Everything you need to throw a themed book club meeting

Because we all know the best part of book club is the food!
By Jillian Ortiz

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As any book club member will tell you, the best part about each monthly meeting is the food.

The next time you and your fellow readers get together, why not go all out with literary-inspired snacks and tablescapes designed to transport you straight into the story!

To help curate a perfectly themed evening, food and lifestyle expert, Alejandra Ramos, and book expert, Isaac Fitzgerald, returned to TODAY to share some books and bites that you (and your book club crew) are sure to love!

"Fleishman is in Trouble," by Taffy Brodesser-Anker

"Toby Fleishman is a recent divorcee juggling parenting, dating apps, and his work as a doctor. When his ex, Rachel, drops their children off with him only to vanish and fall completely out of touch, Toby embarks on a journey in which he must face some hard facts about his failed marriage... and learn how he might not be as blameless as he thinks he is," Fitzgerald said of his first pick.

Ramos' Menu: New York Jewish Deli Breakfast

Ramos was inspired by the protagonists and their many meals to create this menu that is breakfast-centric.

Challah French Toast

Challah French Toast

Alejandra Ramos
Bagel and Lox Breakfast Casserole

Broiled Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 2 grapefruits
  • Turbinado or brown sugar

Preparation

  1. Cut grapefruits in half and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a paring knife to gently cut around the perimeter of the fruit, separating it from the pith. Then cut in between the segments to loosen the fruit. (This will make it easier to eat once cooked.)

  2. Sprinkle the tops generously with sugar.

  3. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Table Setting

White Cream Diner Mugs

No matter what roast you put in these cups, they're bound to transport you to your favorite local spot.

Porcelain Cappuccino Cups with Saucers

Whether you're looking to brew some cappuccinos or your usual morning cup of coffee, nothing beats the elegant look of this cup-and-saucer style.

Corelle 18-Piece Dinnerware Set

Serve up your delicious meals with these timeless bowls and plates that are chip-resistant.

To craft this book-and-bite combo yourself, take a look at Ramos' Pinterest board for some major inspiration.

"The Nickel Boys," by Colson Whitehead

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"'The Nickel Boys,' written in gorgeous prose both terse and eloquent, tells the stories of two teen boys at Nickel Academy, a juvenile reformatory in the Jim Crow South," Fitzgerald explained of his second pick. "Though Elwood and Turner have very different ways of viewing and existing in the world, they become friends as they navigate life in an institution roiling with horror and evil behind its outwardly ordinary facade."

Ramos' Menu: A Retro-Inspired Southern Summer Lunch

Ramos thought about the moments of joy and relief that the boys would find in small treats, like a glass of lemonade or penny candy, and built a summer inspired menu.

Lemon Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Smoked Potato Salad

Smoked Potato Salad

Dee-Dee Pernell
Peaches & Cream Shortcakes

Table Setting

Wooden Berry Baskets

These adorable little baskets come in a set of 20 so you can serve all of your guests with their own basket or save the extra for next time!

Penny Candy Jar

You can fill this one gallon jar with all of your favorite treats and snacks and can even keep them on your kitchen counter for a cute vintage feel.

Lemon Drops

You can never go wrong with these classic tart candies that are sure to hit the spot – there was even a plot point in the novel about these specific drops.

Mary Janes

These molasses and peanut butter combination sweets are sure to give that vintage in their classic wrapper.

Caramel Creams

Sweet and chewy with a creamy caramel center, these candies will serve up some serious nostalgia.

Bit-O-Honey

Much like Mary Janes, these classic candies in their vintage wrappers are a delicious, low-fat treat.

Retro Baking Dish

This vintage-inspired dish is dishwasher and microwave safe, so you can enjoy your meal without the stress of clean up.

Retro Glass Bakeware

This matching set of two can be used for a variety of hot dishes and can store the cold ones, too.

Glass Salt and Pepper Shakers

For the extra vintage charm, these green glass shakers make a great addition to any table.

Harper + Oldham Butterflight Glasses

You can enjoy any ice cold beverage in these adorable glasses that come in a set of four!

To craft this book-and-bite combo yourself, take a look at Ramos' Pinterest board for some major inspiration.

"With the Fire on High," by Elizabeth Acevedo

"Emoni Santiago is a senior in high school with a lot of her plate, what with school, caring for her 3-year-old daughter, helping support her abuela, and ambitions of one day becoming a chef," Fitzgerald said of this novel's protagonist. "When an opportunity arrives in the form of a cooking class that includes an apprenticeship in Spain, Emoni is thrilled and excited. But can she find a way to balance her dreams with her responsibilities to the people she loves?"

Ramos' Menu: A Tropical Puerto Rican Summer Dinner Party

It is no wonder that this "food-focused" book speaks on several Puerto Rican and non-Puerto Rican dishes that boast savory flavor and down right deliciousness.

Ramos combined elements from the novel along with recipes that she grew up with to craft this mouthwatering menu with classic Puerto Rican dishes like pernil (pulled pork shoulder) and tostones (crispy fried plaintains). For extra sweetness, make sure to throw some quenepas (Spanish limes) on the table. ¡Wepa!

Tostones with Mayo-Ketchup
Avocado & Red Onion Salad
Puerto Rican Tembleque (Coconut Pudding)

Virgin Piña Coladas

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 cream of coconut
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Ice
  • Pineapple wedges and maraschino cherries, for garnish

Preparation

  1. Combine the pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and lime juice into a blender. Add 3-4 cups ice, or until the liquid and ice are level. Blend until smooth.
  2. Divide into glasses and garnish with pineapple wedges and cherries.

Passion Fruit Rum Punch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1 cup gold rum
  • 3 cups passion fruit nectar
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • Ice for serving

Preparation

Combine all ingredients and chill at least 2 hours. Serve over ice.

Prep Tools

Mini Non-Stick Cake Pans

For the Tembleque (Puerto Rican coconut pudding) Ramos recommends using nonstick metal molds to reach a smooth texture.

To craft this book-and-bite combo yourself, take a look at Ramos' Pinterest board for some major inspiration.

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