What you want in a “going-out book” can vary by time of day and by outfit; Personally, I like to bring a book that complements whatever color I’m wearing, which led to me having a grand old time finishing Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel at a Brooklyn dive bar while dressed in head-to-toe red a few summers ago. The one non-negotiable, though, is that your going-out book must be something you’re truly Excited about reading, something so seductive that just catching sight of it in your tote bag fills you with anticipatory glee.
For my money, there’s no better going-out book currently out there than Marlowe Granados’s Happy Hourwhich follows continental darlings Gala and Isa as they bop around New York City looking for good dates, okay gigs, and great cocktails (potentially not in that order). Happy Hour came out in 2020, which means I wasn’t actually able to take my copy out for the good date it deserved until recently, but when I did, I couldn’t help noticing that the book was the perfect shape and size for fitting into a roomy evening bag. Other great going-out-book authors on my list include Colette, Ruth Reichl, Dorothy Allison, ZZ Packer, Anthony Veasna So, and Torrey Peters, but your mileage may vary.
I’m a little worried that the definition of a proper going-out book I’ve provided until now may have left you with the impression that I think reading is only valuable as a means of flirtation. Let me correct that: Of course reading is valuable for personal enrichment and intellectual development, but also, have you ever had someone confidently lean over and jot their number on a page of your book in ballpoint pen? Me neither, and honestly, I’d be furious and probably demand they Venmo me for a fresh copy, but it’s also kind of a hot daydream, right?
It’s already summertime-hot in Texas, where I live, and I can’t wait to spend the next few months at swimming holes and BBQs and every other marker of 90-degree Southern life with my friends, but when the sun starts to set , you’ll know where to find me—perched on a stool at the oyster bar, flipping through something good (I’m leaning towards Lillian Fishman’s Acts of Service for my next going-out book), blithely unaware of anything but the freshness quotient of my drink and whatever’s going on the page in front of me. Literary bimbo summer for the win!