All you need is a good read, a group of friends and a special treat to make your next gathering one for the books.

Written and styled by Rhoda Brimberry and Anna Crelia, founders of Loot Vintage Rentals, Photos by Natalie Paramore

We encourage our kids to pick up books in exchange for gadgets. We do this because we know how engaging and transforming reading a book can be, but sometimes we’re unable to find time or a quiet space to escape.

Starting a book club is a wonderful way to dive into a good read while enjoying a gathering with friends. In January, we are finally able to slow down, enjoy the cooler weather and work on our ideas for a great new year. For us, reading more and getting together with friends is at the top of our to-do lists. So, let’s get the club together and show those kids how it’s done.

Picking a Book

Choosing a book is one of the most fun parts of the book club. Rotating the host relieves the burden of always setting up at your house. For most busy women, allowing a month between meetings provides a good time frame in which to finish the book.

Simplified: Choose a book from one of the many best-seller lists: Goodreads, The New York Times or even BookPeople. There are so many to choose from.

Next level: Base the club on a theme and preselect the books for the next six months to a year. Classics, biographies, picks from Oprah’s Book Club, Texas authors or rereading high-school book assignments are good places to start gathering inspiration. And if you’re trying to entice the kids with the idea of a fun book club, why not include them in a young-adult literature club? There are some great YA novels to choose from that all ages are sure to enjoy.

Drinks and Snacks

Keeping it simple is the name of the game. Choosing finger foods to nosh on while sitting on cozy couches and cushions really enhances the comfy vibe and relaxes guests for a more honest and open discussion.

Simplified: Pick up a cheese plate, cookies, veggies and dip from the store and serve them with wine, a warm cocktail or a mug of hot cocoa by the fire.

Next level: Pairing some snacks or drinks to go along with the theme of the book adds a special and interactive twist. If you’re reading The Great Gatsby, why not try your hand at making a French 75? Or make a hot wassail if you’re reading Little Women.

Book Club Members and Guests

Deciding whom to invite to the club can be daunting because you don’t want to leave anyone out. Don’t fret, though. Adding more guests as the club matures is always possible and, with busy schedules, some might not always be able to join. You can make a gathering work, whether you’re inviting your business colleagues to get together after hours or reaching out to your neighbors. Involving a wide assortment of ladies from different beliefs and backgrounds is a great way to make the discussion lively and introduce new ideas.

Simplified: Keep the club small, and invite just a handful of members to start to create a strong base.

Next level: Invite a special guest that is either an expert on the literature being read or has a background on the subject being discussed. Think about literature professors or teachers, or neighbors from a different generation who were alive during the time the book is set. You might be surprised that a number of authors who live in Austin would love to come discuss books in your club or even provide insight on their works that you might be reading at the time.

For us, we took a different direction and invited Catelyn Silapachai from The Distillery to share her fascination with the novel Jane Eyre and the jewelry collection she built based on the subject and characters of the book. Not only was the jewelry stunning—and available to purchase—but her take on Charlotte Brontë’s novel really took the discussion in a new direction and had us all craving more vintage literature.

Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate With Orange Whipped Cream

Serves eight

Hot chocolate ingredients

8 cups milk

2 discs Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate

2.5 cups spiced rum, like Sailor Jerry

Orange whipped cream ingredients

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Zest of one orange, plus extra for garnish


  1. To make the hot chocolate, heat the milk on the stovetop over medium heat.
  2. Cut each chocolate disk into pieces and add them to the milk, stirring until the chocolate dissolves.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from it heat and add the rum.
  4. Using a mixer, in a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks start to form.
  5. Add the powdered sugar and beat until firm, then stir in the orange zest.
  6. To serve, dollop each cup of spiced Mexican hot chocolate with the whipped cream and sprinkle with orange zest.

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