Book Club Basics: Food

Food, and the options for it

Book club can be a way to turn reading into a more social experience, and adding food to the mix strengthens that social connection. It can be as simple as cheese and crackers, or it can be an elaborate meal, but either way it can be a valuable addition to your meetings.

Booked {Reading Together} | Book Club Food

Connecting the Menu to the Book

Many books seem to lend themselves to having a food connection, and in that case you may want to try and tie the two together explicitly.

Pinterest is fabulous for this sort of thing: search for the book title and you may find some great pins. Or, simply doing a Google search for the book title plus book club menu turns up lots of ideas.

No clear ideas based on the book itself? Think about its setting, and if that prompts ideas. Jane Austen novels cry out for a tea-party theme (as mentioned yesterday). A story set in Spain might inspire you to try a tapas evening, etc.


There are even books available that provide recipes or complete menus tied to particular books. The Book Club CookbookThe Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, The Book Lover’s CookbookThe Book Lover's Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them by Shaundra Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen, and Recipe for a Book ClubRecipe for a Book Club: A Monthly Guide for Hosting Your Own Reading Group by Rose Storey and Mary O'Hare are all full of ideas for your book club – from simple snacks to complete meals.

A final idea for selected classic novels: check out the website Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. I love her creative takes on literature-inspired menus – see this sample one for The Wizard of Oz.

How We Do It

When it fits with the book, it’s been fun to try and match the refreshments to the book. While Pinterest can lead you to think this has to be incredibly elaborate, we still keep it quite simple: Parnassus on Wheels led to a wheel of cheese and a round loaf of bread. The Road from Coorain included Tim-Tams along with the rest of the tea. We’ve also had great success making recipes from food memoirs for our book club dinner party, which has added lot to the enjoyment of those books. (More on this later).

Night Circus refreshments

Some questions to consider

Will the host provide the food, or will it be BYOS (bring your own snack)? Is it officially part of hosting duty, or explicitly not the host’s job, limiting their role solely to providing the location?

Perhaps you’ll already be meeting at a location that’s conducive to having food as part of meetings, but there are still things to consider. If you meet at a restaurant or coffee shop, you may want to warn members to arrive a few minutes early if they want to order food, so the discussion can start on time. Or perhaps you want members to get refreshments after the discussion has ended, in which case you should make that clear as well.

Booked | Reading Together | A Series All about Book ClubsBooked: Reading Together

This is part of the Booked: Reading Together series. Throughout October, I’m writing all about book clubs.

Check out the archives in case you missed a post.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Eiffel’s Tower by Jill Jonnes
Two years ago: 31 Days of More Great Nonfiction: The Flamboya Tree
Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: An Innocent, A Broad

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Thank you to Sarah Ronk for the photo included in this post!


  1. Thanks for the mention! 😀

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