I'm strictly a beer man, except for about seven weeks in midsummer when I switch to gin and tonics, the cocktail perfect for sipping in the hammock. It's a simple ritual — slice of lime, clink of ice, quinine-infused fizz — a marker that I've made it through the long Midwestern winter, if not unscathed, then at least with the capacity for joy still in my heart.
My summer reading season officially begins as soon as I taste the piney juniper of good gin. And each summer, it seems my taste in books shifts along with my taste in libations. Instead of diving into newly released titles as I usually do, I tend to reread the books I read the summer I turned 20, the summer of 1995, when I became serious about writing, when I went to Europe and met my wife. These stories are simmering with nostalgia, yearning and the high hopes of endless summer evenings.