Book Review: The Book Club Cookbook

by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Published by Penguin, March 2012

Last week I received two unsolicited cookbooks. They both gave me hours and hours of happy reading. Today I’d like to tell you about the first one and next week I’ll tell you about the second.

The Book Club Cookbook is a revised and updated version of the author’s original 2004 edition. The authors conducted a wide ranging survey. (I participated – probably why I got the book.) They collected information about favorite books read by book clubs along with food served at the meetings.

The result is a 474 page tome that’s a listing of the best pairings of great literature and great food. This is also a great resource to help book clubs pick their book list. And yes, it has some fantastic recipes in it. Many of them are from authors and/or their families.

There is so much info in this book that I was amazed. It’s chock full of useful stuff. To show you what I mean, let me share a few books I like and the food suggestions.

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. When talking about each book, I found several paragraphs about the story. Then the recipe(s) begins. For this book there is a pairing of Teriyaki Beef Skewers and Teriyaki Sauce. In the story, when Sayuri first met the Minister, he is eating marinated beef on skewers. So, we learn how to make the beef and the sauce. At the end there is a section called “Novel Thoughts.” Here various book clubs share their experience with this book.
  • In The Secret Life o Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) I was hoping for something with honey. I got more than I hoped for. If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember the beekeeping sisters served Honey Cake to the Daughters of Mary. In The Cook Book Club the Honey Cake recipe is one that the author’s husband created just for her book’s release. There were several other clever ideas from other bookclubs, such as drinking coke with a peanut in it. Do you remember that in the book?
  • Half-Broke Horses is a novel I’m reading for one of my book clubs next month. So, of course, I enjoyed The Book Club Cookbook’s discussion of the story. The protagonist’s cooking is very basic, so the recipe for Cowboy Hash was just right. It was created by a book club member in Pennsylvania. Another bookclub created the Cornbread Fritters. There were lots of very good suggestions from other book clubs.

And that’s how the whole book goes. There are 100 books covered. Imagine! In the back there are two very good indexes. One index is for the food and the other is arranged by authors and titles and then by genre. A very helpful resource, but it also makes for great reading. Thanks Judy Gelman and Vicki Krupp.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.

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19 Responses to Book Review: The Book Club Cookbook

  1. Kay says:

    I got a copy of this one too, but have only flipped through it. I need to take a longer look. I’m taking it to my book club meeting on Wednesday evening as that group is featured in the notes of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I think they will get a kick out seeing the group’s name in print. LOL

    As to your Coke with a peanut mention, that’s a Southern thing I guess or it used to be. I had friends who did that growing up. I never liked it myself. And when I was a kid, people used to heat up Dr. Pepper and serve it hot with a slice of lemon. Why? Who knows?

  2. Mary says:

    Oooh, sounds like one I’d like!

  3. I’ve been reading so much about this book – it sounds great!

  4. Staci says:

    This sounds amazing! I love it when a cook book pulls in the essence of a novel and makes it come alive through food!

  5. I’m so glad you reviewed this one because it does sound like a great resource!

  6. Isn’t this book wonderful? I’m hoping to talk my book club into reading one of the featured books.

  7. This sounds like so much fun! I’ve read about it before, but hadn’t realized that it covers 100 books, wow!

  8. Beth F says:

    I have this on my stack to review — I keep getting lost just reading it. It’s such a great resource.

  9. I saw this book in another blog post, and it looks like so much fun. I think it would have a place on my shelf next to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust.

  10. Annie says:

    What a great idea ! I’d like to find the same book in French !

  11. Marg says:

    Food and books = heaven to me!

    This book does sound like a lot of fun.

  12. JoAnn says:

    I received this one, too. Had a great time reviewing their first edition and look forward to spending some time with the new one.

  13. candice says:

    What a fun concept for a book! food & books are a good combo.

  14. Peggy Ann says:

    I have come across this book before and it does look very interesting. I will have to put it on my wishlist.

  15. This is such a fun cookbook/resource! Our neighborhood book group doesn’t pair our book and food selections, but it’s really fun for an individual reader to revisit favorite books through the Book Club Cookbook.

  16. Heather says:

    What an interesting book. I really must pay more attention to foods when i am reading and make notes of the dishes. Thanks for sharing this. \looking forward to next weeks review.

  17. kaye says:

    what a fun book :)

  18. stacybuckeye says:

    I’m thinking of getting a book club together so I’ll definitely have to check this one out. I do remember the peanut in Coke, but I’ve not tried it – yet!

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