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One of the reasons I started this blog is to share with other book club aficionados (or aspiring clubbers) notes from the Wine Lovers Book Club (WLBC) meetings. Our book club has been going strong for almost ten years with all of the original members. You’d think after all that time that one or more of us would have lost interest or gotten too busy or moved on for another reason, but we’re like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson: mostly wholesome and in it for the long haul.
What it is the secret to our longevity? There are many other clubs out there that I’m sure are great too—in fact, just saw that Reese Witherspoon started an impromptu club in 2017—but here are the reasons I think at least one person says every time we meet, “I love our book club.”
Veto Power and Open Minds
There are nine women in the WLBC that span three generations (baby boomer, Gen X, and millennial), each who brings a unique background and perspective and reading taste to the club. At the end of each club, the host for the next meeting shares 3 – 4 options for our next read, including page number and the jacket blurb, and then the rest of us vote for our favorites. Or our absolutely nots.
We know the genres that are generally off limits—science fiction/fantasy, for example, is something Kim and I read, but others not so much; by the same token, I’ve asked for a ban on non-fiction, but every now and then a non-fiction book sneaks in, like the fabulous The Glass Castle.
One of the great things about book clubs is you end up reading books you would not normally have chosen, but reading too many books that you hate would be a definite turn-off for a book club. We manage to strike the right balance by giving each member veto power and by keeping an open mind to reading outside our comfort zones.
Food and Wine
As much as we love getting together to talk about the book we’ve read, we love drinking wine and eating yummy food nearly as much. Husbands and relatives might tease us that our club should really be called the Book Lovers Wine Club. To them I ask, “U jelly?”
Early on, hosts started serving food and wine that paired with the book, like samosas for a club on The Namesake, or wines from Washington state for a club on Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Now, in addition to thinking about book stuff like character development and motifs and plot threads while we read the current selection, we try to anticipate what the host will pair with the book. It’s so fun. Really.
And did I mention there is normally leftover wine when you host?
Schedule in Ink
To make a book club work, I’m an advocate for picking a date for your next meeting before you leave, and then honoring that commitment. Sure, stuff comes up, but the surest way to kill a burgeoning book club is for your cohorts to feel like there are a dozen other things you must be doing.
We end up meeting once every six weeks or so, depending on what people have scheduled and the length of the book. We really try to find a date that works for everyone. Because people come unless they are sick or someone they love is sick or they are booked solid for the next two months, you know the effort you put into hosting is going to be worth it.
In the interests of full disclosure, one of the secrets to WLBC’s longevity is that we are all related to at least one other person in the club. Both my sisters, my cousin, and my aunt are in the club, and Sarytah and Shelly1 enjoy clubbing with their moms. Wait, that sounded so wrong. You know what I mean.
Not all families like each other, but ours do. Plus, we’re more forgiving when someone goes on a book rant or advocates a little too hard for her position on a book. The best is watching the relationships develop over the years with non-familial members. I love those ladies, too.
You’ll hear more about the WLBC in future posts. In the meantime, tell me what you love most about your book club. What are your secrets for success?