In my experience, book clubs are as much about the food, wine, and camaraderie as they are about the books. Your friends may be well-read, but it’s up to the good book club host to make sure they’re also well fed. For your next meeting, match up these current or recent bestsellers with themed and plot-appropriate nibbles and libations.
Shadow Spell, by Nora Roberts
Kick off your discussion of the second book in Roberts’ Ireland-set trilogy with amuse-bouches of sliced potato rounds topped with Irish smoked salmon. Rather than corned beef and cabbage, serve a rich beef-and-Guinness stew, and at the end of the night, you can’t go wrong with a bread pudding spiked with Irish whiskey, like Jameson or Bushmills. (And then you’ll be in for what the Irish call a good long food coma.)
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
While the titular painting in Tartt’s sprawling novel doesn’t look exactly edible, your guests will enjoy Cornish game hens rubbed with a spicy jerk sauce and a side of wild rice. The alcoholic main character demands potent potables—we recommend a nice light lager to cut through the hens’ fiery glaze. And for dessert—do you really need this hint? Tarts! Wee fruit tarts, that your guests can take home with them, will make you the most popular book club host around.
The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
For this Australian-set page-turner, serve wines from Down Under (such as a sweet, juicy shiraz or a lighter riesling), alongside savory meat pies and a fluffy, fruit-topped pavlova for dessert. Or take a hint from Australia’s vibrant community of Asian immigrants and put together a dim sum buffet, because everyone loves dumplings. (Everyone. Dumplings are the best.)
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
Whether you like your buffalo wings with ranch dressing or blue cheese, they always liven up a party. Try different flavors, such as a curry-infused marinade, a citrusy glaze, or the classic pairing of whiskey and honey (because of course you’ve already read Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees). If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try your hand at Korean-style fried chicken, which has a thin, shatteringly crispy crust and is often served with pickled radishes to counter the heat.
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham
Grisham’s Mississippi-set sequel to A Time to Kill calls for luscious southern comfort food, like fried catfish with hush puppies and slaw, shrimp and grits, and a lemon icebox pie for dessert. When your guests arrive, start the evening off right with a mint julep in the traditional silver cup—by the time you get to discussing the book, you’ll sound like Ford County natives.
The Cairo Affair, by Olen Steinhauer
The characters in Steinhauer’s thriller don’t have time to savor the cuisine of the Egyptian capital, but your book club can. Start with a traditional lentil soup, followed by a main course of molokhia, a dish made with chicken, rice, and greens. A nice French white wine will pair well with the chicken, and you can finish the evening off with the butter cookies called ghorayeba.
What book and food pairing would you like to try at your next book club?