DIY Book Clubs

Are you in a book club? Would you like to start one? We have everything you need to host your own book club, from the discussion questions to recipes based on food described in the book. Download the PDFs below.

Enter our Contest:

Send a photo and brief description of your book club meeting to, and you could win a $100 Metcalfe’s Market gift card to spend on next year’s All-City Read book club get-together. Get creative and be sure to try make some of the recipes below!

Deadline for entries: Thursday, March 8, 2018

Your Discussion:

Lab Girl – Questions for Discussion
About Hope Jahren and Lab Girl
Awards and Critical Acclaim for Lab Girl
An Interview with Hope Jahren

Recipes for Your Meeting:

Book club meetings aren’t just about the book. Sharing food and drinks adds to the fun! We’ve found some great recipes to enhance your discussion of Lab Girl. Try some and impress your guests! Special thanks to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food editor and committee member Nancy Stohs for finding all of the food references in the book, locating appropriate recipes, cooking them, photographing them and tasting them for us.

Book Club Recipes for Lab Girl

What to serve at a book club discussion of Lab Girl? Food doesn’t really factor into Hope Jahren’s story.

Plant foods are a natural, considering the focus of her research. But that doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to a big bowl of salad greens…

Let’s dig a bit deeper (pun intended). Think roots, leaves and seeds.


If you’re serving a full meal, you could roast up a pan of root vegetables.

For an easy snack, simply open a bag of root veggie chips.

Or try:
Beet Quick Bread or Chocolate Beet Quick Bread


Kale Chips (Updated). Of course.

And there’s nothing wrong with a big bowl of salad! Toss some assorted greens with roasted beets, some goat cheese, oranges or other favorite ingredients and top it with sunflower seeds for all three plant parts in one dish.


How about Sweet Roasted Chickpeas or Spicy Roasted Chickpeas? (Legumes are, in fact, seeds.) Or set out a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds.


What else but Dirt Cake? Make your favorite recipe or try ours, with homemade Vanilla Pudding and real whipped cream.

Or make a jellyroll cake and decorate it with chocolate frosting to resemble a log, à la buche de Noel (meringue mushrooms optional). We call our recipe the Log of Life cake.

Or bake up a batch of Mixed Seed Clusters and sprinkle it on servings of ice cream.


You can never go wrong with wine at a book club gathering, no matter what the book. Or try one of these science-y or plant-themed cocktails:

The Magnetic Storm

Madame Curie Cocktail

Pineapple Basil Cocktail


Finally, have a little fun with the science theme. Make a trip to your favorite science store (we went to American Science and Surplus) for some glass beakers and flasks for serving drinks and treats. We even found a light bulb vase (think genius ideas) to fill with flowers as a centerpiece.

Wine in lab flask

Wine poured from lab flasks, snacks served in petri dishes
and a slim lab cylinder used as a bud vase add a little
science-themed fun to your gathering.

Flowers in bulb vase

We found this light bulb flower vase at American Science & Surplus at 6901 W. Oklahoma Ave., but you can also find it online. Consider it an homage to that cartoon-y symbol for the sudden appearance of a genius idea.