Do I Like Food or Books More?

A week before we returned to Austin, a friend of mine emailed asking if I’d be interested in taking an open slot in her book club. I went back and forth, wondering if I’d have time to do it, if I’d be interested in the books, etc., but finally decided that yes, I’d commit (she’d made it clear to me that this wasn’t a “come when you feel like it, read the book if you want” kind of book club. This was a “read the book, show up on time, be ready to engage in a serious discussion” kind of book club).

I’ve now been going for four months and it is, no joke, the highlight of my month. I love this book club so much, it’s almost ridiculous. The eleven other women are smart and interesting, and our conversations are so rich. The books are (almost) all wonderful and interesting (since I joined, we’ve read What the Dog Saw, Poems: New and Collected, Mayflower: A Story of Community, Courage, and War, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan).

I shall not bore you at length with the details, except to tell you that the food at these meetings is beyond fabulous. Two people are assigned food each time we meet and last night, I was one of the food people.

As you can imagine, I did not take this burden lightly. I made Chocolate Carmel Crackers (I know, I know, but seriously, people, they are so good you could die. Bart even texted me TWICE during bookclub to tell me how much he loved the ones I’d left behind for  him). And Banana Bars. And crostini and vegetables with both artichoke dill dip and jalapeno popper dip. And I was only half of the food committee. . .

Needless to say, I don’t eat dinner on the nights I go to bookclub.

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  • Reply RA December 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Cheesy though it is, I love love love how my book club does theme food to go along with the book. Over the 3 years we've been meeting, my favorite nights have been Southern desserts for The Help (I made a caramel cake like Minnie's, which was to DIE for) and Spanish-style tapas for The Shadow of the Wind (I cheated a bit and made dulce de leche brownies, which is more Latin American than Spanish, but no one complained). Oooh, but our Julia Child night for My Life in France was amazing, too.

    Our book club is also fairly serious, but we don't have stringent attendance. There are maybe 14 people on the list, and we have anywhere from 4-12 people at each one. If you come, you know that we'll talk about the book and not much else, but it's not a super high-pressure situation.

  • Reply jpetroroy December 17, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I think I must make those Chocolate Caramel Crackers immediately.

  • Reply Melanie December 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Like RA, I love making food that somehow ties to the book. When we read Great Expectations I made Mrs. Havisham's "wedding cake" (it didn't really look like a wedding cake, but there were fake spiders and spider webs around the base).

    I would like to know what the key to a successful book club is. I have some amazingly intelligent, voracious reader friends, but we never manage more than a couple at our meetings. We vote on the books, rotate meeting places and times, and have great discussions between those that do attend, but it's been really hard to get this book club to thrive.

  • Reply Rhiannon December 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I have all the ingredients for that jalapeno popper dip. I'm pretty sure that's a sign that I have to make it tonight.

  • Reply lacie tidwell December 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    the chocolate crackers are AWESOME! My visiting teacher brought them last year (made with Saltines- HEAVENLY) and I begged her for the recipe! SO GOOD! Book clubs are awesome. Oh and snow flower and the secret fan- one of my favorite books- love Lisa See. Anyhow love the recipes!!! happy book clubbing!!!

  • Reply Lady Susan December 17, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I would love to be part of a decent book club but 1) I would have to find time to read–not a hot commodity right now and 2) Finn would have to be consistently down for the night. Again, not something I can count on. *Sigh*

  • Reply Jeanelle December 18, 2010 at 2:54 am

    I've made those crackers but using grahams. Seriously awesome. And isn't party food just the best? We had a Christmas party Weds night and I'm eating leftover salmon mousse for dinner tonight.

  • Reply Science Teacher Mommy December 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I thought you were going to make us choose. My comment to that would be that it is a false dichotomy–food and books are two things on a very short list that make life worth living!

    My book group met on Thursday. We read The Giver and did sort of a Christmas theme. We had marinated cheese, hot chocolate (with cream), biscotti, peanut brittle and cookie dough truffles. What a night!

  • Reply Packrat December 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Like Science Teacher Mommy, I thought you were going to make us choose.

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife December 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I wish I were in your book club! It sounds amazing!

  • Reply Tara December 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    My stomach is rumbling thinking of all that good food.

  • Reply Yankee Girl December 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    The number of times I say:

    "I heard about this book from this great blog about reading"

    vs. the number of times I say:

    "I heard about this recipe from this great blog about reading"

    = just about even.

  • Reply Amy Sorensen December 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    oooooh…I want a book club that reads Wyslawa Szymborska. I would love to find a book club but so far the ones I've almost joined haven't been right for me. At any rate, I am happy you have found one you love! Moms of little ones need a get-away I believe. I also thoroughly believe that good food & books go together. You can't choose…food AND books are a life necessity!
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Reply Peaceful Reader December 27, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Ha Ha…I am part of a fabulous book club that combines delicious food with great conversation. I am the youngest member of the group, which I thought might be a drawback, but I love this circle of strong women. Thank you for sharing the recipes. I may use them for our January meeting.

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