7 easy tips for starting an amazing cookbook club

Easy and essentials tips on how to start an amazing cookbook club as the new way we entertain.


I have 12 books stacked and teetering on the windowsill by my desk at the NYC office. The stack is going to fall one of these days, but each time I come back from an editor lunch or author meeting where I’m given a book, I add to it.

That pile stares at me all day, and do you know what it’s saying?

Why aren’t you reading me? I look really interesting. Just look away from the computer and crack open a page. It’ll be fuuun.

These books can put on the peer pressure worse than 14 year old girls. And they’ve made it clear to me: they’re not happy that I’m ignoring them.

Do you have a stack of books pressuring you, too? Or maybe it’s your to-be-read list that’s giving you the side-eye?

Well, I have a solution for you, and I promise, it’s going to be even more fun than sitting at the cool kids’s table in the cafeteria

It’s…a book club!

Yes, not groundbreaking, but here’s the thing: it’s better to have your real friends peer pressuring you to read than a hunk of dead tree. And here’s the other thing: everything you thought you knew about book clubs isn’t true.

You don’t have to meet every month. You don’t have to fake that you read the book because life got away from you. You don’t even have to read beforehand–yes, silent book clubs are a thing.

how to get a cookbook deal

All you have to do is get some of your favorite people together, eat something great, pour some wine, and catch up about what you’re reading, what you’re not reading, what podcasts you’re addicted to, what book-to-screen shows or movies you love, and really, anything that’s going on in your life. Books are our portal into life, and here, they can be our excuse for hanging with the people who make us happy.

So when The Kitchn asked me to share my easy tips on how to start a cookbook club, I was all over it. Because a book club that also helps you finally cook through your cookbooks and eat something really spectacular is a beautiful thing. And almost all of the questions you need to ask before starting a cookbook club apply to starting any kind of book club.

What’s the right amount of people? How often should you meet? How do you choose the book? 

It’s not easy to wrap your mind around the logistics and to start a book club or cookbook club the right way, but let me walk you through the 7 questions you need to answer before starting a book club:

7 Easy Tips on How to Start Your Own Cookbook Club

how to start a cookbook club easy

Do you know what’s better than eating out with your friends? Cooking with your friends. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into a rut of solo weeknight cooking and prepped-ahead dinner parties on weekends. The solution? A cookbook club.

A cookbook club will get you back to the great national pastime of community cooking, and it will help you finally cook from all those cookbooks you’ve been hoarding. It’s also ridiculously fun, and you’ll learn endless tricks from watching how your friends make a recipe.

Your cookbook club can be a potluck, where everybody cooks ahead and then shares the spoils; it can be a day of cooking, where you shop in advance but show up ready to cook and eat as a group; or it can be a prep day, where you cook in bulk together and then send each other home with extra servings for stocking the freezer.

Whatever you choose, you’ll need to decide these seven things before you can get cooking:

1. Pick your cookbook club members.

Yes, you should pick your favorite friends, but also consider how much they like to cook and what they like to cook.

Mentally scroll through your favorite people and ask the following questions: Who is most adventurous? Who’s most knowledgeable? Who loves the same restaurants that I do? Who has dietary restrictions I can live with? Don’t rush this — you can’t have a great cookbook club without people who love food in the same way you do.

Next, decide how many friends to invite. Cooking club experts Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer, authors of From Freezer to Table, recommend capping your club at six people. More than that becomes a literal case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

 

Click here to keep reading this piece on The Kitchn!

 

 

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What I’m Reading This Week

I Started a Dinner Club and It Changed My Life (Lindsay Ostrom of Pinch of Yum): Not sure you want to start a book club or a cookbook club? How about just a dinner club! This piece was so touching and inspired me and my friends to start our own regular dinner club, books optional.

How Much Money You Can Expect to Make From Your First Book Contract (Chad R. Allen): Chad’s the Editorial Director at Baker Books, and here he breaks down exactly how publishers calculate advances and how much money an author can earn from a book. And if you want to read more about advances, here’s my literary agent take on how advances for first-time authors and 6 figure advances work.

12 Books to Fix Your Personal Finances (Emma Nichols for Book Riot): I secretly, oddly love reading personal finance books, and I double down on the recommendation of Your Money or Your Life and up the ante with Money: Mastering the Game.

How to Get More Readers and Sell More Books (Kirsten Oliphant of CreateIf Writing): “Start with the basic platform that succeeds: you need an author website, an email list, and Facebook. Data tells you that these three things WORK. You can branch out to Instagram and Tumblr or wherever you love to hang out, but start with the places that bring you ROI- a return on your investment.”

You Need Fortune Bookies in Your Life (Me editorializing on an idea by the wonderful Heidi Fiedler): Have you seen Heidi’s Fortune Bookies?! They are cute little fabric fortune cookies that you tuck into books and which have a secret message hidden inside. How delighted would you be if you came across one at the bookstore? Heidi also has great resources on her site to teach you how to make your own, but you can also request a free box from her if you want to spread the magic.

fortune bookies heidi fiedler


What We’re Eating This Week

Well, my dinner club doesn’t meet until late October, I’m traveling to NYC and Philly this week, and dinner is dying in a fiery burst of sad.

Monday: But I am home one day this week! So it’s Italian chopped salad based on the one from Otto, because I honestly cannot stop. They will have to pry the salami from my cold, dead hands.

Tuesday: Out to eat with my Yaya, aka Who Can Complain Most About How Cold the AC is at Panera: All-Star Edition. I am so good at this game.

Wednesday: Well, for LUNCH, I’m going to be totally shameless and eat a giant bowl of pasta at the Barilla restaurant near our offices. For dinner: tears.

Thursday: Lunch will be someplace delicious for an editor meeting; dinner will be brimstone and fire.

Friday: Off to Philly, where my sister is 1,000% responsible for feeding us excellently and better BETTER not disappoint. Ahem. #bossylittlesister

Cheers!

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10 quotes that remind us how much we love books (+ free book art print)

The best famous writers’s inspirational quotes about life, writing, books, and reading.

I walked into my favorite bookstore last week, and I was immediately hit by a wave of relief. I stood at the front of the store, looking at a table covered in books, feeling a weight lifting from me.

There was something so luxurious and indulgent about having 15 whole minutes to take in the store, to wander from shelf to shelf and see all the beauty and knowledge bound up and displayed.  I had only a few minutes to pick up a gift before the parade of to-dos set in for the day, but as soon as I got that first breath of bookstore air, I stopped checking my phone and my clock.

i have always thought of paradise as a library quote art print

Isn’t there just something magical about walking in a bookstore? There’s something holy and sacred about it to me, and sometimes it catches my breath how good it feels. It feels like the whole world laid out before me, thousands of interesting voices and people and places and wisdom and adventures to pluck into an afternoon.

It reminds me why I believe in books, and it reminds me why it’s important that writers keep writing and keep sharing their work.

I also know how easy it is to lose sight of that.

Trust me: when you’re working on the nitty gritty of making a physical book, it’s easy to lose touch of that end payoff, that holding-the-book-and-feeling-the-magic moment that we all work so hard for.

But over many years of working on books and flowing through cycles of inspiration and overwhelm, I’ve found that there are other ways to keep the magic alive, even when you can’t get yourself some time to soak up a bookstore.

And by far, one of my favorite ways to get book inspiration is by scrolling through Pinterest (follow me there!) and finding inspiring quotes from writers and cute illustrations about the book lover’s life. (For instance, how cute is this book art?!)

The quotes, especially, give me such a jolt of remembering why I do what I do. And since I love saving my favorite inspirational quotes and turning them into book art, I created this printable art print with the Jorge Luis Borges quote, “I have always imagined paradise to be a kind of library.” You can download it for free here!

I have always imagined paradise as a library jorge luis borges quote

Download this free book art print here!

 

And in case you also need a little more motivation and inspiration today, here are my 10 best inspirational quotes about writing, as well as my favorite quotes about books and reading. I hope they remind you how good being a book lover can be!

10 Quotes That Remind Us How Much We Love Books

best quotes by writers about books

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5 YA books to read if you love John Green

I don’t do the whole post-book hangover thing well.

I finished this book last year and stared off into space for a good 30 minutes before I could process that it was over. I kept thinking about it day after day, looking up from my computer screen to remember a funny line and laughing like a lunatic to myself. I started asking friends and family if they’d ever heard of Guernsey, and wouldn’t it be nice to take a family vacation there?

I also seriously considered taking up letter-writing so that my future grandkids would have something physical to hold of my daily life. (“Dear Future Grandkids, Today I got up and went to work. I had a coffee while I answered emails.” Can’t you just hear the snoozing!?)

But I was just so gut-wrenched that I couldn’t live in the world of that book anymore.

Heartbreak over lost book worlds is real, and I know I’m not the only one who roams the house, kicking the pillows, glaring at the plants, and feeling annoyed that I’m not, in fact, living a magical character’s life in a magical place.

I know a lot of people felt this way after they read John Green’s The Fault in Your Stars–has there ever been such a heartbreaking and collective book hangover? And the bad news is, we still have to wait two more months for Turtles All the Way Down, John Green’s first book after The Fault in Your Stars phenomenon.

Two. Whole. Months.

Is eternity stretching before you yet?

Luckily, I came up with a handy coping mechanism for you: Step 1: lock self in house. Step 2: burrow into bed. Step 3: take a nap for the next 1,440 hours.

OR.

Just in case you’re more of a read-to-pass-the-time type (and something tells me you are), I have a back-up plan. It goes like this:

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to fill the next two months with books that would bring us back to the glory days of first reading The Fault in Our Stars? Books that would remind us of the thrill and heartbreak we felt when we first met Augustus and Hazel? Books that would reignite our John Green fandom and fill The Fault in Our Stars sized hole in our hearts?

If only there were FIVE such books. Because after all, two months is a long time, and our next John Green inspired YA reads are going to whiz right by.

IF ONLY.

You know I’ve got your back, right? Well, more specifically, our wonderful Stonesong intern, Lydia DuBois, has our backs! Here’s Lydia with the YA book recommendations you need to tide you over until Turtles All the Way Down releases:

5 YA books to read if you love John Green

books to read if you love John Green

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The results are in!

I LOVED hearing from you last week through the reader survey. You all are so fascinating.

I was trying hard not to peek at the survey responses before they were all in, and then I finally sat down with them on Tuesday morning, riding the Amtrak train from DC to NYC. Which meant I was giggling and nodding like a lunatic on the train, and also having way more fun than is allowed on Amtrak.

what kind of reader are you survey

Your responses were witty and insightful and thoughtful. Thank you immensely for taking that time out of your day—I know how busy you are, and I don’t ever want to take your time lightly.

Speaking of which, Allison S. is the winner of the surprise $20 Amazon card that was tucked at the back of the survey! I didn’t want to bribe you all, but I did want to give you a thank you gift for giving me your time. So, Allison, I hope you buy yourself something perfect to read with the gift card! I’ll be contacting you via email to get it to you.

So, are you curious about who your fellow readers and writers are?

Here’s who you’ll find in our little cooks & books community:

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