Sometimes the food accompanying the book club discussion is better than the book. Although some book clubs serve wine, I have never been to one. One of my favorite women, however, always served champagne when it was her turn to host; I don’t remember any of the books we discussed, but I remember the champagne.
If you are ambitious or just want to impress, books with suggestions for food to enhance the discussion have ideas from casseroles to desserts: Judy Gelman’s The Book Club Cookbook and Table of Contents are two of my favorites. The My Recipe website has a list of book with links to recipes.
I might like a book club focusing on the food first, and then the book.
Here are my suggestions for easing the discussion by pairing food with books. The recipes are on my other site – Potpourri with Rosemarie – just click on Recipes.
- for J. Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Pat Prager’s chocolate peanut butter bars
- for Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic, Aunt Isabelle’s Chocolate Tipsy Cake
- for Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, Christmas tree buns
- for Isabel Allende’s In the Midst of Winter, Chilean cazuela
- for Antsley Harris’ Goodbye, Paris, Grandma Elsie’s Mandel Bread
- for any book – chocolate popcorn
What are your ideas for good food with good books?
It’s that time of year again; book clubs are organizing their lists for monthly discussions. How do you pick books for your book club?
When my book clubs identify books a few years old, I’m often reluctant to reread, especially if it would require me to take notes on the characters; however, a time-honored book by one of my favorite authors is never a chore, and I relish immersing myself in the story again. Wallace Stegner’s Crossing Into Safety appears on one list, and the title jarred me into remembering why I liked it so much – it’s worth rereading to get that feeling again.
Not many book clubs identify best sellers or just published books – maybe because those books are not readily available in the library, or maybe because they just haven’t come to the attention of the group. Sometimes when I am reading a new book, I wonder what others would think about it, but it’s often years before it appears on a book club list. My good friends across the waters often save me with immediate discussions by email.
Now and then, a book I’ve missed appears on a book club list – usually nonfiction and finally in paperback – and I am grateful to know it. Book clubs can trigger a new interest or provide an informative window. I still remember reading and discussing Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Hottentot Venus and Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, and gaining new insights into areas I never would have picked to read about.
Here are a few selections for discussion from book clubs I’d like to join. Have you read any? Are any on your list of books to read soon? The first set is from my friends in California, the second is closer to home.
- The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
- The Good Daughter by Jasmine Darznik
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegman
- Prairie Fires: The American Dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
- The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
- The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
- The Overstory by Richard Powers
- Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan
- All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski
Discussing a book at the library – what a novel idea. Children’s story time has long been popular at local libraries, but adults – sometimes strangers – gathering to dissect a popular book is the anomaly rather than the rule. Yet, what better place to talk about books – among books – provided you can find a corner where the librarian will not shush the voices.
In my travels through California, I found an article in the local newspaper announcing two library venues for book discussions – both midweek and in the morning, so readers must not be among the working group. The local calendar in the newspaper included a discussion of “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson and another of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I haven’t read either book yet, but I have been to book club discussions where that doesn’t matter so much. Somehow, one in the library seems to require some preparation, but maybe I’ll just stop by to listen.
Have you been to a book club discussion at a library?
In Lynn Neary’s article for NPR – Now You’re Talking! The Year’s Best Book Club Reads – five books made the cut. Two I’ve read and reviewed:
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
Two are on my library wait list: The Round House by Louise Erdich and NW by Zadie Smith; The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin is the last on Neary’s list – one I might skip over.
The local book club has two of my favorites on line for next year:
Rules of Civility
What will you be talking about next year?