The Best Kind of Book Club (And No, You Can’t Join!)

It’s World Book Day today and as I was thinking about what I should write about, I realized that a post on my book club – the Best Book Club in the World – is long over due.  

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Six years ago I sat in the lunch room with three of my co-workers commiserating about our respective book clubs. We were all book worms and we all did enjoy reading the chosen books up for discussion, but there’s something about adding a requirement that makes reading a book more of a chore on top of all of the other chores that life requires of us. The reality of most book clubs is that half of the members read half the book or less before sitting down and pretending to have an intelligent discussion about the work.

Wouldn’t it be fun, we thought, if there was a book club that ‘required’ us to read a mindless chick-lit book and there was no expectation of deep discussion? Wouldn’t it be fun if we all got to read a fun book and then get together for a gab session? 

After a few more lunchtime conversations, we realized that there were, actually, no rules around the creation of book clubs. A book club can be anything and everything that a group desires. With that, the Wine & Cheesy Book Club was born. 

 

Only at the #winencheesybookclub do cheese puff balls take centre stage in a loaf pan… #lovemyladies

A photo posted by jennvb (@jennvb) on


The rules for our book club were simple:

1) The book choice must not be serious (hence the ‘cheesy’ designation), and it’s preferable that there be multiple copies of it on the shelves at our local library.

2) There must be wine and there must be food. Lots of food. Preferably, cheese and chocolate. 

 3) The book should be discussed for a minimum of five minutes.

Girls Night Out Chocolate Raspberry Truffle

As this picture suggests, the book is not the focus of the evening…

For the most part, we meet every 6 weeks or so for three or four hours. More often than not, we’ve all read the book. Occasionally, we talk about the book for up to an hour, but most of the time we spend the night catching up (now that only 2 of the 4 of us work together anymore) and laughing together. Some nights there’s a short quiz. Some nights there’s a dramatic presentation. Some nights we cast the entire movie that should obviously be made from the book, and some nights we have a little skype chat with the author. 

Cake Pull

“This month’s Wine & Cheesy book club meeting included peach Bellinis and a cake-pull, among other things. I am apparently destined for a life of prosperity. Book: “There’s Cake in my Future”. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my book club?” – 2011

It is, honestly, the best kind of book club you could ever hope to join – but no, you may not join our book club, because it’s hard enough to schedule a meeting with only 4 members! 

We also don’t limit ourselves to book club meetings, because when you’ve got such a fantastic group of women, how can you? There’s a 20 year age differential between our most ‘experienced’ and junior members. One of us has kids graduating from university, one of us has kids just entering the education system, and one of us is free to go on vacations without thought to any little ones. There is so much collective wisdom and faith and life in these ladies – I always feel full when I leave a get together (and not just because I ate too much cheese). I am so incredibly blessed to have organized my way into a long-lasting (and hopefully permanent!) relationship with this group! 

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Out for a paddle down the Grand River.

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Wine & Cheesy Book Club Road Trip to the Finger Lakes

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A night at the movies

If you fancy starting up your own Wine & Cheesy Book Club, here are some titles to get you started. These books cover the first five years of our book club. 

Twenty’s Girl by Sophie Kinsella - from the Queen of Chick Lit herself. Recommended. 
Three Bag’s Full by Leonie Swann - an interesting read, but not the right choice for a cheesy book club. Skip it.
Getting The Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald - not quite cheesy, but perfectly delightful. Highly Recommended.
Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark - I know I read the whole thing, but it’s completely unmemorable.
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs - The book that the hit TV show Bones is based on. Recommended.
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene - When’s the last time you read Nancy Drew? Recommended for nostalgia.
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks - I find anything by Sparks completely unreadable. I didn’t finish. Skip it.
Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern - I can’t remember a thing about this book.
The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong - a little serious for a cheesy book club. Skip it.
Bossypants by Tina Fey - Such a good and funny read. Recommended.
A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans - Not bad, but not our favourite. Meh.
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs - I really liked this one. Highly Recommended.
Promises to Keep by Jane Green - I’m pretty sure that I cried a bit during this one, but don’t remember much else.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer - Must read. Hilarious. Highly recommended.
The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby - Great book, maybe a little more thought-provoking than a cheesy book club calls for.
There’s Cake In My Future by Kim Gruenenfelder-Smith - Very cute, & if you have a baker in the group, have her make a cake with cake charms. Highly recommended.
How To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donahue - A little slow, but pretty cute. A fast read. 
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis - Really good book, not suitable for a cheesy book club. Skip it.
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir - An easy read, but long. Must love historical fiction. Recommended.
Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz - I can’t remember. Not very cheesy, though, I think. Skip it. 
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie - Good & cheesy. Recommended.
These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen - Writing style not great, but definitely chick-lit. Hesitantly recommended.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - Really interesting read, well written, not cheesy. Not recommended for cheesy book club.
various titles in “Hannah Swensen” series by Joanne Fluke - We each picked a different book in the series & compared notes – all cheesy and cute. Recommended. 
Divergent by Veronica Roth - A good and easy read if you like YA novels. Recommended. We went to the theatre to watch the movie together after reading it.
Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer - A little TOO cheesy. Not recommended.
The Key-Lock Man by Louis L’Amour - A classic Western romance / mystery – entertaining & easy to read. Recommended.

There have been a lot of fantastic titles that we’ve read in the past year and a half, but I don’t hold the master list – once I get that from our unofficial self-appointed book club secretary, I’ll update it here in this post. :) 

Disclaimer: Lest you start thinking I can’t handle ‘real’ books, I’ll have you know that I was an English Honours Major in university by CHOICE. I love and read ‘real’ literature regularly – but sometimes it’s nice to sit down with a fluff piece, you know? 

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Jenn vanOosten

I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and love my city. I'm a Netflixer, choral music geek, bookworm, inventor of recipes (I take Artistic Licence on EVERYTHING that I make), wife of one, mother of two, and owner of a neurotic Schnauzer. I respect people who respect others. I love good food that's well done, but my favourite lunch is KD & hotdogs. With ketchup. I'm addicted to Clearance Shopping. I will ALWAYS get the product that I want at the price that I want, eventually.

One comment

  1. I totally didn’t see this post back in March! Love it.

    Oh my goodness, I was the ONLY ONE that read “Admission” and it was a chore. I remember I killed myself to finish that book, only to find out that no one else had finished it! Much anger over that one. So much valuable reading time I will never get back. I think others started but didn’t finish, so I had to fill y’all in on how it ended.

    Also, is there such a thing as TOO cheesy? I think not. ;) Interesting on how we remember some of these books differently (“Deja Dead” – ugh, no. “Lady Elizabeth” – did not finish. “Let’s Pretend…” – so much sarcasm). One thing I think we can all agree on – “Agnes and the Hitman” is a must read!! :)

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