 1Q84.
7) Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Paired with: Dry Martini (with a splash of pesticide)
because like Maurakami, you really love literature that gestures to Kafka so you can talk about Kafka without having to actually read any Kafka. Bonus hipster points if Steely Dan is playing in the background. Kafka.
6) Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
Paired with: Water & Lemon
because the philosopher notoriously stated that alcohol, like religion, just dulls the pain. So bring Zarathustra up at a party when someone asks you why it is you’re not drinking, then maybe tell them you’re working on becoming a pure celestial being. 10/10 guaranteed to make new friends.
5) Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Paired with: A Shot of Fireball
because the obvious choice would be an actual margarita—but after downing your shot, you can point to the devil on the bottle and tell your Tinder date he was a slight-of-hand magician who throws a spring ball in Moscow in this forgotten Russian classic.
4) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Paired with: that vaporized vodka drink Tom Haverford gets on Parks and Rec
because you’re avant garde…but mostly because this book is 100% whacked-out and so your drink choice should be too.
3) L’Étranger by Albert Camus
Paired with: Cabernet Sauvignon
because life is dry and bitter and you might “accidentally” shoot someone on the beach because the sun got in your eyes. Hipster bonus points if you’re a sociopath.
2) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Paired with: Rye Whiskey on the Rocks
because you’re a real man, not a real phony. And you totally don’t wince every time you take a sip.
1) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Paired with: PBR Tallboy
because you, my friend, have officially made it. Because absolutely nothing got in between you and a one-thousand-seventy-nine-page novel (but maybe with the help of Infinite Summer). Because you probably have a framed photo of DFW, in his white bandana, on your bedside table. Go ahead, crack that $2 tallboy and tell me all about how I’m really a baby who just wants my mother to stand over my bed repeating “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry” for all of time. I’ll be at the bar.
Tali Cohen is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech. She likes thinking about outer space, soy milk in her coffee, and hopes to one day be able to do a cartwheel.