Book and a Beer is a regular feature here at Brews + Books – a chance for authors, brewers and bloggers to tell you a little bit about their favorite books and beers.
Steff Deschenes is the author of The Ice Cream Theory, a charming new book about life, love and ice cream. In addition to being an author, Steff blogs at SteffDeschenes.com. Like most of us, the author is also on Twitter at @SteffDeschenes.
In lieu of writing more about The Ice Cream Theory myself, I’ll defer to Deschenes.
The Ice Cream Theory by Steff Deschenes (duh!)
The Ice Cream Theory is a charming “self-help” book that draws a unique parallel between ice cream flavors and human personalities, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the variety inherent in a well-lived life.
While I agree with this snapshot summary of what the book’s about, I disagree, and have from the start, with “self-help” bit of that statement.
But then again, I’m allowed to.
Because I’m the author.
I didn’t have much of a choice, though. When it came time to pick a genre for my self-published book, “Super Cool Almost True, but Somewhat Inaccurate Anecdotes from My Life” was not a viable option. So, the powers that be shuffled me into “Self Help: General.”
Which makes me feel altogether silly – because, really, what the heck does a twenty-something know about life outside of their own little world?
Apparently something more than nothing, considering the book has gone on to win ten independent book awards and has had had a number of glowing reviews from ice cream companies, bloggers, and newspapers.
The reviews tend to say the same thing. “Her writing style is conversational and down-to-earth,” which I know is true. Friends, and even fans who’ve met me after reading the book, tell me its uncanny how similar reading the book is to talking to me in real life. That’s good. I like that. Every author strives to find their literary voice, and if I’ve found mine so strongly at such a young age, then I know I’m doing something right.
Reviews have also said, “It takes a special kind of braveness to put one’s life out there for the entire world to judge.” The line between bravery and stupidity is very small though. Writing about raw, honest thoughts and emotions about ex-boyfriends has resulted in several late-night, overly-drawn-out conversations with said ex’s to discuss what was written about them and us. As a general rule of thumb, I make them take me out for ice cream if they want to talk.
And, across the board, reviewers agree that “by the end of the book, you come away thinking and looking at yourself, the people in you know, and your life experiences wondering what flavors would match up.” Success!, considering that’s kind of the whole point of the book.
There are a couple of things, however, that not a single reviewer, blogger, friend, or family member seems to have picked up on. And, if I was asked to write a review about The Ice Cream Theory, I would have made it a point to focus on the fact that:
A) There isn’t a single curse word in the entire book – the language, while sassy and filled with adult references and undertones, is entirely PG; and . . .
B) There isn’t a single social, pop culture, or brand reference made.
Both of which were done intentionally, and are relatively impressive. Especially the latter of the two: to be able to write an entire book about ice cream, and yet not once actually reference or name an individual store or brand is especially remarkable, if you ask me.
We are an impressionable society constantly surrounded by influences from the media, multi-billion corporations, and the entertainment business. It’s nice to be able to think for ourselves on occasion, and I’d like to think that I contributed to that by creating something devoid of such references. I also am under the personal opinion that when we include celebrity or brand names in our art, then we are dating ourselves. In essence, by excluding that, I feel I’ve written something timeless.
And the no-swear-word rule simply originated as a “can I do it?” concept, because I tend to have a potty mouth. I quickly realized that I could still effectively say what I needed to say sans any colorful language, and create a delightful story that is apparently readable and relatable to regardless if you’re seventeen or seventy-seven.
With its upbeat, conversational tone and broad appeal, The Ice Cream Theory is not a typical “Super Cool Almost True, but Somewhat Inaccurate Anecdotes from My Life” kind of book. It’s a must read for anyone bruised by life’s tough lessons and in need of a cheerful pick me up!
Or so the reviewers say!
I wasn’t much of a beer drinker (in my opinion all beer tasted the same – like throw-up). I used to lie to boys at bars and tell them I was allergic to hops, which would get me out of whatever cheap drink they were trying to sweet-talk me with.
Despite my dislike of it, I’ve always been respectful of beer as it’s been the foundation in which my entire career started from: I began as a Jack Daniels model which opened doors with other alcohol distributors, and soon became one of the top beer spokesmodels in the area. That opened doors and eventually I became the marketing specialist for Guinness in New England. I used the money from that lucrative job to self-publish The Ice Cream Theory.
After a year and a half of total sobriety (I had a torrid love-affair with my aforementioned friend Jack that didn’t end well, so I gave my liver a much needed break) my rediscovery and reintroduction to the world of adult beverages, this time in moderation and appreciation, was all thanks to beer.
I had stumbled across a recipe for beer bread, and was intrigued being the carb lover that I am. The recipe called for only five ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and beer. I always had the first four ingredients on hand and knew that PBR cost $2 at the store down the street. Overall, it seemed like pretty cheap eats!
The beer bread turned out awesome! It was thick and flavorful, and I couldn’t get enough. So every week after that, on Friday afternoon, I would walk down to the liquor store and purchase a random bottle of beer. Baking is a science, so it was fun to watch how each beer’s individual chemical properties reacted to the other ingredients constantly producing bread that was a little different tasting, feeling, and looking from the last one.
EventuallypI found myself standing in front of a giant display of Sea Dog’s Bluepaw Wheat Ale. Everyone around me seemed to be drinking it by the bathtub full, and feeling particularly seasonal one day I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.
It turned out to be the best beer bread I had made all summer!
Immediately – entirely forgetting that other beers even existed – I found myself buying two Blue Paws every weekend; one to drink while using one to make the bread. To me, it seemed like such a versatile beer: refreshing when it was hot out, great with pizza, and something that held its own as a social drink. I also loved it because not only did I feel great supporting a local brewery, but there was something about the subtle notes of blueberry that lingered in the back of my throat after I had swallowed that was actually very pleasant.
And not at all reminiscent of throw-up!
This doesn’t mean I’m a convert, though. Should you find me in a bar and want to buy me a beer, I’ll most likely tell you I’m allergic to hops . . . until next summer.
When blueberry beer is available again.