January is a good month for a good book. And if your resolution is to read more, consider joining one of the growing number of book groups in the UK and beyond.
Turn to page 86 of January's The Simple Things for Frances Ambler's feature on the reads, the snacks and the chemistry that make a literary get-together work. Or read on for our top tips to make your literary appreciation society a success.
How to run a book club
1 Think about numbers: between six and ten people is good – small enough for everyone to be heard, not too pathetic if a couple of people can’t make it.
2 Pick a regular frequency: every 4 to 6 weeks allows enough time for books to be found and read.
3 Think about book length: this might not be the time to try out War and Peace: there’s a rule of book club that means the greater the page count, the lesser the number of attendees.
4 A few ground-rules may be helpful: are you going to allow people to speak in a free-for-all or take it in turns to comment? How are you going to decide what to read next?
5 Meeting snacks are heartily encouraged, see our suggestions on page 86, but be wary of competitive catering. One book group we know imposes a strict soup and sandwich-only rule.
6 The Reading Agency’s Reading Groups for Everyone offers even more tips on running a book group.
Recipe: Blackberry sage spritzer
This requires a little preparation – making a simple sage syrup – but this takes barely 10 minutes and can be done in advance.
20 sage leaves
225g caster sugar
Gin to taste
Handful of blackberries, washed
1 bottle soda water
Fresh sage and blackberries, to garnish
1 Put the sage leaves and sugar in a small pan with 240ml of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to a low simmer and keep on the heat until aromatic and slightly thickened, about 10 mins.
2 Cool the liquid and then pass it through a fine mesh sieve and discard the sage leaves. (The syrup can be decanted into a sealable container and kept in a fridge for up to a week.)
3 Reserve a few of the blackberries for garnish and place the rest in a bowl or jug and add a glug or two of the syrup to sweeten. Mix the berries with the syrup and then pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down the berries with the back of the fork to extract all the juice. Discard the pulp and any
pips left in the sieve.
4 To assemble the drink, place some ice cubes in a glass along with a measure of gin and a glug of the blackberry/sage juice. Top up the glass with soda water, garnish with blackberries and sage leaves and serve. (Omit the gin for an equally delicious non-alcoholic version.)
Taken from www.buttercupdaysuk.blogspot.co.uk
Fancy more snack ideas?
Take a look at our Pinterest board.