This Month's Book Clubs' Picks...and What Food To Pair With Them

By Carolyn Stine October 30, 2019 

Put aside the warm chardonnay and hurriedly-assembled cheese plate - here are the books you should be reading at book club this fall, and all of the goods that you should be serving alongside them. 

There is a conventional formula out there for hosting a book club:

Book + people + wine = book club

There’s nothing wrong with this formula, per se. You can add wine to pretty much any sort of friend gathering and a good time is practically guaranteed. It’s just that we have a deeply abiding feeling that book club has the potential to be not mediocre, not good, but fantastic. And that’s why we’re here to reinvent the proverbial book club wheel, so to speak. We’ve pulled together all of the best and the brightest established book clubs, and what they have on their reading list this fall. But wait… there’s more! We’re also sharing how to plan your book club event around those books, in true Bashed hostess-with-the-mostest style. So here’s the scoop on how to make your book club into the ultimate page-turner of an event, complete with eats and drinks that perfectly complement the books that your nose is buried in. 

 

Oprah’s Book Club

I mean, we couldn’t not start with the OG of book club mamas, Miss Oprah Winfrey herself. Oprah’s word is law, as far as we’re concerned, and we also love the fact that her fall book pick below was already on our must-read list. 

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This may be Coates’ third book, but it just so happens to be his very first novel, and we are pumped. The Water Dancer is a story of slavery, and one of its central presences is that of the river, which holds a particular significance to the protagonist. So we’re taking the river’s flowing water as the theme to build our book club around, and focusing on seafood for all of the eats and drinks. 

If you’re looking to serve an assortment of apps, these cucumber sesame seaweed snacks are a cinch to make, and look gorgeous set out on a platter. We love them next to a batch of shrimp canapes with curry butter. If looking to provide something a bit more hearty, Martha Stewart’s sushi cake is as Instagram-worthy as it is delicious, and more fun for a crowd then just ordering in a few sushi rolls. Cap off the evening with a cooling, h2o-based cucumber cocktail (we like subbing in sparkling water for the tonic).

 

Book of the Month club

We’ve been massive fans of Book of the Month club since its inception, as it provides us with multiple options each month and really pushes us to ready (nearly) every day. The subscription model prevents us from having analysis-paralysis when choose a new read, and we love owning the books and passing them along to loved ones when we’re finished.

Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson

What initially caught our eye about Nothing To See here was the description - it’s quoted as being “a hilarious ode to outcasts, simmering with adorable weirdness.” So of course our reaction was… sign us up! To perfectly compliment the quirkiness of the text, we wanted to pay homage via food and drinks that are quirky, funky, and may not make much sense upon first glance (but are utterly delish).

For that first crunchy bite for your guests, this tomato salsa has the unexpected addition of crisp fall apples. Pro tip: serve it with pita chips instead of tortilla chips. Everyone loves a grilled cheese in the chilly weather, and these dark chocolate and parmesan grilled cheese hits the nail on the head. Cut them up into bite-sized pieces so everyone can eat them with ease. And the grand finale doesn’t need to be a baking extravaganza - try the unusual pairing of your favorite vanilla gelato with high quality olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. To drink, this butternut old fashioned is the perfect fall twist on a classic.

 

Reese’s Book Club

In our eyes, Reese Witherspoon can truly do no wrong. Not only is she an incredibly talented actress, but she’s an advocate for the women around her, and one of the ways that she lifts us up and inspires us is via her book club. 

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

The subtitle of this nonfiction book is “a game-changing solution for when you have too much to do,” and man, we can relate to that. And so, for our book club menu, we wanted to take a route that is all about simplification with recipes that are easy to make and enjoy. 

This chickpea and mint crostini is a no-cook option (and the leftovers are fantastic). And what’s more simple than fresh baguette dipped in garlicky oil? Finish the spread off with these “cheater’s deviled eggs,” which get rid of the time-consuming steps that come with traditional deviled eggs, but are just as satisfying. Plus, these apple cider mimosas might be the simplest cocktails we’ve ever whipped up, and perfectly satisfy our sweet tooth (you don’t even need the extra sugar in the recipe!).

 

Read With Jenna

The official Today Show book club is headed up by Jenna Bush Hager, and we love that the entire Today Show community participates and gets as excited as we do when the new read is announced each month.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett has long been one of our favorite fiction authors (hello, State of Wonder!) and this generation-spanning story will have even the most reluctant of book club members captivated. We’re honoring The Dutch House with a cozy, fall-centric Dutch menu that focuses on a few dishes done right for your guests. 

This Dutch menu is all about our favorite part of Dutch cuisine: the cookies. With dessert at the highlight, we like whipping up a big batch of traditional Dutch split pea soup that guests can help themselves to throughout the night. Then the focus can shift towards two variations of classic Dutch cookies: the speculaas and the stroopwafel. Cap off the evening with a Dutch negroni and you’re golden.

 

Emma Watson’s Shared Shelf 

Emma Watson holds a unique place in our hearts because she not only is and always will be Hermione Granger, but she worked with UN Women for many years and is a total #girlboss. Her GoodReads book club focuses on female and human rights-centric books, and we can absolutely get behind her mission in all forms. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Not only is Toni Morrison one of our most beloved authors, but this may secretly be our favorite book of hers. Admittedly, this one is no light read, and we found ourselves circling back, rereading chapters, and writing out the complicated timeline and personal connections between characters. But this level of involvement was ultimately so worth it. One of the central characters in Beloved is, in fact, food, and more specifically, the opulence of food. And so, our Beloved book club menu, is centered around some of the decadent, Southern comfort foods featured in this novel. 

Biscuits feel like they play a supporting role in Beloved, and we have the best recipe right here. Don’t forget to serve them with homemade jams - we love a fall-centric caramelized pear jam or an apple pie jam. Kentucky beer cheese provides a savory counterpoint for those biscuits, too. For dessert, these soft molasses cookies are absolute heaven, especially when paired with a classic Kentucky mint julep.

 

PureWow Book Club

One of the coolest things about the PureWow Book Club is the astonishing assortment that it gives readers to choose from. There isn’t just one book of the month - you can head to their website and find a full list of monthly books, as well as specific selections by category, such as the best new fall cookbooks.

Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food From 31 Celebrated Writers by Natalie Eve Garrett

In that vein, we selected this joy-inspiring book that’s all about, you guessed it, food. It’s a collection of essays (with illustrations) by American writers all about how food connects and lifts us all up, especially in times of struggle. The best part of this book is that, for subsequent book clubs, you can have guests make and bring some of the best recipes that they read about in this book. But for the inaugural Eat Joy book club, why not kick it off by making the foods that brought you joy and comfort in your own lifetime? 

 

For us, that starts with a homemade version of that classic onion dip. Ina Garten’s grown-up mac and cheese comes next, and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The piece de resistance, however, is this raspberry slab pie, which looks like a giant Pop Tart from childhood. To drink, serve up a Dirty Shirley, which is an adult version of the beloved Shirley Temple.

Hosting a book club? What are you reading and serving? Share your book and accompanying menu below!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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