Fun Activities for Books Clubs by Linda Rosen
Over forty years ago, I started a book club in my town with ten women. We are still going strong, though faces have changed over the years. We meet in each other’s homes once a month and, similar to the way many book clubs work, we take turns choosing either a novel or memoir to review.
Not only do we gather in members’ living rooms, we have also travelled to an author’s home. Although clubs cannot simply invite themselves, if you have an “in” with a writer, as we had, and you are invited, take advantage of it. It’s tons of fun and a wonderful way for the group to bond. Our first trip was to Cambridge, Massachusetts to visit with Nomi Eve and discuss her debut novel, The Family Orchard. It was a weekend get-away, since Cambridge is four hours from us. We had a fabulous time. Nomi showed us the actual family tree that inspired her book. Several years later, we were invited to her home again, this time in Philadelphia, to discuss her evocative novel, Henna House. We showed up in two cars with her name and the title of the book hanging from the doors.
If going to an author’s home is not possible, invite her to yours if she lives within driving distance, or an easy train ride. Elizabeth Nunez accepted our invitation to come to a member’s home to discuss her book, Boundaries. I picked her up at our local train station. Those few minutes alone in the car with a writer whom I admired was very special. In Nunez’s thought-provoking novel she includes Caribbean delicacies. We found the foods on the internet, ordered them and served. She was thrilled and we got to taste the actual foods, making the reading experience come alive.
Centering your book discussion around the food and drink mentioned in a novel is a great way to live, not only read, the story. In addition to the foods in Boundaries, when my club read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, we drank Pu’er tea, the tea that shaped the family’s destiny in Lisa See’s unforgettable novel.
Another idea is to treat the author to dinner in a restaurant near the members’ homes, if she’s local. Adding variety to your meeting place keeps the group alive. Or you could use the weekend
get-away idea, though not going to an author’s house. Invite her to a restaurant near where she lives. If possible, choose one that serves the foods depicted in the novel. Discuss the book over a meal. And wine!
If meeting in person won’t work, Skype. Most writers can be contacted via their websites. I can and would love to join you to talk about The Disharmony of Silence. You might like to prepare the succulent braised brisket mentioned in Chapter Two or taste the rugelach from Chapter Eight, a delicious buttery bite-sized pastry.
Happy reading everyone!