A Cuppa’ Words: Pairing Literary Mugs with Books

In March I tried a book buying ban. It sort of worked. I made it three weeks. In that time, I upped my mug game. I drink a lot of tea, a lot, and have subtly and successfully weeded old mugs in our family’s collection and replaced them with ones I approved (especially any mug with a literary reference). A connoisseur of mugs, I spent a lot of time thinking about how they’d pair with tea—and with books. Here are my best mug-to-book pairings from my favorite mugs from my personal collection and the awesome novels that go so well with them. Because there’s nothing better than matching a huge mug to a huge book, or a novel that references a beloved author to their best books or modern reinterpretations of them. Grab your favorite mug and read on for my favorite literary mug pairings.

“Frankly My Dear” Cat Mug with 

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall

"Frankly, My Dear" Cat Mug

“Frankly, My Dear” Cat Mug

the wind done gone alice randallPerhaps you’re in the mood for a little sass, maybe with a cat involved? My “Frankly My Dear” Cat Mug was an impulse buy from Kitchen Kapers, a great kitchen supply store in Center City Philadelphia (and elsewhere). The mug’s tagline references one of the greatest lines in all of literature and film—“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” from the 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (1936), though the novel doesn’t use the word “frankly.” For a thought-provoking interpretation of Mitchell’s bestseller, check out Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone. Randall’s novel will take the rosy glow off Mitchell’s romanticized Antebellum South. The Wind Done Gone explores the life of a powerful biracial woman and her experiences in a challenging environment. The mug is deep—just like this novel, so they are a perfect match.

Recommended tea pairing: lemon ginger herbal.


Famous first lines mug with

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Famous first lines mug

Famous first lines mug

storied life of aj fikryThis mug features famous first lines from classics across the history of literature, from ancient Greek literature to Virginia Woolf and George Orwell. This novel goes so well with Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. The novel is framed as a series of letters about short stories to the daughter of the novel’s hero, the eponymous A.J. Fikry. Countless references to famous quotes from literature are sprinkled throughout the novel, which is truly a bookworm’s dream. This mug goes well with the novel since it seems as if A.J. designed it himself. Reading over the lines printed on the mug, you’ll experience some of the same thrills that the literary characters in the novel feel.

Recommended tea pairing: oolong.


Starbucks “Hello” telephone mug with

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Starbucks "Hello" telephone bug

Starbucks “Hello” telephone mug


“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell

Although this Starbucks mug is not strictly a literary mug, the design looks like it stepped off the cover of Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, a novel about the semi-sci fi connection Georgie has with her husband, Neal, during the snowy days before Christmas. I think of this as my go-to mug for when I need caffeine, a lot of caffeine, since the mug holds 16 ounces. Whenever I am burning the midnight oil on a deadline or know I need to wake up to concentrate on my writing—or even just need to stay awake to watch Game of Thrones late on a Sunday night—I brew some coffee or tea and fill this mug up to the top. I highly recommend it as a pairing with late-night readathons or when you’re settling in to tackle a lengthy novel.

Recommended tea pairing: Tazo’s Passion.


Shakespearean insults mug with

Fool by Christopher Moore

Shakespearean insult mug

Shakespearean insult mug

Fool Christopher mooreOur Shakespearean insults mug has been in the family for more than a decade, and it remains one of the best mugs to give to fellow literature lovers when they come over for a cup of tea. Naturally this mug pairs well with Christopher Moore’s Fool, a hilarious novel that reinterprets Shakespeare’s King Lear through the eyes of his court jester, the fool. You might want to let the tea cool a little before you start this one. You won’t want to risk spilling steaming hot tea when you’re laughing.

Recommended tea pairing: English breakfast.


Library card mug with

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Library card mug

Library card mug

library at mount charThis library mug, from our very own Book Riot store, is an awesome shade of canary yellow and never fails to put a smile on my face. With its nod to vintage library circulation cards, the mug is born to use while devouring a library-themed novel (of which there is no shortage). My pick would be the surreal and subdued but fascinating and dreamy The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. This novel was named one of the best books of 2015 by Rioters and Book Riot readers, no doubt because of its fascinating premise—about a group of misfits learning to live in a new reality in the wake of their teacher’s death. The struggle over his library, and the profound power it offers, drives the narrative of this fantasy-mystery-horror novel. This library mug is thick and holds heat well. Given the constant WTF nature of this deliciously bizarre novel, you’ll want a steady constant to get you through the read.

Recommended tea pairing: Prince of Wales.  


Do you have any literary mugs? What are your favorite mug-to-book pairings in your collection?