Even though Christina and Natalie live in different countries (Christina in the US and Natalie in the UK), they became friends through their respective blogs and love of food. Together they have formed Edible Books, an online book club that encourages members to choose books that have a food theme running through them. Here they tell us why a food themed book club is so important to them.
What prompted Edible Books?
Natalie: I mentioned to Christina one evening during some idle Twitter chatter that I wanted to be part of a book club but, because I have a small son, couldn’t commit to regular evening meetings. She casually said, how about a Twitter one? That was it, a week later we launched Edible Books.
Christina: I am a member of a wonderful book club that has been together for over a decade. So people often ask me questions about my book club, or say they’d like to be in a book club too. I love those conversations! I’d been vaguely mulling over doing something book club related online, but didn’t really have any concrete ideas until that chat with Natalie sparked the idea of a twitter-based book club, and we just ran with it.
Why a food theme?
C: I knew right away that I wanted to focus on food-themed books. I always have a long list of food-related memoirs, novels, cookbooks, etc that I want to read. And I know a lot of other food bloggers are reading the same books because they write great reviews! I love all sorts of books, but the internet is so big–I figured that in order to create a vibrant online community, we should keep our focus narrow, so that all of the participants in the discussions will have a shared interest.
N: At first I was a bit sceptical, if you remember Christina, as I thought it would narrow our reading choice but when I actually thought about the books that I normally read I realised that so many had a strong essence of food running through them. Food is a really emotive subject and we feel sure it will prompt some interesting discussions.
Why is food so important to you?
N: It’s not just about food, it is about good food. I was brought up on a diet of fresh vegetables and home cooked meals, and that is still how I like to eat now. I really believe in eating well, cooking at home and making informed choices about the food we buy. I am not afraid to ask the butcher if he knows how the animal lived before I buy meat, particularly chicken. I feel a strange affinity towards chicken.
C: I agree with Natalie, It’s about good food! For me, food is all about connection. I’m interested in where my food comes from—whether it’s a carrot from my garden, eggs from the farmer’s market, or spices from another country, there’s always a story. I like experimenting in the kitchen, getting my hands dirty, experiencing food with all five senses, and sharing that joy with other people.
How does a Twitter book club work, anyway?
It’s pretty simple, really. Every month the book club chooses a book. We post the book selection and a discussion schedule on the website, breaking the book up into four weekly segments, so everyone can discuss the same section each week. The real action takes place on Twitter, though. Participants can tweet their thoughts about the book on their own schedule—anywhere in the world, any time of day or night. They use the #ediblebooks hashtag on all of their tweets, so that it’s easy to follow the whole conversation and engage with each other. That’s it!
Has the club brought any surprises?
C: There are foods I absolutely take for granted that make no sense to readers in the UK at all. I start to realize how weird certain food items really are. Try explaining Canadian Bacon in 140 characters or less!
N: Discovering the amount of pre-packaged and frozen food you can get in the US. I thought you could just about get anything frozen here in the UK but I am still getting over the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich situation. That cannot be right!
Finally, do you ever indulge in a take-away meal or some fast food?
C: Absolutely! I love the occasional dinner of takeout Thai food. It’s even better when I can eat it while lying on the couch reading a book!
N: You could say that anything cooked quickly is fast food! I do love fish and chips, piping hot by the sea and from time to time I do enjoy a McDonalds. Shameful but true!