Book Club Wrap Up: Book Clubs as Cheap Entertainment

Sheri, our bartender 

 

Sheri, our bartender

With our economy in the gutter, I’m looking for ways to have fun on a budget. Spring break is coming up and we have no plans to go anywhere, so we’ll be riding bikes, having picnics, going to the library, using coupons for free games of bowling, going to the beach (free for us) and anything else that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I’m constantly dreaming up bargain ways we can enjoy ourselves.  Cheap is good, free is better.  

And so it is with the book club.  For the price of a bottle of wine or, in the case of last week, a pan of chicken enchiladas, I get two to three hours of lively, inspiring conversation in a room full of adults.  We laugh, catch up with each other, eat, and talk- a lot- about that month’s book, but also about whatever else is going on, all in a relaxed, cozy, kid-free atmosphere.  Friendships with these other women have a chance to grow over time into something unlike other relationships in our lives, because we have this common bond.  The food is always delicious, and sometimes, there are margaritas.  That’s a lot of bang for my buck. 

Last Sunday my book club descended on my house, a dozen women coming up my driveway in a wave of laughter, bearing food and drink and books.  Reading is solitary but book clubs are social, and I look forward to seeing these people all month.  We sat around my very long dining table enjoying our dinner and each other.  Sheri mixed up the margs and they were unbelievable (the key is fresh everything- including limes from her backyard).  We welcomed a new member (she was the only one who didn’t partake in the margaritas, so I hope we didn’t scare her off!), finished dinner, then moved into the living room to discuss Sara’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  The book was universally enjoyed but, surprisingly, didn’t give us that much to chew on, which worked out well because this was a ‘voting’ meeting.  We needed to decide what to read this summer.  And that takes a while.

We voted on 2 new book selections from a list of 9 nominees.  Here’s the list: 

The Art of Racing in the Rain 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society 

Out Stealing Horses 

South Sea Tales 

Beneath the Marble Sky 

The Book of Bright Ideas 

Still Alice 

The Book Thief 

Life of Pi

After much discussion, we voted in Still Alice by Lisa Genova for July, a novel about a woman struck by early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel for August, a fable about the son of a zookeeper who finds himself in a lifeboat with several wild animals. 

Then some people had to leave, but others stayed for the ‘book club after the book club’ which was more informal (no discussion questions here!).  We had another drink and compared this months selection to last months, and found out which one people liked better, and why, and talked about what makes a book discussable, etc.  But then it was time to retrieve the kids from the neighbor’s house.  Sadly, our book club bubble was about to burst. 

My neighbor later said she enjoyed hearing our laughter (I guess we were a little loud!) and was surprised when she found out it was “just a book club meeting” (as opposed to some other kind of party) which proves my point.. book clubs are a great form of cheap entertainment!  

22 Responses

  1. A wonderful way to spend an evening. 🙂 You make me wish I could have been there!

    My family never had very much in the way of extra cash when I was growing up, but my mother made sure our summers were full of extracurricular activities, much like the ones you’ve got planned for your kids. I have such fond memories of those times. I never felt deprived in any way–often times I was going on more adventures than my more well-to-do friends.

  2. That looks like so much fun. Sheri is as cute as I thought she would be. I want her margarita recipe!

  3. Some of our best family memories came from cheap activities. We ask family to buy us memberships to the zoo and museum for Christmas each year. That way, we have a year of free entertainment. Sometimes we pack a lunch and have a picnic, other times we eat there but it’s nice to have a place to go that doesn’t cost us money to get in!

    Book clubs can be a lot of fun. Ours meets at the library and it’s a bit stale there, but when we have or special meetings, at restaurants or at someone’s house, the wine flows freely and it’s just one big party.

    Looks like you had a great meeting. Can’t wait to hear what you think of Pi. I never got through that one but many from my book group enjoyed it.

  4. Sounds like such fun! Wish I could get a book club started in my neck of the woods.

    Thanks for the picture of Sheri — she is just too cute and appears to be having way too much fun🙂

  5. I’m saving right now for our summer vacation. The kids are on Spring Break right now and we aren’t doing much either. We need to save money for the “big” vacation!

  6. What a fun night! I wanna join your book club! LOL
    I have been toying with the idea of starting one when I move back home. Thanks to Facebook I have reconnected with friends from a ton of chapters in my life and a few of the ladies would be fun to be in a book club with. We’ll see.

  7. Don’t ya’ love my double chin? I’m looking SMOKIN HOT in this pic! Hee Hee.

    Thanks for hosting. It was a fun day…

    Hugs.

  8. Life of Pi and Still Alice are the books that I would have voted for – great choices! I just finished Still Alice last night and it definitely will give you a lot to talk about at book club.

    I agree that book clubs are wonderful! It’s so nice to socialize with people who get why I read so much.

  9. waah! you make me want to find a cool book club around here…but there aren’t any! i’m moving to california right now. can i join your club? k, thanks!🙂

  10. Thanks for the great comments!

    Wendy, I know what you mean. My summers were that way too growing up (my family had 5 kids and not a lot of money) and I have great memories. We never felt deprived either.

    Kathy, Sheri is a doll and lots of fun! I will get that recipe..

    Ti, that’s a great idea about memberships as gifts! Too bad you couldn’t get through Life of Pi. Sheri suggested that one to our group and was super enthusiastic about it (she has read and reviewed it) but the premise sounds a little bizarro to me!

    Molly- You should totally start your own!! That’s what I did! Sheri is too cute but was actually having kind of a bad day until she got to my house. Not sure she was having fun quite yet as that picture was taken, but she felt better shortly after!

    Janel- where ya going???

    Karen- you should!! The only criteria is to invite people that actually are readers- don’t just invite them because they are your friends. If they are only there to socialize then it’s kind of disruptive to the rest of the people who actually want to talk about the book!

    Sher- hush!! You look great. I love your smile!

    Alyce- have you read the review of Still Alice on Lesley’s Book Nook? It was so good the author even commented! Check it out: http://lesleysbooknook.blogspot.com/2009/03/still-alice.html
    I look forward to reading your thoughts on it too!

    Nat- Same here.. I had to start my own. It wasn’t that hard! you should try it!
    But of course you are welcome at mine..

  11. Every time you talk about your book club I want to start my own!! The problem is that I don’t know a lot of people in real life who are readers. I will have to think about this one.🙂

    Sheri – you look adorable!! I wish I lived in California so I could drop by and try one of your margaritas!🙂

  12. It’s fresh ORANGES from my tree in the backyard. The limes are courtesy of Trader Joe’s. It’s the ORANGE baby that is the secret ingredient!

  13. Heather- you don’t have to know that many people because the people you DO know will know other people. Do you have two or three people you could ask, who could ask two or three other people?

    Sheri, Oranges, limes- there was produce all over my counter and I knew something came from your backyard! I thought it was the limes, ooops!

  14. Maybe the trick to starting a fun book club is to sell the enchiladas and the margaritas and the price to enter is to read a book!? Maybe I’m pushing the book part too hard? Always fun to hear about your book club…

  15. I meant sell the IDEA of enchiladas and margaritas… fix it? sigh. I need to slow down.

  16. I’ll be looking forward to your review of Still Alice. It was on my book club’s nomination list but it didn’t end up getting chosen. I do really want to read it though, so I’ll be interested to see how your group liked it.

    My club did our voting last week as well. We chose the following books:
    The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    Queen of the Road
    Little Bee

    AND we get to see the author of the first book at a local book festival and the author of the second book is calling in to our meeting – yeah!

  17. What a cool day you had!! I wish that I had a reading group that met and discussed books, ate food, and just had fun!! Loved your list that you all chose from…your picks are great reads!!

  18. Oh, how I wish I could be a part of your book club. It sounds wonderful. Sheri looks terrific and it sounds like you all had a lot of fun which is what matters.

  19. Yep, when the going gets tough, drink like a fish and try to sound intellekshul about books and stuff. What could be better than that?

    When I get old, I’m going to do many drugs and talk intellekshully to myself. That’ll suit me just fine.

    Maybe I shold join a book club instead. If you were here, Lisa, I’d try to finagle my way into your club for sure!

  20. Sounds like a fun evening, Lisa! And, you picked a couple of great books. I loved Still Alice and Life of Pi and think they’ll provide great material for your discussions.

    My group read Revolutionary Road last month and only one of our members loved it. We still had a great time chatting about the book, though. Well over an hour of book talk.

    This month we’re reading teen fiction: The Hunger Games. I’ve heard very good things about this novel, so I’m excited.

    Might have to throw some margaritas into the mix. Summer’s just around the corner!🙂

  21. Sounds like a great time! Now why can’t you live closer to me lol?

  22. Your book club sounds like fun! I’m going to keep Still Alice in mind for our next voting – in November. The only negative would be that one member’s mother-in-law does/did have early onset alzheimer’s so not sure if that would be too close to home.

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