A Reader’s Drinking Game, First Edition

[Editor’s note: The idea for this post came from a Book Riot reader on Twitter. So thanks, S.M. Hineline!]

You know the rules: When X occurs, you take a drink. It’s simple as can be. And it works for just about everything, from Lady Gaga songs to the Oscars to Russian novels. Here’s our bookish version.

If you’re reading Dan Brown…

(Suggested beverage: Swill — perhaps a nice Keystone Light or Milwaukee’s Best)


  1. Take a drink whenever you encounter an italicized, supposedly dramatic and profound, thought. (Example, from The Lost Symbol:Katherine’s destiny is to light this torch. Mine is to destroy it.” …dum dum DUM!)
  2. One drink whenever someone says “Holy Grail” or “Masons.” Two drinks if said in a whisper. Three drinks if said by Robert Langdon in a dramatic whisper.
  3. When art is interpreted, a mathematical equation extrapolated, or key plot point revealed in dialogue — chug that Keystone!

If you’re reading Leo Tolstoy…

(Suggested beverage: What else? Vodka)


  1. When someone blushes, do a shot. (Tolstoy characters, Levin and Anna Karenina, especially, seem to blush about as frequently as a nun watching Jersey Shore.)
  2. When a character contemplates the meaning of life, you contemplate doing a shot! (Ex: Levin, Andrei, etc.)
  3. The story unexpectedly jumps forward in time several weeks, key plot points (like someone dying) happen off-page. Scratch your head, and do a shot.

If you’re reading The Help

(Suggested beverage: A refreshing mint julep.)


  1. Skeeter bucks convention? You do too — take a sip.
  2. A character cries. You console yourself with some julep!  (Two sips if the crier is Celia.)
  3. Hilly does something delightfully condescending and/or blatantly racist. You calm your anger with a sip.

If you’re reading Gravity’s Rainbow

(Suggested beverage: Well, first, punch yourself in the face. Then, grab something stiff: 151 rum, perhaps)


  1. Every time a guy gets flushed down the toilet in a drug-induced dream, do a shot. (This only happens once, but remember, you’re drinking 151 rum.)
  2. Every time Tyrone Slothrop beds a European woman, do a shot.
  3. Whenever you’ve read four pages, and realized you spaced out and have not the foggiest notion of what you just read, put down the novel and do a shot. (Be careful. This will happen frequently.)

If you’re reading Harry Potter

(Suggested beverage: Virgin daiquiri. Hey, if you’re an adult reading books for kids, I won’t judge you. But no booze for you!)

RULES: (Thanks to Book Riot editor-in-chief Jeff O’Neal for these.)

  1. Harry is impressed by magic? You gotta drink coming your way.
  2. When Hermione gets annoyed by Ron and/or exasperated with anything — sipski.
  3. When Dumbledore says something cryptic — enjoy a drink of that smooth alcohol-free cocktail.

If you’re reading David Foster Wallace…

(Suggested beverage: Let’s mix our high- and low-brow. A 30-year single-malt Scotch — with a Miller Lite chaser.)


  1. Two or more conjunctions in a row to start a sentence, drink! (Ex: And but so…)
  2. When you plow through a sentence that is more than 50 words or a paragraph that traverses more than a page — take a breath, and then a drink.
  3. A word you’ve never heard of before? Drink! (Ex.: “lalating, pg. 788, Infinite Jest)

There you have it. Enjoy. But keep in mind, this is only the first edition. This game has infinite potential. CHEERS!

What other reading drinking game rules would you like to see? (Twilight and Game of Thrones fans, get in there!)