My favorite day out of every month is Book Club night. My fellow readers and I meet on the fourth Monday of each month to catch up, laugh, and eat a delicious home cooked meal. Then we sit back, relax, and talk about great books. The best part is that it hardly costs a thing! All of us have been affected by the economy in one way or another, and are on a tight budget. Even though new, hardback books can cost $25 or more (that's $300+ a year), we've mastered a book club on a budget:

Save on Gas: My book club members are my neighbors. We save on gas by simply walking to each others' houses or carpooling in bad weather. If your neighborhood isn’t as friendly, consider starting an after work club at your office or at church after the service. At the end of each book club meeting, we take turns volunteering to collect all of the books and return them to the library the next day, saving the rest of us the trip and gas.

Think Simple: My book club has 12 members, so we only have to budget for hosting the book club once a year. We also keep the food to  three dishes. The host provides the entrée, someone else brings a salad, and someone else brings a dessert… that's it! There's always plenty of food, and, with 12 people and 3 dishes, you only have to budget for bringing a dish every four months. Anything goes, so it never gets boring. In the summer, think fresh grilled salmon for an entrée, cool cucumber salad and shortcake made with in-season strawberries. For winter, try homemade meatloaf, hearty potato salad and warm pumpkin pie.

Library Books: The new "it" books can have hundreds of holds on them at the library, so everyone in the book club will have to buy. Gillian Flynn's new novel "Gone Girl" currently has 211 holds on it at my library! By selecting books that are classics, or a year or two old, everyone in your book club can more easily check out copies at the same time. Some of my favorites have been Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Abraham Verghese's "Cutting for Stone.” My library had about 20 copies of each.

Book Bag:  Many libraries have a Book Club in a Bag program. Pick up a bag containing everything you need for your book club, such as plenty of copies of the book, discussion questions, and the author's biography. This program is particularly helpful if your book club wants to read newer, popular books. My library has Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" and Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" as part of this program.

Plan Ahead: By choosing the hosts and books three or four months in advance, it gives everyone the opportunity to plan ahead to get great deals on the items they know they'll need. By no means did I have place settings for 12 people.With months to plan, I was able to pick up some beautiful extra wine glasses at the Goodwill for $0.50 each and I scored a 30 piece box of "fancy" plastic flatware for free after mail-in rebate. I combined coupons with a store sale to get canned tomatoes for my meatloaf for free.

Discount Books: If you have to buy books, Amazon is a great source for discounted and used books. Don't forget to check out your local used book stores. At my local store, I snagged a copy of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" for a dime!

 This has been a guest post by Becky from Nashville, TN
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Literature for Less: How to Book Club on a Budget