Some people start book clubs because they love books. Others start them because they just love having an excuse to hang out with friends over drinks and nibbles. After all, books can open up new worlds - or make for nice, sturdy wine coasters! Whether you want to throw a book group night for literary, social, or gustatory reasons, try these 5 bookish tips for a fun get-together.
- Get on the same page. There are two types of book club members: the ones who feel strongly that the point of a book club is to read, and the ones who believe reading to be optional. To keep the peace between the two groups, it’s best to set the expectations at the outset. When you send out the invite with the book pick and the party logistics, clarify what sort of book club yours is. Finishers only? Nonreaders welcome? Let people know in advance so everyone can plan accordingly - and you’ll enjoy a more relaxed, friendly night.
- Taste the theme. Is your book club reading Sweetbitter, with all the sensuous descriptions of figs and crémant rosé? Then make it a decadent wine and cheese night. Tackling the classic short novel Frankenstein? Bake scary-cute cookies to sweeten the discussion. Almost every book ever written has some description of food in it you can draw inspiration from. To make it simpler, just focus on the culinary traditions of the book’s setting or author’s background. Is the story set in Italy? Pizza time! Japanese writer? Order sushi rolls!
- Invite creativity. If your party guests are game, share your theme before the event and make the get-together a potluck. Popular books like Twilight have inspired entire collections of recipes you can suggest. And tasty novels like Kitchens of the Great Midwest even include recipes for caramel and peanut butter bars. Readers could volunteer to bake one of those, or show off their own prize-winning desserts.
- (Re)name the drinks. Does the idea of coming up with cocktail concoctions to go with your book seem a bit daunting? Here’s the good news: You can just mix the drinks you already know how to mix and give them themed names! Into sci-fi? That caffeinated drink is now Robot Juice. Finally reading Catch-22? Your 7 and 7 is now a Catch-77. You get the idea . . .
- Open the discussion. Sometimes book group discussions happen organically and naturally. But most of the time, people don’t quite know how or where to start, just because there are so many things to talk about. Prepare for this situation by having some questions at hand. Many book publishers and authors provide book club discussion questions on their website - though the best ones might be the unique ones that occurred to you as you were reading the book yourself. Of course, there’s always the great standby question: Did you like the book? This one usually gets groups going for a while, because love it or hate it, we’re all likely to have an opinion.