Book Clubs: A New Kind of Fun

by | Jul 2024

Woodbury Book Club

Photos: Chris Emeott

Keep the pages turning at your book clubs.

What was once considered an evening for your mom and her friends has become a gathering that everyone wants to be a part of. Whether IRL or across screens, book clubs are the new Friday night out—people from all generations have swapped out an evening of staying out late for a night discussing recent reads. It’s even taken social media by storm with hashtags, such as #BookTok and #Bookstagram on the rise.

As an avid reader—I am currently on track to read nearly 100 books in 2024!—I want nothing more than to discuss each chapter with anyone who will listen, and it’s even better when someone else can follow along and share your all-consuming thoughts and ideas. So, I thought I would share a piece of my hobby with you, Readers—so, what are you waiting for? Transform your average book club into a party with these sizzling page-turners, each paired with a bite, a sip and a tune to listen to.

Looking to create your own book club? We share some ideas for getting started.

Contemporary Romance

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

Split between two timelines: One where Lucy, a tourist on Prince Edward Island (PEI), meets the dazzling Felix, a local who shows her how to have a good time. When Lucy learns that Felix is actually her best friend, Bridget’s, younger brother, the list of reasons why the two should stay separated continuously grows. Year after year, Lucy escapes to PEI for coastal air but promises to stay away from Felix. Now, when Bridget flees a week before her wedding, it’s up to Lucy and Felix to help her through the crisis—without ending up in one themselves.

Recently released in May, This Summer Will Be Different is Carley Fortune’s third novel and is another book that captures the essence of summer. As an avid romance novel reader, Fortune’s PEI romance kept me turning page after page, wrapping up the entire novel in under 24 hours. Featuring fiery and yearslong love alongside emotionally-deep characters, you can’t go wrong with this charming read.

Eat: Oysters with fresh horseradish and lemon wedges or fish and chips
Drink: Vinho Verde of choice
Listen: Electric Touch by Taylor Swift

Magical Realism

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Where do you see yourself in five years? Dannie Kohan, a Manhattan lawyer, is asked this question at the most important interview of her life, and she has a curated answer at the ready—she does have a five-year plan, after all. To celebrate, Dannie goes out to dinner with her boyfriend at The Rainbow Room, and the two get engaged in their happily ever after. But when Dannie wakes up the next day, she is in a different apartment, next to a different man with a different ring on her finger. The TV is on, and she sees the date: December 15, 2025. Exactly five years into the future. After one hour, Dannie wakes again, back to midnight in 2020. It feels like more than a dream, but Dannie files it away. Until, four-and-a-half-years later, she meets the exact man from the vision.

Rebecca Serle’s In Five Years is an imaginative tale of intertwining relationships, including love and friendship. With excellent prose and an intriguing female lead, Serle captures the readers’ attention with ease. Once you’re sucked into Dannie’s world, expect to feel an array of emotions—you might even need a box of tissues on hand.

Eat: Greek salad with tzatziki, lamb souvlaki and fava beans, drenched in olive oil and garlic
Drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Listen: All the Way by Frank Sinatra

Contemporary Fiction

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is prepared to tell her life story—one that newsstands have been trying to pry out of her for decades—to unknown journalist Monique Grant, who asks the question, “Why now?” Monique, determined to jumpstart her career, listens to Evelyn share her story from the beginning in 1950s Los Angeles through leaving the business in the 1980s and, of course, the seven husbands that came and went throughout the years. Throughout the weeks together, it becomes clear to Monica that the two are connected in more ways than one, and Evelyn’s tale of forbidden love rises to the surface.

I have touted Taylor Jenkins Reid novels time and time again, as she is exceptionally talented at showcasing one-of-a-kind, yet relatable, fictional tales. The bestselling author leaves the reader with a beautiful love story that is equally as glamorous as it is secretive, featuring flawed characters and an immersive story that you won’t want to end.

Eat: Chopped salad
Drink: Dirty Shirley
Listen: Our Love is Different by Billie Holiday

Historical Fiction

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Carriveau, France, 1939. Vianne Mauriac is left as a single mother when her husband goes to the frontlines of World War II. When Germany invades France and Vianne’s home is requisitioned for a German captain, she and her daughter must make the impossible choice to live with him to stay alive or lose it all. In Paris, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a reckless 18-year-old, searching for purpose when she meets Gaëtan, who believes that the French can fight from within. Eventually, Isabelle joins the resistance, altering both her and Vianne’s life forever.

The Nightingale is perhaps one of my all-time favorite novels—although you can’t go wrong with any of Kristin Hannah’s work. This novel will have the reader feel an array of emotions, from heartbreak to pure love, frustration to agony. It is one of the books that I will gladly pick up off my shelf again. Other notable titles include The Great Alone, The Four Winds and her most recent release, The Women.

Eat: Charcuterie board, complete with warm bread, cheese, choice of meats and fruit
Drink: Sancerre of choice
Listen: Haunted House by Holly Humberstone


The Gaill by Lo Meyer

The Gaill by Lo Meyer

The kingdom of Calderone has thrived for the 300 years after the nuclear war of 2060, and 18-year-old Jacqueline Livingston is the heir to the throne—kept hidden by her kingdom for her protection. The night before she is revealed as the heir, Jacqueline is kidnapped during a raid by the Gaill, Calderone’s sworn enemy. Once in the Gaill lands, Jacqueline becomes a servant in its palace and quickly befriends other servants—even learning that Gaill prince Daxinius may not be as merciless as thought. While learning the dangerous truth of her people, Jacqueline begins to question who the true enemy is.

Minnesota author Lo Meyer debuted her first novel, The Gaill, in 2023, and it is a perfect choice for those dipping their toes into the realm of fantasy. Fans of popular Sarah J. Maas will enjoy this fantastical and dystopian tale. Meyer is set to release three additional novels set in The Gaill Series, including one later this year.

Eat: Chocolate chip or banana pancakes, served alongside fruit, pastries and bacon
Drink: Espresso martini
Listen: War of Hearts by Ruelle


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