In The Club

In the Club – 1/15/20

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. Vanessa here, fresh off of playing in the Portland “snow” that came down for all of 15 minutes. The locals were like, “Yeah, it’s frozen water coming down from the sky, we know;” meanwhile your girl jumped around in the street living her best life.

Here’s to finding joy in everyday things. To the club!!

Yo…. Harry and Meghan put a “Dear Liz, Nah.” letter on the internet and told the monarchy to go kick rocks! The extent of my interest in the royals doesn’t normally go beyond my obsession with The Crown, but Megxit reminds me how much I enjoy a good royals-defying-expectations (and sometimes giving-their-stuffy-families-the-finger) narrative. This week’s book club recs are thus about royalty acting up and out.

Discussion points: These books that include queer representation, characters of color, and a queen whose historical characterization I find overly simple. Discuss how these narratives depart from what comes to mind for you when you think of the Royal Family. Talk about the function of the monarchy and its place in modern society, and whether the trappings of life as a royal are worth having to life your life a certain way.

Nibbles and Sips

Did I pick a royals theme just so I could suggest a proper afternoon tea in this newsletter? Perhaps. Have I suggested this at least once before? Possibly. I’m a sucker for a tea party, what can I say? Here’s a sample menu:

Afternoon tea at the Jane Austen Centre's Regency Tea Room in Bath (2017 property of V Diaz)

Savories: Some mini sausage rolls with Branston pickle and an assortment of tea sandwiches, like cucumber + cream cheese, egg salad, and cranberry chicken salad.

Scones: A plain but quality scone, one that stands up to a beautiful, rich clotted cream and bright, delicious jam. I love this recipe and the delightful 88-year-old lady in it!

Sweets: Grapes, strawberries, or some sliced apples and two or more mini desserts depending on the size of the party, like a classic Victoria sponge or some petit fours.

Next you’ll need a pot or two of tea. I always serve at least one black tea  and one low (or no) caffeine option, something herbal or a nice white tea. Serve it up with some cream (or your favorite non-dairy alternative) and sugar and/or honey.

A Royal Mess

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I’m shielding my eyes as I confess the following: I still have not read Red, White, and Royal Blue! I feel confident recommending this title based on many a colleague’s glowing review. This is a rom-com in which Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son, falls in love with Henry, the Prince of Wales. When a scandal of big ol’ nternational proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends, complicated feelings (insert sexy saxophone music here) ensues.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne – This epic #ownvoices fantasy (the first in a trilogy!) is inspired by Latinx culture and tradition, so you know I’m on board. Alfehr is a young prince hellbent on finding the brother that was taken from his family in an attempted coup. It is believed by most that the brother is dead, but Alfie believes he can get him back through the use of dark, forbidden magic. One night, his path crosses with that of a face-shifting thief in a high-stakes, magical gambling ring; that chance meeting changes both of their lives when Alfie kinda accidentally unleashes a terrible, ancient power that will bring about the end of the world if not contained.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff – This is the book that made me a die-hard Stacy Schiff fan; she writes non-fiction that reads like fiction and that teaches you a ton. This is a deep dive into the legacy—and infamy—of the enigmatic queen of Egypt. I tend to describe it with a line from the television gem that was MTV Diaries: “You think you know, but you have no idea.” I stand by that pitch: this fascinating historical figure is so often reduced to the sum of her womanly wiles, but she was a strategist, a shrewd negotiator, and though sometimes messy, a powerful force.

Suggestion Section

Have you heard? We recently relaunched Book Riot Insiders! It’s a new year with new perks, including a group read at the Epic level. It’s basically a book club with Book Riot friends!

Speaking of that “New Year, New Me” state of mind: some thoughts on revamping a book club or maybe starting one altogether.

Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, get it on the Read Harder podcast, and watch me booktube every Tuesday and Friday too.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.

More Resources:
– Our Book Group In A Box guide
– List your group on the Book Group Resources page