Four (more) alternatives to a traditional book club

Many book clubs I’ve participated in might've succeeded if we'd had an alternative to reading the same book, especially when we didn't share taste in books.A few months ago, I wrote about three ways to shake up your book club with new approaches, inspired by my numerous and varied failed book club attempts.

My current book club operates on the traditional “let’s all read the same book” principle. Still, I can think of many groups I’ve participated in that might have survived if we hadn’t put that particular pressure on ourselves. This is especially true when we didn’t share the same taste in books or the same goals for our book discussions.

I love talking about books and hearing what everyone is reading. In the spirit of creating community (and social events!) around books and reading, here are four more suggestions. They’re tailor-made for readers looking for a social night out and some casual book chatting but without the restrictions of reading a single book. 

Literary game club

The nice thing about these games is we never have to worry about running out of conversation material: The games do the work for us! Besides kick-starting literary discussions, they’re, you know, fun.

Book Lover’s Memory

Jenga: Book Lovers Edition

Ex Libris – The game of first lines and last words by Oxford Games

It Was a Dark & Stormy Night – A Game of First Lines for People Who Love to Read

Who Am I? A Name Game of Literary Stars: Knowledge Cards

Trivial Pursuit Book Lover’s Edition

Art of Conversation Literary

Dick: A Card Game Based on the Novel by Herman Melville

Side note: They’re also nice for traditional book clubs to have on hand for those (rare?) occasions when the group shows up only to discover that no one actually read the book. Ooops. It happens…

Book and movie club

There’s no shortage of films adapted from popular books. A brief survey of just a few of this year’s movies illustrates the point: The Circle, Me Before You, The Girl on the Train, The Light Between Oceans, to name a few. It’s not too surprising, is it? These films hit theaters with a built-in audience!

For book club purposes, you can discuss the book before watching the movie, discuss both after reading and watching, or skip the discussion and just make an outing of it.

Literary road trips

Living in Connecticut, I’m lucky to be surrounded by fascinating literary history and historical sites, basically from all directions. I enjoy getting creative with these – visiting a place where a story is set, an author’s home or neighborhood, a unique or special bookstore or library. In other words, it doesn’t have to be an *official* site. My recent outings have included the Wallace Stevens walk in Hartford, Conn., Weathersfield, Conn. (where The Witch of Blackbird Pond is set), and the Morgan Library in Manhattan.

Literary supper club

For foodie book lovers, a literary dinner party could be just the thing. If it’s a group in which members all read the same book, each person could make a dish inspired by or that appears in the book. Or the group may choose to recreate a meal from within the book, with each member contributing a dish. If the group is reading historical fiction, recreating a historical meal could be fun. For a casual, “we read what we like and share” book club, a potluck could work nicely. Cooking together while discussing a book (or books) is also a nice option.

For inspiration, here are a few titles to start you off:

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

The Book Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger, Janet Jensen

Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels of Jane Austen by Pen Vogler

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards (Unofficial Cookbook) by Dinah Bucholz

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Philippe Beha

Literary Feasts: Recipes from the Classics of Literature by Barbara Scrafford

Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales from Classic Children’s Stories (Myths, Legends, Fairy and Folktales) by Carol Odell, Anna Pignataro

Have you ever tried one of these? Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for non-traditional book clubs? I want to hear all about it?

4 Replies to “Four (more) alternatives to a traditional book club”

  1. Ah, more great ideas! Thanks so much for these! I admit, I’m hankering to start a book club here, once I get a moment or two… This is great inspiration!

    And the supper club one made me think of “The Office” when Pam and Oscar had their book club with a literary-themed lunch/tea, which was so cute and delightful, so thanks for that!

    1. Haha, Alysa – love The Office reference. 🙂 Paris is only the coolest city to start a literary supper club (aside from London, my favorite city ;)!

  2. I’m a member of a Skype book club. We all live in different parts of the country and this is one way we keep connected.

    1. Thank you, Loreen – that is so neat! I love the idea that you’re keeping it going. Were you all friends before you started the book club?

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