It was that time of the month again: bookclub. And after making my efforts as the hostess with the mostest (I broke out allllll the stock: artichoke dip.), I thought I would offer some advice to the blogging world of bookclub seekers on how to start a bookclub.

The morning after bookclub, after all our friends are inundated with “I LOVE BOOKCLUB” status updates, we are frequently asked “how does it get started?” and it’s easy, really. Go book shopping with a motivated friend that possesses the capacity to follow through and she does it for you. But if JE isn’t your BFF, then simply find one or 2 bookwormy friends, have them each invite a friend or two (I believe that 6-7 is the perfect number for the group). Pick a night to get together. Then lay out the next 6 gatherings and decide who is hosting when. Soon enough you’ll be so successful that you’ll desire to have a “bookclub rush” where you could try out new members before committing to letting them joining your group. Perhaps some hazing to see if they can adhere to Section A, Article 3. You have to be choosy as Bookclub breakups are brutal – nearly as bad as switching hair stylists.

So, a few pointers for making the rest of bookclub come together. In my typical fashion, this shall be done in list form.

Criteria for bookclub invitees:
1. Loves to read. Diligence at finishing a book, even a bad one, earns 2 extra points.
2. Loves cream cheese. There’s a 99.9% chance it’ll show up in a dish at every gathering, so she better love it. And she can’t use the fat free imitation crap. (The 1/3 less fat is acceptable if using more than one block in a dish and the other is the full-fat version).
3. Exhibits dedication and prioritizes. There is no skipping bookclub. Ever. JE Nearly lost her accreditation by missing. Thankfully we lost that warning on the cocktail napkin.

Criteria for book selection:
1. No pre-reading. You have to go in cold so that way if it’s a bad book, there’s grace for the picker. Everyone’s bound to have a bad one. Well, except JE – she always picks well. It saved her @ss when the cocktail napkin began circling around.
2. Avoid hardback-only books. Some people have slight obsessions with book purchasing and it really hits the wallet hard.
3. Avoid repeating authors. It just gives good variety.
4. Avoid anything with the word “physics” in the title.

Criteria for gathering together:
1. Always talk about the book. Even if it’s bad and even if no one finished. This is a cornerstone rule of bookclub. If your husbands ever found out, they’d shut it down and make you take the kids with you. But hold fast to the book discussion so that an honest rebuttal is so that you can “fully engage in the conversation about the book!”
2. Serving food that coordinates with the plot or setting of the book scores an extra 2 points, such as KL’s chinese-inspired dishes for Snowflower and the Secret Fan, JE’s comfort food for Plain Truth, KLM’s honey-infused meal for The Secret Life of Bees and my own carnival theme for Water for Elephants.
3. Chopping up plastic to go in the parfaits of the theme food deducts 2 points and you’ll never live it down.
4. If you pick a bad book, you’d better make good food. Period.
5. Ordering pizza for your turn to host is acceptable only on a limited basis and in extenuating circumstances – such as just having your appendix out, or being pregnant.

I hope you are well on the way to starting your own group… I know how much it has enriched my Thursday nights! What a wonderful bunch of women I’ve found!

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