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Mocktales: Re-tellings of the Classics

Anjela Martinez
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Anjela Martinez from Harris County Public Library recommends "mocktales" - books that retell the classics with a twist. 

It’s five o’clock somewhere... 

…but the library. While we’re not allowed to peruse through the stacks with a drink in hand, we can peruse recipe books for cocktails. A favorite cocktail book of mine is Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist. Federle crafts a menu of cocktails inspired by literature’s greatest stories, as he describes them: “SparkNotes with a liquor license.” These cocktails are a fun way to spruce up your reading. Let’s face it, getting through War and Peace calls for a drink. 

Feeling inspired by Federle’s literary twist on cocktails and needing a topic for this week’s Book Buzz, I asked myself, what is the literary version of a mocktail? It eventually dawned on me that retellings of the classics, or “mocktales” as I now like to think of them, are just the thing. So, here are three recommended reads found in Tequila Mockingbird: based on Rye & Prejudice, Moby-Drink, and Joy Luck Club Soda. 

There are an abundance of Pride and Prejudice retellings. As a most ardent fan of Jane Austen’s works, I do not take Pride and Prejudice retellings lightly. Some retellings are well worth the read, and some are well worth forgetting. Ayesha at Last is a modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice set in Toronto that remains true to the original. It is easy to find Elizabeth Bennet in the outspoken, aspiring poet Ayesha and Mr. Darcy in the judgmental Khalid as the two banter and fall in love. Featuring controlling mothers, a supportive best friend, a flirty cousin, and gossiping aunties, Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is well worth the read. 

Though renowned as a must read, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick tends to lead to more groans than cheers. After my own required reading experience with Moby Dick, I have never felt the need to revisit Moby Dick, that is until The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook. Set in the Texas Hill Country, Benjamin Shreve (Ishmael) relates the story of his half-sister, Samantha (Ahab), as she tracks the panther (Moby Dick) that mauled her and killed her mother. Filled with adventure, humor, and Texas, this western is a welcome retelling of Moby Dick

Since its publication in 1989, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club was an instant classic. Being a product of 1989 myself, I can attest that the date is not what makes The Joy Luck Club a classic, it’s the family dynamic in the story that made it an instant classic. Though not described as a retelling, Family Trust by Kathy Wang, focuses on the challenges of being a family. Stanley Huang is the patriarch of a first-generation Chinese-American family in Silicon Valley and he is dying. Each member of the Huang family must each deal with Stanley’s illness and their own struggles. Witty and candid, Family Trust will appeal to fans of The Joy Luck Club

For more “mocktales” visit Overdrive and please remember to drink and read responsibly. 


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