Saturday, 27 April 2013

Books and Beetroot




white sheets
A lawyer, a doctor and a vicar walk into a room. In their pyjamas. It sounds like the start of a joke doesn't it? In fact it was the start of a slightly unusual book club which I'm lucky enough to be part of.
Even as I think about what I'm going to write I'm slightly embarrassed by just how "yummy-mummy/yoghurt-weaver/organic mother who has forgotten her yamyam background" the idea of a book club sounds.
themed meal
And I am sure there are book clubs out there where earnest bored housewives sit around and discuss the deep and meaningful prose from their latest read but let me assure you - our book club is not like that.
It's sort of a supper club where we all have (or often actually have not) read the same book recently.
Often some of us have read the book, some of us have read some of it and a couple admit they didn't even get round to buying or borrowing it. But we never forget to sort out the food.
We decided to make it a discussion over dinner partly because some of our club work long hours and couldn't fit in food and  book club. And partly because it's another excuse to eat nice food in good company.
from the book
It's a great way to schedule regular social meet-ups between busy friends. Ours is a small group (mainly because of the supper aspect) made up of friends from school and church, with some overlaps.
The first book we read was "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which was apt because they were, like us, a bi of an odd mix.
 The blurb on the back of the book says "it is about love and friendship" which sums up our group I think.
Anyway the first host of the group decided to theme her supper loosely on the book - I forget the details but on the whole we have followed her lead.
 I hosted after we read "For Tibet with Love" by Isabel Losada and had lots of fun tracking down Tibetan recipes to serve (we had butter chicken and flatbread and rice but I had to use ghee instead of the recommended yak butter sadly!)
Our most recent book was "The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year" by Sue Townsend and as a tribute we all turned up to the host's house wearing pyjamas.
The host in turn had made an extraordinary effort to lay out white sheets for us to walk on (read the book to get the reference!) and had recreated a meal described in the book right down the the way the salad was arranged in concentric circles and how the peppers, potato and carrots were arranged on the plates. Top Marks Claire!
As always we had a lovely relaxed evening talking about tattoos, relationships, food, holidays and families - Oh and sometimes we mentioned the book!
carefully arranged as
described in the book.
If you fancy starting up a relaxed book/supper club like ours my top tips would be;
 Keep it small and expand if you feel able - a smaller group gives everyone chance to join in and you can all fit round a table for dinner.
Be flexible on dates - we originally planned to meet once a month but realistically its more like 6-8 weeks between meetings. If we now we are going to have a long gap like at Christmas or through the summer we will pick two books to read.
Ask someone to take charge of a rota - easily to swap or change the date nearer the time but handy to know when your next turn is likely to be and stops the same people volunteering to host all the time.
Think of some ideas for books for the next session before the meeting - discuss, but be prepared to accept the majority choice, even if you actually don't fancy it-a book that sounds dull or complicated might turn out to be your favourite of all time!
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