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Forge Your Own Book Club: The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae

The Picture Bride

By Ariana Carpentieri:

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to reflect on all you’re grateful for. And one of the things we’re most thankful for here at Forge is the existence of books like The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae. It’s a poignant story about the power of friendship that’ll fill you with hope as it takes your breath away. Both moving and uplifting, this is an incredibly fitting and timely story to read this month.

“Your husband is a landowner,” they told her.

“Food and clothing is so plentiful, it grows on trees.”

“You will be able to go to school.”

Of the three lies the matchmaker told Willow before she left home as a picture bride in 1918, the third hurt the most. Never one to be deterred, Willow does all that she can to make the best of her unexpected circumstance. But it isn’t long before her dreams for this new life are shattered, first by a husband who never wanted to marry her in the first place, and then by the escalation of the Korean independence movements, unified in goal, but divergent in action, which threaten to split the Hawaiian Korean community and divide Willow’s family and friends.

Braving the rough waters of these tumultuous years, Willow forges ahead, creating new dreams through her own blood, sweat, and tears; working tirelessly toward a better life for her family and loved ones.

The Picture Bride is the perfect pick for your next book club discussion. Here’s a breakdown on what to watch, what to eat, what to drink, what to listen to, and what to discuss while you read it!

What to Watch:

While similar in title, the film Picture Bride is also similar in content to the book The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi. After the main character’s father dies, she becomes the arranged wife of a migrant worker in Hawaii. She travels from Japan to the US, but finds it difficult adapting to the hard life of working on a sugar plantation and living with her new husband. During this time, she befriends another woman who also came over as a bride and is faced with the challenging task of evaluating where she truly belongs. 

What to Eat:

“They set down a bowl of bean paste stew in the middle of each table, and placed bowls of rice in front of each one. It was pure, white rice! In Korea, only the rich ate white rice, and Willow could not tear her eyes away. Her mouth was watering at the sight of the plentiful Korea-style dishes.” During the first meal eating with the bridegrooms at the inn, Willow was amazed at the sight of white rice on the table. So we think eating some steamed white rice would be a good meal to pair with this book–as a reminder that even the seemingly simple dishes are meaningful and to always be thankful for what you might consider to be the little things.

What to Drink:

Bubble Tea (also known as pearl milk tea, boba tea, or simply boba) is a drink that originate in Taiwan, but gained immense popularity in other countries such as Japan, China, and Korea. The tea is mixed with milk or fruits and topped off with chewy tapioca pearls. In recent years it has also gained popularity in the US, with many boba beverage franchises open across the country. We think grabbing one from your favorite local bubble tea shop would make for an excellent drink to sip on as you read (or you could even try your hand at making one from scratch at home!).

What to Listen to:

Since the brides in this book are originally from Korea, we think listening to Korean music while reading would be most fitting. BTS, a well-known South Korean band, has a playlist of softer songs that would make a great pairing as you sit and devour the immersive masterpiece that is The Picture Bride.

What to Discuss:

Download the The Picture Bride Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going!

Geum-Yi Picture Bride Reading Group Guide (1)

Click below to order your copy of The Picture Bride, available now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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By Julia Bergen

One of the best things about fall isn’t just the pretty leaves, hot drinks, and chilly weather, it’s that book clubs are starting up again! If your book club is reading Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan and needs a little inspiration, we’ve got tips on what to watch, what to drink, what to eat, and what to discuss!



What to Watch:

We’re in a golden age of twisty films and tv shows with strong female leads, which is the perfect energy to help your book clubs pull apart all the surprises in Her Perfect Life. Nine Perfect Strangers would make a great pairing, especially the way it deals with the quest for perfection, and the secrets we carry. Or, if you want a closer examination of life in the public eye, watch The Morning Show.

What to Drink:

If your book club has a dark sense of humor, have a bottle of rosé on hand. I can’t say why without spoiling an important scene, but if you’ve read the book you’ll know why. Characters are also constantly drinking coffee, which would add some extra buzz to your discussion.

What to Eat:

Her Perfect Life takes place in Boston, so you’ll want to pair this Bostonian book with some Bostonian goodies!

The classic choice is a nice Boston cream pie. Created by the famous Parker House Hotel, it’s the official dessert of Massachusetts. Another good option is a plate of cannolis. Boston has a huge Italian community, and the North End area has the most amazing Italian bakeries, which are most famous for their cannolis. On any given weekend you’ll find lines stretching down the street, people waiting for hours to get in and try some.

Or, keep it simple, with some treats from Dunkin’ Donuts. Bostonians love Dunkin’ Donuts to an almost unhealthy level. Back Bay Station, a relatively small train station, has two Dunkies so close together you could easily throw a jelly donut from one to the other. Serving a plate of donuts or a box of munchkins will give you an authentic Boston experience.

What to Discuss:

Download the Her Perfect Life Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

Her Perfect Life Reading Group Guide DIGITAL

Order Your Copy of Her Perfect Life—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: She Wouldn’t Change a Thing by Sarah Adlakha

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By Jennifer McClelland-Smith

Exploring the responsibilities love lays on us, the complicated burdens of motherhood, and the rippling impact of our choices, She Wouldn’t Change a Thing by Sarah Adlakha is a dazzling debut from a bright new voice.




What to Drink:

This book is set in the South, so you can’t go wrong offering a refreshing pitcher of sweet tea. Don’t forget to garnish with lemon or a sprig of mint! Match this gorgeous cover with a crisp rosé for book clubs who prefer a boozy option.

What to Eat:

This book gives you the perfect excuse to revisit 80s cuisine! Everything from sushi to pasta salad to quiche fit the bill. Pick up some frozen pizza rolls to really live that 80s high school experience. Or here’s a great recipe for homemade pizza rolls if you’d like to elevate it a bit!

What to Watch:

Sliding Doors, the 1998 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow is a great example of another “what if” story. Bonus points for a great soundtrack! If you’re looking for a way to think about connection and memory, check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet.

What to Discuss:

Download She Wouldn’t Change a Things Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

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What to Read Next: 

Pick up In Five Years by Rebecca Serle for another book that explores the choices we make with an unforgettable time-jumping story. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is another fun and poignant look at love, romance and life through the lens of an age-swap.

Order Your Copy of She Wouldn’t Change A Thing—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

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By Ariana Carpentieri

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she can’t help but wonder why she was saved.

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. But in order to make it work, they have to put aside their differences and rediscover the power of a little lake magic. If you’re planning on reading this charming tale with your book club, read on for our recommendations on what beverage, food, and music you should have to accompany your discussion, as well as what to talk about and what to read next!

What to Drink:

We think a southern sweet tea would be a perfect pick to pair with this book! If you’re looking for something boozy to spice up the club, then perhaps this recipe will hit the spot:


  • Steep 8 black tea bags in 1 cup boiling water for 6 minutes
  • Discard the tea bags
  • Stir in 1 1/2 cups raw sugar and the zest of 1 lemon (in strips)
  • Let cool
  • Strain into a pitcher
  • Add 3/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups southern comfort, 4 cups ice cubes and 1 sliced lemon
  • Stir to partially melt the ice
  • Pour into glasses and enjoy!

What to Eat:

Reading a book this sweet calls for an equally as sweet treat, and we think that a southern-style banana pudding would make the perfect pair! The author, Heather Webber, put together a delicious recipe card so that you can try making it for yourself!

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What to Listen to:

This book is full of southern charm and touches of lake magic, so we think a whimsical, magical song like The Lakes by Taylor Swift would be fitting, relaxing background music for your discussion.


What to Discuss:

Download The Lights of Sugarberry Cove Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

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What to Read Next:

If you’re looking for more stories that are perfect for summer reading, we suggest you check out Heather’s other books, Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe and South of the Buttonwood Tree! These books are also full of sweet southern charm, touches of magic, and would be excellent picks for your next book club discussion.

Order Your Copy of The Lights of Sugarberry Cove—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

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By Lizzy Hosty

After moving to the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and son, Allie Ross is soon framed for murder. When the police discover a Tinder relationship between her and the dead man, Allie realizes that someone has been impersonating her online. But when the cops and even her own husband starts to doubt her, Allie realizes that it’s up to her to discover the truth. With twists and turns and plot twists sure to keep any reader on their toes, I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson is the perfect read for your book club.

What to Drink:

Allie and her neighbors are rarely seen without a glass of wine in hand – so it’s the perfect time to bust out that bottle you’ve been saving for a rainy day. Fre Wines also has a great selection of non-alcoholic wines such as this delicious Rosé.

What to Eat:

A domestic thriller like this offers the perfect opportunity to show off your best cocktail party hors d’oeuvres! For a scrumptious brunch option, try this recipe for mini-quiches.

What to Watch:

The 2018 thriller movie Searching tells the story of a father who, through the use of technology, sets out to find his missing daughter. Along the way, he realizes that the daughter that he knew was nothing more than a mirage as he slowly starts to uncover just who she is now.

What to Discuss:

Download the I Don’t Forgive You Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

Thompson I Don't Forgive You RGG (1)

What to Read Next: 

For another twisty thriller about someone pretending to be someone they’re not, check out Hank Phillipi Ryan’s The First to Lie. After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets out to get justice through lies and manipulation, no matter what family secrets are unearthed. But she soon realizes she’s not the only one after revenge. Once your book club is finished with I Don’t Forgive You, add The First to Lie to your reading list!

Order Your Copy of I Don’t Forgive You—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: Remembrance by Rita Woods

Place holder  of - 37The rumor of an ancient magic calls across centuries in this powerful book. Weaving together stories of people escaping slavery and a nurse in present-day Cleveland, Remembrance by Rita Woods leaves a lasting impression and so much for any book club to discuss.

What to Drink:

Whether you go for decaf, half-caf or fully loaded, you can’t go wrong serving coffee to your book club. Because Haiti is such an important setting in this book, we’d suggest some fair trade Haitian coffee like Singing Rooster and Cafe Kreyol offer.

What to Eat:

From peppery and spicy to fruity and fresh, Haitian cuisine offers a wide array of delicious flavor! Interested in trying some of Haiti’s most noted dishes like pate (puff pastries with spiced ground beef or salted cod) or soup joumou? We’d recommend a cookbook like Haiti Cherie or recipes from Top Chef star Gregory Gourdet who frequently pays homage to his Haitian upbringing.

What to Watch:

The Underground Railroad, Barry Jenkins’ tv adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel on Amazon also tells a harrowing tale of escaping slavery with elements of the fantastic. For more on the history of Voodoo, Djimon Hounsou’s documentary In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven explores the origins of Voodoo in West Africa.

What to Discuss:

Download the Remembrance Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

Remembrance RGG Revised

What to Read Next: 

For another fantastical yet realistic take, The Underground Railroad as mentioned above is a perfect follow-up to Remembrance. Fans of this book will also appreciate the rich storytelling of genre-defying works like Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, or Kindred by Octavia Butler.

Order Your Copy of Remembrance—Available Now in Paperback!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: The Widow Queen by Elżbieta Cherezińska

Poster Placeholder of - 36The bold one, they call her—too bold for most. To her father, the great duke of Poland, Świętosława and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire. But Świętosława refuses to be simply a pawn in her father’s schemes; she seeks a throne of her own, with no husband by her side. The gods may grant her wish, but crowns sit heavy, and power is a sword that cuts both ways.

The Widow Queen tells the story of a powerful woman that has gone untold for too long. Fans of history, epic adventure and bold heroines will find everything they want and more! If you’re planning on reading this epic historical tale with your book club, read on for our recommendations on what food, drink, and music you should have to accompany your discussion, as well as what to talk about and what to read next! 

What to drink:

Boozy book clubs are in luck for this Polish adventure. Pick up a bottle of Polish vodka like Belvedere or Polish beer like Żywiec and serve either ice cold. Book clubs who prefer a non-alcoholic will be thrilled to try kompot. It’s a fruity and refreshing drink that’s so easy to make. We have suggested some fruits below, but this recipe would be delicious with any number of other fruits!

5 plums

  • 3 cups of cherries
  • 3 cups of blueberries
  • 1 gal of water
  • 3/4 cup of sugar or to taste


  • Bring 1 gal of water to a boil.
  • As water begins to boil, add fruit and bring water back to a boil.
  • Lower heat and let the mixture boil for 30 min uncovered.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of sugar or to taste.
  • Let kompot cool completely, strain off the juice and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

What to eat:

There’s no greater tribute to polish cuisine than a plate full of Polish sausage and pierogies. If your book club is looking for a less hearty meal remember, bagels originated in Poland! 

What to listen to:

A playlist of the piano pieces by Polish composer Frédéric Chopin is the perfect background music for your discussion.

What to discuss:

Download the Widow Queen Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.


What to read next:

If you’re interested in reading more Polish literature in translation, we highly recommend Flights by Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk or Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski, the inspiration for the Netflix series The Witcher. For more thrilling takes on historical fiction, you can’t go wrong with Nottingham and Lionhearts by Nathan Makaryk, The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker or Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King.

Order Your Copy of The Widow Queen—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

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A convicted killer. A gifted thief. A vicious ganglord. A disillusioned cop. Gathering Dark has all the elements of a truly gripping thriller… and so much for a book club to chew on! Candice Fox’s newest book has all of her signature touches – quirky characters, twists and turns, page-turning action, and, of course, an adorable animal cameo. Get your own book club together with these tips for an unforgettable gathering.


What to drink:

Los Angeles is the birthplace of the juice craze, so why not go all the way with a healthy green juice? Here’s one we like a lot right now:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, quartered
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 4 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 1 handful mint leaves
  • 1 celery rib

Add to an electric juicer or blender and juice! Serve over ice. 

If your book club is of the boozy variety, you can’t go wrong with a California wine. Dark Horse rosé is a great option under $20. And let’s not forget that Trader Joe’s good old Two-Buck Chuck is a California wine as well!

What to eat:

Los Angeles is home to too many iconic dishes to count. We’re suggesting this take on Bulgogi tacos to keep everyone’s mouth watering. You also can’t go wrong with your own spins on iconic LA places like Pink’s Hot Dogs, Randy’s Donuts, or the House of Pies.

What to listen to:

A book about four tough women living on the fringes of society coming together to save a missing girl? This calls for Joan Jett and the Runaways!

What to discuss:

Download the Gathering Dark Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

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What to read next:

From the gleaming streets of Beverly Hills to the eccentric characters of Venice Beach,  L.A. is a perfect setting for a crime thriller. If you’re still California dreamin’, we suggest L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker, Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley, Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall, and Dead West by Matt Goldman.

Order a Copy of Gathering Dark — Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: My Brilliant Life by Ae-ran Kim

Placeholder of  -7My Brilliant Life is one of those books that’s impossible to keep to yourself. A compact read about the world of Aerum, a teenager in a South Korean village diagnosed with a terminal illness, it indelibly explores issues of family, aging, love, and identity–just to name a few. It’s the kind of novel you just can’t wait to talk about! After you finish reading My Brilliant Life with your book club, try out these suggestions to keep the discussion going.



What to drink:

Little Grandpa Jang slips Aerum a bottle of Soju so he can get a taste of adulthood. We recommend serving Soju ice cold in chilled glasses. It’s best served neat, but also mixes well with fruit juice or dry ginger ale. 

Looking for a non-alcoholic option? Chilsung Cider is the most popular carbonated drink in Korea and can be found in Asian supermarkets here in the States.

What to eat:

You can’t go wrong with Bibimbap as it can easily adapt to different tastes and diets, and is irresistible in any form. 

What to listen to:

Ae-ran Kim put together a perfect playlist to accompany My Brilliant Life including songs and artists from the book. It’s perfect background music for discussion, and a great atmospheric playlist to put on any time!

What to discuss:

Download the My Brilliant Life Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

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What to read next:

Reading books in translation is a great way to travel without actually leaving the comfort of your couch! If you’re looking for another great book to read after My Brilliant Life, we suggest that you pick up one of these new books in translation recommended by the New York Times!

Order a Copy of My Brilliant Life — Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

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Julie Carrick Dalton’s Waiting for the Night Song is an engrossing read that touches on climate change, female friendships, long-buried secrets, immigration… and murder. In other words, it’s any book club’s dream come true. After you finish reading Waiting for the Night Song with your book club, try out these suggestions to keep the discussion going.

What to Drink:

Get a taste of the blueberries Cadie and Daniela pick from their canoe with blueberry punch! It’s a fizzy and refreshing treat. Prefer a cocktail to a mocktail? This drink is a great mixer for vodka or champagne.

Blueberry punch

  • 1 lb. blueberries
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup basil
  • Fizzy lemonade
  1.  Add the blueberries, basil, water and sugar to a medium saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2.  Pour the mixture through a strainer into a pitcher. Chill in the refrigerator until cool – about an hour.
  3.  Top off your pitcher with lemonade. Enjoy!


What to eat:

In honor of the Poacher’s Code, we recommend your favorite poached dish. We’ve found scrumptious recipes for poached eggs, poached salmon, and poached pears.


What to discuss

Download the Waiting for the Night Song Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

Waiting for the Night Song RGG

What to read next

Cadie’s reading list makes Waiting for the Night Song a book-lover’s delight. Revisit or discover for the first time classic reads that she shared with Garrett like Swiss Family Robinson, Tuck Everlasting or Robinson Crusoe.


Order a Copy of Waiting for the Night Song — Available Now!

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