book club or snack club?

July 31, 2014

woman with book

A neighborhood book club one of us joined has three unwritten rules: come comfy, it doesn't matter if you've finished the book and come hungry. We found that saying this eliminated a lot of the stress that comes with one more thing on your calendar.

Book club shouldn't be an obligation, but a welcome chance to get out, see friends, talk about characters you love and love to hate and munch on something tasty.

That doesn't mean it needs to be fancy. Too many of us have gotten trapped in the shame spiral of worrying that our kitchen isn't spotless or we didn't whip something up from scratch. No one cares. Hosting book club is not a competitive sport. Read that last sentence again. Really, it's not.

snacks and drinks

Our discussions begin with the book, but even when we've all read it, we can veer off point and back again in a matter of minutes. Plot, setting and analyzing why she decided to turn and walk out of the front door at the very end can give way to discussions of in-law visits, great babysitters, a not-so-great day with a toddler, construction and summer plans.

Some book clubs are about sticking to the book. Others let things go where they will. But all book clubs seem bound by snacks.

Because they're more than food, they're social watering holes, the residential equivalent of the corporate water cooler, the common denominator. We bond over food and common experiences. And some of our best conversations can happen when we're talking with our mouths full. That doesn't sound quite right, but you know what we mean.

So fire up your summer book club with 31 Great Summer Books from RealSimple.com or The 2014 Summer Reading Shelf from Goodreads.

ladies outside

For newbies looking to pull their group together, try How to Start a Book Club or 14 Ways Not to Kill Your Book Club for ideas on how to keep a successful group going, both from Oprah.com. These are guides and suggestions, not mandates. Your book club is your book club and you should do what works best for you and your group.

And if that means opening 5 bags of chips while you all sit cross-legged on the patio furniture in your pool cover-ups, sipping a big batch of lemonade and talking about the books you half read and the summer vacation spots where you swore to finish them, then so be it.

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