Reading a romance novel is often a solitary experience – it’s curling up in an armchair with a cup of tea on a rainy day, settling in for a long soak in the bath, or finding a slice of fantasy on a long commute. But it doesn’t have to be! If you have a circle of romance-loving friends, getting together to read a romance aloud is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite genre together. Like a book club with no preparation necessary, a read-aloud party brings romance to life in a super fun way. If you’re feeling withdrawal from girls’ nights in with no more Bachelor viewing sessions, try getting the crew together for some reading!
How to Pick the Perfect Book
Whatever book you choose will be at the center of your party, so it’s important to pick the right one! This probably isn’t the time for anything super dramatic or tragic unless you like a good group cry (you do you). Instead, look for books that are on the lighter side, with easy, straightforward prose. This also probably isn’t the best time for that sexy sci-fi novel where every character has either an “X” or an apostrophe in their name, if not both. You want something that’s going to be easy for you and your friends to read and pronounce.
Give major bonus points to a book that has a strong narrative voice. A colorful first person narrator seriously pops when read aloud, making it more fun to read and more fun to listen to! You’ll also want to consider the appropriate heat level for your group. Personally, I say the saucier, the better – the whole point is a fun group experience, and I’m in favor of any bits that earn giggles and wolf whistles – but take into account your friends’ comfort level.
Choosing a new story for the whole crowd guarantees a lot of fun for everyone, but a read-aloud session can also be perfect for enjoying an old favorite in a new way. Unless you pick a fairly brief novella, you won’t be able to make it through an entire book in a single evening, so reading a book everyone is already familiar with will leave you with fewer loose ends at the end of the night.
Planning the Party
The rest of the party can really follow any of your favorite party plans. Wine and cheese, brunch fixings, sweets and treats: the only must-have is plenty of beverages. You don’t want anyone’s throat getting dry while they’re reading!
Make sure you have plenty of room for everyone to settle in and relax since you’ll all be sitting together for a while. Extra pillows and blankets are always a good idea. This definitely isn’t the party to get creative with mood lighting. Just say no to eye strain with bright lights that will be easy to read by.
Only one copy of the book is really necessary for your party. You can definitely have extras on hand if you think passing a single copy around might be annoying in your set-up, but I think that sharing the book adds a lot to the vibe. (If you do have more than one copy, don’t let anyone start reading ahead!)
It’s time to read! This party works best when the book is being passed from reader to reader regularly, giving everyone a chance to be the star and everyone a chance to sit back and listen. Your specific book will help determine how long each person takes on their turn to read; in my experience, a full chapter is usually a little too long. You can set a basic page count or time limit to start off with; as you read, your group will start to find a rhythm to the story.
Obviously this is supposed to be fun, and anyone who’s shy about reading out loud should feel free to pass the book along and choose just to listen. You might have a few shrinking violets when you get started, but I’ve found that after a few rounds everyone ends up eager to have a turn playing narrator.
A read-aloud party has a delightful grown-up slumber party vibe. Like I said above, you obviously won’t be able to finish a full novel during a single party, so this can easily become a fun series of parties. I’d love to have a standing weekly date to curl up with some good friends (and maybe some good wine) to share a good book.
Here are five slumber party starters: