From Beer Flights to Book Flights
February 27, 2017
Okay, my friend Dana gets the credit for this one. She was selected as a beer tasting judge for the Quad State Beer Fest Amateur Home Brewing Competition after submitting in her qualifications, “but have you ever had a housewife as a judge?” This was a call for an Aimee date to practice housewife beer tasting lingo. Except we did just that---we ordered a flight of beer and used housewife lingo for our final verdicts. Instead of “it’s a heavy beer, but a bit too earthy and lacking in finesse,” we preferred, “This beer smells like my uncle Bob.” You get the picture.
We were able to get together again for dinner over the weekend, and we had a lot to catch up on. I was talking about my recent obsession with learning about life for New England women in the mid-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century. It all started with an innocent enough reading of a biography on Anne Hutchinson, Divine Rebel. That led me to ask a lot of questions, and the next thing you know, I ordered a handful of interesting-looking books. I tend to pick a topic or two every year that I want to learn more about and consequently put together a reading list. But the titles of these latest books are quite intriguing. I mean, once you see a title like The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, it’s a no-brainer---you have to read it. And the book delivers the goods.
Then Dana dropped the genius. As I was talking about these titles, giving my two-sentence synopses on the books, Dana said that we should make book flights for different topics. Her sister-in-law, Laura, had just shared an article with her where wine tasters were throwing around the idea. There we were, on an unseasonably warm day in February, dining on the outside patio of the Main Cup, eating our bomb salads with fried goat cheese, and I realized that all my life I had been missing something---book flights! This should revolutionize the way books stores market. They should offer flights with discounts. Authors, professors, pastors, and informed laymen should put together flights for recommendation.
The usual way to go about tasting a beer flight is to begin with the bottom stair and work your way up. That is, tasters usually start with the lighter beer and move to the darkest, or the beer with less alcohol content to the most. Beer flights are typically 2 to 6 oz. samplings of what is available at your local brewery. But if there is a wide enough selection, you can customize flights by sampling all their IPA’s, wheat beers, or sours, for example.
It makes sense to put together a book flight that may also include lighter, more generalized reading that advances to more detailed and rich learning. I haven’t read all my 1650-1750-ish century New Englander Wimin books yet, and the footnotes are leading me to order more. For example, I’ve all the sudden developed many questions about privacy in New England homes, and sure enough, there’s a book for that. I could see putting together a generalized flight from my little study and then breaking off into specialized flights, like one for the witch trials, one for Anne Hutchinson, one for the few women who did write at that time, etc.
I’m already beginning to think of some housewife (should I say goody?) tasting lines for the books in my flight like, “Pretty sure I’d be tried as a witch and hanged if I lived then, were it not for the one thing I have going for me---my neighbors like me.” I think they do, anyway. In the late 1600’s, you didn’t have to wonder. You find out in the end. And although I have been ordering some of these books used, none of them smell like Uncle Bob. Wait, I don’t’ have an Uncle Bob.
Anyway readers, you know what to do. Start sampling, assembling, and recommending some book flights!