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Writing about Coffee

Despite being a lifelong non-coffee-drinker, I somehow found myself reading two fantastic books about coffee recently.

The first, Miriam Sagan’s A Hundred Cups of Coffee, hijacked me from reading the OTHER coffee book I’d just started. Sagan’s series of short meditations inspired by drinking a cup of coffee (and, occasionally, tea) here, there, and everywhere got me thinking profound thoughts as only Miriam (poet extraordinaire) can, about life, death, and everything in-between.

The second–David Liss’ The Coffee Trader–is another wildly compelling read about coffee, but in a totally different register. It’s a historically based novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam and has way more fascinating character development than a book with this good/fast a plot by rights should have.

Beyond the obvious (human) characters, the major, implicit (non-human) character is the relationship among the highly problematic trio of Secrecy, Trust, and Mendacity. I won’t say more about the gripping story other than to predict that if you are a fan of (or are intrigued by) one or more of the following, you’ll probably love this novel: coffee / Sephardic Jewish history / early-modern Europe / Dutch history / the development of global commodity capitalism / Jewish-Protestant relations / a gripping story (with sub-plots within sub-plots).

Enjoy both these each-in-its-own-way-amazing books over your favorite cuppa (fill in the blank).