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A Literary Drinking Game

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Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Sometimes a book has repeated phrases or actions. Sometimes writers have quirks that are repeated in everything they ever wrote ever. Sometimes you can’t help but turn reading into a literary drinking game.

We’ve done a more extensive literary drinking game before, but this one is simple.

Take a drink every time…

… Bartleby says “I would prefer not to” in Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.

… Junior gets punched in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

… Humbert refers to Lolita as variations of Dolores in Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita. (If you want to get crazy, also drink every time you see the word “nymphette.”)

… Mark blows something up and/or almost kills himself in Andy Weir’s The Martian.

… Ana refers to her “inner goddess” in E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.

… You are asked if something sparks joy in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

… Gatsby says “Old sport” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

… Ron makes a phallic double entendre in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

… You spy “And yet.” in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.

… “Deadpanned” is used as a verb in any John Green novel.

… You run into a dash in any Emily Dickinson poem.

… A footnote contains a poop-related joke in any Mary Roach book (But mostly in Gulp).

… Maddy talks about how much she loves The Little Prince or how much she hates Lord of the Flies in Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything.

… Fire is mentioned in Toni Morrison’s Sula.

… Point-of-view shifts without warning in any Jane Austen novel.

… Scout, Jem, and Dill find something hidden in the tree outside the Radley house in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

… Someone hallucinates in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

… The old cookbook is mentioned in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You.

… A sentence is longer than a page in any William Faulkner novel.

… A veiled sexy double-entendre is spotted in any William Shakespeare play.

Happy drinking! And reading. Be safe, etc.