Indulge with perfectly paired books & chocolate

Chocolate and books are unarguably a match made in heaven … I mean, chocolate is the ultimate single-handed hunger cure: you don’t even have to put the book down to keep gobbling. But making the right chocolate-book match is the difference between a romance and a horror story.

Let’s be honest, when we’re engrossed in a good book us bookworms don’t welcome interruptions … of any kind.  Even hunger pangs can be infuriating when the book is exceptional.  For this reason, serious readers prepare themselves for a semi-hibernation state with admirable dedication, and this includes selecting snacks that only require the use of one hand to partake.  After years of dedicated research I can safely and confidently say … with great authority … that chocolate is the bookaholic’s friend.  And in cases of extreme bookishness (i.e. both hands required at all times to hold up a particularly chunky hardback – think Robert Galbraith’s latest, or Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami) it’s perfectly acceptable to plunge face first into the box of chocolate and snaffle a square without ever losing the page.

But with great chocolatey-bookishness comes great responsibility.  You can’t go gobbling just any cocoa-based confections willy-nilly.  Oh no!  Decades of librarian instilled discipline has conditioned us to categorise books by their nature.  And authors have poured months (even years) of tears, back-spacing, head-in-hands moments into their books.  They deserve us to pay serious attention to the chocolate we select when reading their wonderful wordsmithery. Fortunately, I’ve applied myself fastidiously to this important matchmaking, and I’m pleased to share my findings with you …

Thank you to the lovely Judy for letting me use her delicious
artisan Belgian chocolate bars for the purposes of my research. 
It’s A Chocolate Thing

Action & Adventure

I’m a chicken!  I fear fear.  But I love a bloody good adventure when I can partake vicariously.  Hence, my deeply ingrained quest for high-stakes, high octane books that’ll have me on the edge of my seat.  My armchair daredevilness isn’t just confined to the fiction shelves … a momentary glimpse at my Amazon non-fiction wish list is more than a little suggestive of my hitherto hidden thrill-seeking nature.  All that relentless adrenaline calls for a no-nonsense sugar kick, so I reach for a double whammy sweet treat to keep me at the top of my game.

Salted Caramel 
Melt-in-the-mouth Belgian caramel-milk chocolate finished with a light dusting of sea salt to indulge those salty-sweet cravings. 

Nibble with:

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Official Secrets by Andrew Raymond
Click on the image to read my review of this book

Thrillers & Suspense

Readers of thrillers and suspense novels are spoilt for choice right now – shelves are literally groaning under the weight of new titles, with more highly anticipated books due to land in time for Christmas.  It’s probably fair to say that this category is singularly the biggest culprit for the rate at which book bloggers’ TBRs are spiralling out of control.  For me, a good thriller will generate goosebumps … it needs to make me feel uneasy enough at night that I have to put on EVERY light in the house, and perhaps even avoid visiting the loo in case a face (other than mine) pops up in the mirror behind me, coupled with chilling screechy mind-music.   And so I reach for a dark, minty chocolate to really double-down on those chilling sensations.

Midnight Mint
A sophisticated bar of glossy, dark Belgian chocolate, laced with an airy chill of peppermint essential oil.  This bar is divine with a coffee … or a cheeky espresso martini!  

Nibble with:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce
Click on the image to read my review of this book
Now You See Her by Heidi Perks
Click on the image to read my review of this book

Romance

Be still, my beating heart! It’s hard to resist a feel-good romance novel … so why hold out against the promise of something that’ll thaw even the frostiest of hearts? Personally, I tend to give the quirkier paranormal-romance types a wide berth, and I’m soooo pleased I didn’t waste my precious pennies or time on any of the Fifty Shades books. But when a well-written story, with romance at its heart is recommended to me, I light some candles, set up a suitably mellow playlist, unwrap some unashamedly sweet white chocolate, and surrender myself to the welcoming embrace of good, old fashioned love.

Eton Mess
The velvety sweetness of Belgian white chocolate and vanilla will hit you first, followed by the tang of freeze-dried strawberries and the delicate crunch of meringue pieces.  

Nibble with:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin
Click on the image to read my review of this book
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
Click on the image to read my review of this book

Classics & Literary Fiction

I don’t know about you, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to settle in to literary fiction and the classics. Both genres feature pretty high on my list of faves, and I make a beeline for these shelves when I nip into a bookshop, but if I were to construct a pie chart of the books on my shelves (fear not, I’ve not done so!) for some reason these two fabulous genres would be in the minority.  Their prose, style, tempo and language are thought provoking … and so they demand a sophisticated chocolate.  

Ginger & Pepper
Spicy-sweet crystallised ginger and tingly black pepper bring an intoxicating warmth to this Belgian dark chocolate bar.  For a dash of added indulgence, enjoy this a glass of port – they work a special kind of magic together! 

Nibble with:


Historical Fiction

These are my happy place – the books I reach for when I want to be totally absorbed into the pages of a rich, engaging, immersive story.  The sheer scope and range of historical fiction guarantees that I’ll never tire of the stories they have to offer; I’ll never find myself reading something and think how samey it is to something I read last month. But it’s the context of these books that really captures my imagination … they’re all set against a backdrop of real events making them all the more compelling.  I finish every book feeling like I’ve stepped back into my life after a brief dalliance in another skin, another time, another city.  Stepping back in time through pages calls for a nostalgic nibble, and so I had no option other than to select my all time favourite … and somewhat retro … chocolate choice

Black Forest
The seductive one! Pops of sour cherry punch beautifully through the rich, dark Belgian chocolate.  A glass of gently warmed brandy, or amaretto over ice, flirt outrageously with the rich flavours of this after-dark bar.

Nibble with:

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Parisians by Marius Gabriel
Click on the image to read my review of this book
Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger
Click on the image to read my review of this book

Magical Realism 

Like all life changing moments I can tell you exactly where I was when I was first enchanted by magical realism … but I won’t bore you with that.  But I will happily extend my thanks to the author who continues to light up my reading glasses with her wonderful books; Joanne Harris … of course!  She bewitched me with Chocolat, and she continues to weave her wordy magic to this day.  I love her books, and I love the effect they have on me.  This is a genre that’s become a bit cluttered with pale imitations, but every now and again a real gem of a book is written, and it’s a genuine delight to succumb to its bewitching words.  My chocolate of choice for all magical realism books is (unsurprisingly) inspired by the Chocolat series … it can only be:

Chilli Bar
The tingle of chilli flakes subtly ignite the rich and earthy cocoa flavours in my Belgian dark chocolate.  This exquisite alchemy dates back to the ancient Mayans and Aztecs … it’s the chocolate of aficionados.

Nibble with:

Catch The Moon Mary by Wendy Waters
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Fantasy & Science Fiction

On days when I fancy retreating a little further from reality than usual, I’ll happily reach for a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Nothing too dystopian or apocalyptic though.  I love the escapism afforded to us by books, but my frame of reference is more The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe than StarTrek.  Books that wonder too far off the intergalactic path tend to leave me behind. A sprinkling of magic is what I’m seeking; something delicious and unexpected, but still a bit familiar.  That’s why, when I’m immersed in fantastical pages, I reach for a bar of:

Mint
Dreamily creamy Belgian milk chocolate infused with zingy peppermint essential oil.  Shamelessly moreish on its own … and simply magnificent chilled, cracked, and sprinkled with reckless abandon over a bowl of the best quality vanilla ice cream you can lay your hands on. 

Nibble with:

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas
Click on the image to read my review of this book
Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow


Crime, Mystery & Police Procedurals

Aren’t we all armchair detectives? I’m a publisher’s dream when it comes to selling a crime/mystery book … they don’t have to work too hard to catch my attention.  Like the most bingeworthy television crime dramas, these books engage me best when I believe in the characters and the worlds they create. I’m not a fan of anything overly bloodthirsty (hence the lack of horror books in this blog) but if I’m given a book with at least one character that evokes a strong emotional response, I’ll be hooked.  And to hold my attention it needs to be complex and smart, with misdirection and circular narratives that keep me guessing, and ideally a gasp-worthy twist or cliff-hanger at the end.  So, a chocolate bar that keeps you guessing has to be the only partner in crime for such a book, hence …

Rocky Road
The bar for pleasure-seekers!  As the Belgian milk chocolate melts on your tongue it reveals shards of sweet meringue, nibbles of oaty biscuit, and chewy pillows of marshmallow. 

Nibble with:

Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox
Click on the image to read my review of this book
The Health of Strangers by Lesley Kelly
Click on the image to read my review of this book

Thank you for indulging me by reading my ramblings. If the chocolatey parts of this blog have tempted you, then I hugely recommend you hop over to Judy’s chocolate website – It’s A Chocolate Thing – to snap up a few bars for yourself … or even start your Christmas gift shopping.

6 thoughts on “Indulge with perfectly paired books & chocolate

  1. What a creative post! As a complete chocoholic as well as a bookworm I love your recommendations. I also think you saved the best til last with the rocky road! 📚🍫❤️ X x x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s