Literary Event | Browser's Cookbook Book Club

So if you've been hanging out here with us a while, you know how much we love our literary dinner parties. We sincerely believe that creating a beautiful atmosphere enhances the enjoyment of any gathering, and we can apply this to books. We've gotten a pretty good handle on using our own spaces and creating within our own homes, so when the opportunity came to do our thing at a bigger event, we were all over it.


Our favorite local bookstore, Browsers, in Olympia, WA, hosts a quarterly cookbook book club, and we were excited for the opportunity to attend and style the event. The concept is simple: once a season they pick a cookbook, and members make a dish from it and bring it to share. A dinner party ensues as they sit down and enjoy a meal and conversation together in the upstairs space above the bookstore. It's such a great idea, and proves books don't have to be high literature to be a connecting force. This was their summer event, and members were to cook from any of Yotam Ottolenghi's published works.


Andrea, the bookstore owner (dream job!), and Kelli, a local food blogger work together to put on this book club. Aren't they lovely? They are some of the absolute nicest people, and amazing hostesses. We love connecting with other members of our community who are doing great things!

Before all the guests arrived, we got to talk to Andrea and Kelli. Mostly, we chatted about our mutual love of books (surprise!) and the role they play in our lives currently. While we were chatting about how much we love and enjoy socializing our lives through reading, something Kelly said especially stuck out to us , "It doesn't have to be fine literature." That we could bring so many people together over a cookbook was phenomenal. Some people were avid readers, but others simply love cooking. It was that simple. There's something for everyone and it doesn't take much to get involved, to meet new friends, and to talk about any type of book.

Our vision for decor for this event was to stay true to the vibe of the store and with the feel of summer. We chose pale green candles, an eclectic mix of candles, and a few other objects that made sense and fit in with the color palette of rose gold, light green, white, and pops of brighter oranges and pinks. These were all simply mixed along the center line of the tables; nothing fussy.

We didn't want to overwhelm the tables, just create a relaxed, slightly boho magic in the ambiance that was befitting of a summer evening gathering, while blending with the vintage-modern aesthetic of the store. We also tied up napkins with twine and tucked in our custom bookmarks and fresh sprigs of rosemary from Rikki's garden before setting them on the absolutely stunning plates that Andrea commissioned from local potter Mariella Luz. Silverware, jam jar drinking vessels, and flowers arrangements set in vintage glass jars by Fleurae completed the look.


Soon people began to arrive, setting gorgeous platters and bowls of food onto a separate table as they came in and began to mingle. Before long, the table was crowded with a variety of dishes, with everything from watermelon salads to fritters, and desserts. After a quick circle-up and brief announcements, everyone grabbed a plate and headed to go dish up a taste of everything while the tables glowed warmly behind us.


The tables ended up being split into two to accommodate all the guests, and people quickly claimed their seats and began to pour wine, chat, and discuss what foods they brought. Andrea also cleverly placed discussion questions in little envelopes under some of the plates, giving some structure and provoking deeper conversation at the tables. The conversation flowed seamlessly.

You know that electrifying feeling you get when you find yourself in a room full of positive buzzing energy? That was this event; it felt like just hanging out with friends at a relaxed dinner party, despite most people having just met for the first time. Also, we discovered that so many people who attended were doing such interesting things! Podcasters, writers, photographers, foodies, anesthesiologists, and more were all engaged in friendly conversation and discussing the merits of not only the cookbook, but also how food affects our lives.


By the end of the night, we were full and happy, and feeling like we just met a roomful of new friends. That's the best kind of event, right? The kind that leaves you full in more than ways than one by the end. We left feeling really encouraged that what we're doing has a place and future in the book world; that creating beautiful social gatherings based on a shared love of books, any type of books, is worthwhile. We are absolutely planning to continue to do more events, so keep an eye out!

Would you want to attend an event like this? Let us know what you think!



Venue | Browsers 

Flowers | Fleurae

Pottery | Mariella Luz


People + Talents

Andrea Ballard | Preheated Podcast

Jennifer Crain and Kelli Samson | Oly Appetizer

Cortney Kelley | Cortney Kelley Photography

Kelli Samson | Fresh Scratch