Every now and then, people need a good book party, don’t you think? Hosting a book club can be a little intimidating for some people (maybe people like me with very small children who tend to make a mess every fifteen minutes). When I decided to host book club once this summer, I dived into Pinterest for ideas (hence the book page table runner! Do not think I came up with that on my own, lovey). Now that book club night has passed, I figured I’d share the love on ideas for book clubs.
First off, I picked a book, Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (I’ll do a review later). I’d seen this title on summer to-read lists and a friend of mine who does book and movie reviews (that’s you, Christa Banister!) recommended it on Twitter, and I trust her taste. Book chosen. Next up, find friends who like to read! (This can be more challenging than it sounds!) Some of us are in regular book clubs so maybe it’s just your turn to host. In that case, you can skip this step. If not, just throw it out there that you want to do a book club–either an ongoing one or a one-time thing and see who responds. Be brave!
Once you’ve got your readers, choose a night to meet. Some people are in clubs that meet weekly or bi-weekly for book club and they discuss as they go through the book. This works well for nonfiction, but for fiction, that format doesn’t work for me. For one thing, when I’m sucked into a good book, I want to read the whole thing and talk about everything. Plus, meeting weekly can be difficult with schedules. Just see what works for you and your friends.
For me, this was a summer read. We took about six weeks to read the book, then landed on a date that worked for most of us (very rarely will you find a date that works for everyone. That’s okay). As we got closer, I sent out an evite. Even though we landed on a date earlier, the evite helped a lot. Guest list, address, time, what to bring–it’s one place where you can give out all the info (and it’s cute. What can I say? I like cute!).
Next up, food. Extremely important. Second only to wine.
Eight Hundred Grapes is about a family who owns a vineyard. So I knew I wanted to serve grapes (of course) and wine. Cheese was a perfect fit. I also made bruschetta, because, well, I love to eat it. Good stuff. Add in some simple chocolate desserts, and you’re good to go. I had trouble finding the discussion questions for the book online. True story. So I tweeted the author, who was totally cool and immediately sent me the link to the discussion questions, which I printed off. Excellent.
Obviously I was a crazy woman, cleaning and going nuts the day of the party. This always happens so I assume it’s normal. Finally the Jeffster left with the kids and I was at least able to be crazy by myself. I wanted to play music during the appetizer-part of the party. However, 90s music helps me clean. I was cleaning right until the door rang, which means I didn’t have time to turn it off. Nobody seemed to care. (Really, who doesn’t like Jann Arden’s Insensitive?) (P.S. I did switch the music later.)
Everyone arrived on time. Wine is a great icebreaker. Talking or eating first makes people nervous. Pouring a glass of wine never does. Anyway, so, I had a stack of plain notecards (actually, I couldn’t find mine. So I texted my next-door neighbor who was coming over and she brought some. Thx, Jessica!). The notecards were for people to hold on to and ask around for other book recommendations. The idea was that everyone should go home with three book recommendations (hopefully that they heard while talking to someone new!). This gave people new book ideas and also served as a conversation starter if they needed one.
We mingled and talked and ate for an hour or more before finally sitting down for discussion. Obviously, if time is a factor then you need to have a schedule. However, it was Friday night and all of us moms were finally kid-free and ready to party together!
I was so pleased with the book discussion! Everyone shared and I loved hearing the different opinions. I think it helps to sort of have a moderator because without that, people start only talking to the person next to them. Some of this is okay and to be expected, but if you want to discuss as one group, you have to keep things moving together. Having those discussion questions gave us a jumping off place, but it was totally fine for the conversation to go in all sorts of directions. When four hours and five bottles of wine later, friends are still laughing and talking–you know the night was a success.
Honestly, I loved every minute of book club night at my house. If you’re part of a regular club, don’t be afraid to host! And it doesn’t have to be fancy! This was my one-time hosting for summer, so I decided to make it into a party. There’s just something special about sharing our stories with each other. That’s the best part. We begin by talking about Eight Hundred Grapes, and that segues into sharing about Nancy’s life in Africa, or Ryanne’s time in SoCal, or Heather’s anniversary trip, or Danielle’s dad, and so on. Then we’re sharing pieces of us. When books bring people together, you know that’s a fabulous thing.
Summer book club. Go for it, lovey.