100 books like Soju

By Hyunhee Park,

Here are 100 books that Soju fans have personally recommended if you like Soju. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

In China there’s an expression that roughly translates, “It’s not a meal without alcohol.” The converse is equally true: Chinese alcohol yearns to be paired with food. This list would thus be incomplete without a book that seriously delves into Chinese food culture. And in many ways, my own journey into Chinese spirits was an unintentional compliment to Dunlop’s earlier book. We both learned from local experts, followed our respective passions around China, and spent the bulk of our time in the idyllic Sichuanese capital of Chengdu. I especially appreciate Dunlop’s willingness to explore uncomfortable cultural dissonances, and the compelling and poignant case she makes for overcoming them.

By Fuchsia Dunlop,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop went to live in China as a student in 1994, and from the very beginning she vowed to eat everything she was offered, no matter how alien and bizarre it seemed. In this extraordinary memoir, Fuchsia recalls her evolving relationship with China and its food, from her first rapturous encounter with the delicious cuisine of Sichuan Province to brushes with corruption, environmental degradation, and greed. In the course of her fascinating journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship at China's premier Sichuan cooking school, where she is the only foreign student in a class of nearly fifty…


Book cover of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

Patrick McGovern is an archeologist on a mission to discover ancient tipples. In Uncorking the Past he recounts several of his most significant finds, including the world’s oldest-known manmade alcoholic beverage at Jiahu, a nine-thousand-year-old site near the Yellow River in north-central China. The story of its discovery—and recreation with Dogfish Head Brewery—is fascinating, but the explanation of the role of alcohol in neolithic Chinese life makes it required reading.

By Patrick E. McGovern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Uncorking the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a lively tour around the world and through the millennia, "Uncorking the Past" tells the compelling story of humanity's ingenious, intoxicating quest for the perfect drink. Following a tantalizing trail of archaeological, chemical, artistic, and textual clues, Patrick E. McGovern, the leading authority on ancient alcoholic beverages, brings us up to date on what we now know about how humans created and enjoyed fermented beverages across cultures. Along the way, he explores a provocative hypothesis about the integral role such libations have played in human evolution. We discover, for example, that the cereal staples of the modern world were…


Book cover of The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai (Li Po)

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

Li Bai is the best known of China’s “Eight Immortals of the Wine Glass,” a group of Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) poets famous for their drinking prowess. Using historical records, Ha Jin’s biography is a portrait of a frustrated half-Chinese outcast, brilliant but arrogant, who struggles to find a place in a world where talent alone is not enough. Brought down to earth, Li the man is less inspiring than the legend but far more sympathetic.

By Ha Jin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Banished Immortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his own time (701–762), Li Bai’s brilliant poems—shaped by Daoist thought, filled with an irrepressible lust for life—were never given their proper due. Nonetheless, his lines rang out on the lips of tavern singers, soldiers, and writers throughout the Tang dynasty, and his deep desire for a higher, more perfect world gave rise to his nickname: the Banished Immortal. With the instincts of a master novelist, Ha Jin draws on a wide range of historical and literary sources to weave the great poet’s life story, following Bai from his origins on the western frontier to his rambling travels as…


Book cover of Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science

Derek Sandhaus Author Of Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

From my list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Derek Sandhaus is an award-winning American author of several books on Chinese history and culture. He worked as an editor, publisher, and tour guide in Shanghai, then moved to Chengdu and turned to drink. In 2018 he co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu with China’s oldest distillery, and now spends most of his time talking about Chinese alcohol to anyone who will listen. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and a very well-traveled dog.

Derek's book list on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Derek Sandhaus Why did Derek love this book?

During the height of the Second World War, British biochemist Joseph Needham traveled across China with his assistant H.T. Huang to study Chinese scientific development, braving breakthroughs, and Japanese incursion along the way. Needham spent the next half-century compiling his findings into the Science and Civilization in China series, which rewrote our understanding of China’s place in world history. The story of its creation, and the colorful characters behind it, is memorably told in Simon Winchester’s The Man Who Loved China, a book that sadly had little to tell us about Chinese drinks. This volume, however, written by Huang, is the urtext for understanding the development of Chinese alcoholic beverages.

By H.T. Huang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Science and Civilisation in China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today Chinese cuisine is enjoyed in many parts of the world, yet little is known in the West about the technologies involved in making its characteristic ingredients. H. T. Huang's book is the first history of Chinese food technology in a western language. It describes the conversion of agricultural commodities into food and drink, and explores the origins, development and scientific basis of traditional Chinese technology as applied to the processing of four food categories: the fermentation of alcoholic drinks from grains; the conversion of soybeans into soyfoods and condiments; the preservation of foods and the production of noodles, vegetable…


Book cover of Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual

Frank Caiafa Author Of The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

From my list on to start a drinker’s library.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in a ‘hospitality forward’ household to say the least. My parents always had family and friends over the house eating and drinking and although no one was in the food and beverage industry, most of the folks all had something to say about food and beverage. It was a fundamental part of the conversation. It carried over to me and became something that I focused on even before I was ever in the service industry. With experience, I became more knowledgeable, and my tastes became wider and a bit more refined, but the seeds were planted long ago.

Frank's book list on to start a drinker’s library

Frank Caiafa Why did Frank love this book?

When recommending books on drinking and drinking properly, not necessarily making drinks properly, there are few recent releases that cover this ground. Jeffrey’s fun primer on the basics of drinking, its culture, and traditions make this a great first floor requirement in the skyscraper of imbibing. I would add that this would be a perfect gift for novice enthusiasts as it will help dodge plenty of missteps for sure.

By Jeffrey Morgenthaler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drinking Distilled as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An opinionated, illustrated guide for cocktail beginners, covering the basics of spirits plus making and drinking cocktails, written by celebrated craft cocktail bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

This easy-reading, colorful introduction for cocktail beginners, with approximately 100 succinct lessons on drinking culture, spirits, and cocktail making, is delivered in the pithy, wry style Morgenthaler is known for in his instructional videos and writing for beverage publications. Novices will learn how to order a drink, how to drink with the boss, how to drink at the airport, and more. Twelve perfect starter recipes—ranging from a Dry Gin Martini to a Batched Old-Fashioned (perfect…


Book cover of Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants

Erica Hannickel Author Of Empire of Vines: Wine Culture in America

From my list on the history of booze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at Northland College (WI) and an American environmental historian with specialties in wine, food, and horticulture. I mostly write on alcohol, garden history, botany, and orchids. The history of alcohol is wild, fraught, and charged with power—I’ll never tire of learning about it.

Erica's book list on the history of booze

Erica Hannickel Why did Erica love this book?

A sensual cultural history mixed with economic history, specifically the rise of capitalism, Schivelbusch launches an interesting argument—that one particular substance, or taste, has often defined the zeitgeist of whole nations for definitive periods. This book is wide-ranging and general in its treatment of alcohol, as well as several other drinks and spices. There are excellent imaginative connections made, and the book invites thinkers to think deeply and broadly about the meaning of intoxicants in history and in their own lives.

By Wolfgang Schivelbusch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tastes of Paradise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the extravagant use of pepper in the Middle Ages to the Protestant bourgeoisie's love of coffee to the reason why fashionable Europeans stopped sniffing tobacco and starting smoking it, Schivelbusch looks at how the appetite for pleasure transformed the social structure of the Old World. Illustrations.


Book cover of Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South: An Informal History

Ida Flowers Author Of Jessie's Passion

From my list on everyday life in the Southern colonies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I started reading the Little House series at the age of ten, I’ve been in love with women’s history. In college I had the opportunity to write a paper on the topic of my choice and I chose women of the American colonial period. I found that while our daily life is now very different, our feelings as women are much the same. The more primary sources I discovered, the more I could feel the fears, sorrows, and joys of the determined women who came before us, unwittingly creating records of their experiences in their correspondence and journals as they built homes and businesses from the raw, wild land.

Ida's book list on everyday life in the Southern colonies

Ida Flowers Why did Ida love this book?

My grandfather hunted squirrels to put in the stew pot, raised turnips and mustard greens, and shared all that he had with family and neighbors. Joe Gray Taylor’s book takes us back to the beginnings of the cuisine and hospitality of the American South where folks made the most of the natural environment and its riches. This book also describes the way people “visited” in the South, sometimes staying with relatives or friends for weeks or months on end, the hosts accepting them naturally, adding places at the table. Taylor covers Southern hospitality from the days of the frontier through the antebellum and Civil War years and Reconstruction, including the richest and the most impoverished populations, reminding me that I myself am just one generation removed from living off the land.

By Joe Gray Taylor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lively, informal history of over three centuries of southern hospitality and cuisine, Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South traces regional gastronomy from the sparse diet of Jamestown settlers, who learned from necessity to eat what the Indians ate, to the lavish corporate cocktail parties of the New South. Brimming with memorable detail, this book by Joe Gray Taylor ranges from the groaning plates of the great plantations, witnessed by Frederick Law Olmsted and a great many others, to the less-than-appetizing extreme guests often confronted in the South's nineteenth-century inns and taverns: ""execrable coffee, rancid butter, and very dubious…


Book cover of Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

Andrew T. Huse, Bárbara Cruz, and Jeff Houck Author Of The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers

From my list on reads for when you’re hungry.

Why are we passionate about this?

Our obsessions with food and history mean that recipes are not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Recipes are an answer to a whole host of questions, challenges, and opportunities, and those are the stories that interest us. A recipe with no history is like the punch line with no preceding joke, incomplete at best.   

Andrew's book list on reads for when you’re hungry

Andrew T. Huse, Bárbara Cruz, and Jeff Houck Why did Andrew love this book?

This well-researched volume explores the history of cocktails in the U.S. through the godfather of bartenders everywhere, Jerry Thomas. 

Since Thomas was the first to systematically record the drinks of his age, publishing his first bartender’s guide in 1862, his writings serve as important historic sources from anyone interested in mixology.  

Bartender guides tend to be terse and practical, reducing storied and noble creations to a few efficient lines of text.  Wondrich engagingly discusses the history and merits of more than one hundred cocktails, all of which illuminate the times and places in which they were created and drank. 

The result is a series of revelations about the drinks, some famous and some forgotten, that imbibers typically take for granted. Just like a good recipe, it takes history, culture, and geography to inspire a good cocktail. Thanks to Wondrich and his research, the history is much more accessible in this…

By David Wondrich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Imbibe! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly updated edition of David Wondrich’s definitive guide to classic American cocktails.

Cocktail writer and historian David Wondrich presents the colorful, little-known history of classic American drinks--and the ultimate mixologist's guide--in this engaging homage to Jerry Thomas, father of the American bar.

Wondrich reveals never-before-published details and stories about this larger-than-life nineteenth-century figure, along with definitive recipes for more than 100 punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, toddies, slings, and other essential drinks, along with detailed historical and mixological notes.
 
The first edition, published in 2007, won a James Beard Award. Now updated with newly discovered recipes and historical information, this…


Book cover of Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis

Michael P. Foley Author Of Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour

From my list on culture and booze.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my fondest childhood memories is the holiday parties that my parents threw. Lying in bed I could hear roars of laughter crash the silence and gently ebb as the grownups shared stories and made merry. Later in life, I came to realize how different that kind of drinking is from the frat-boy binging of college and the anxious bracers at singles’ bars. As an adult, I became a Catholic theologian, got married, and had a family of my own. My wife Alexandra and I have relished an evening cocktail together in order to unwind and catch up on each other’s day (Alexandra has homeschooled all six of our children, which is itself a compelling reason to drink daily).

Michael's book list on culture and booze

Michael P. Foley Why did Michael love this book?

The first book I read by British novelist Kingsley Amis was Lucky Jim, one of the greatest satires on academic life ever written (I do not, however, recommend reading it when you are applying for a teaching position as I foolishly did, since it will mess, mess, mess with your head). Amis enjoyed the drink far more than he should have, earning him the reputation, as he put it, “of being one of the great drinkers, if not one of the great drunks, of our time.” His extensive familiarity with the bottom of a glass bore at least one good fruit. Everyday Drinking is a painfully witty, laugh-out-loud collection of essays and even quizzes on different kinds of alcohol from around the world. 

By Kingsley Amis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everyday Drinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kingsley Amis was one of the great masters of comic prose, and no subject was dearer to him than the art and practice of imbibing. This new volume brings together the best of his three out-of-print works on the subject: Kingsley Amis in Drink, Everyday Drinking and How's Your Glass? In one handsome package, the book covers a full shelf of the master's riotous and erudite thoughts on the drinking arts: Along with a series of well-tested recipes (including a cocktail called the Lucky Jim) are Amis's musings on The Hangover, The Boozing Man's Diet, The Mean Sod's Guide, and…


Book cover of Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

Ian Tattersall Author Of A Natural History of Wine

From my list on the joys of alcoholic beverages.

Why are we passionate about this?

Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle are both curators at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Rob is a molecular systematist who has done research on everything from fruit fly diversity to human language, and Ian is a specialist in the study of human evolution and primates. They have collaborated on several exhibition projects, including the American Museum’s Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, and have written several books together, including the trilogy we are featuring here.

Ian's book list on the joys of alcoholic beverages

Ian Tattersall Why did Ian love this book?

People have been making and drinking alcoholic beverages for as long as the technology has been around that allows them to do so – some 8,000 years, as it turns out. In this glorious gallop through the long and varied history – or, rather, multifarious histories – of beer, wine, and spirits around the world, packed with odd facts that will make you a champ at any booze trivia quiz, Iain Gately entertainingly shows how tightly intertwined the various forms of alcoholic beverages have been over the centuries with the societies that produce them, and how our western love/hate relationship with the demon alcohol has evolved.

By Iain Gately,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spirited look at the history of alcohol, from the dawn of civilization to the modern day

Alcohol is a fundamental part of Western culture. We have been drinking as long as we have been human, and for better or worse, alcohol has shaped our civilization. Drink investigates the history of this Jekyll and Hyde of fluids, tracing mankind's love/hate relationship with alcohol from ancient Egypt to the present day.

Drink further documents the contribution of alcohol to the birth and growth of the United States, taking in the War of Independence, the Pennsylvania Whiskey revolt, the slave trade, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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