Book clubs are one of the best ways for book lovers to join forces, enjoy stimulating conversations, get exposed to new books, and have fun doing what they love to do. Now, with social distancing guidelines in place to protect everyone from COVID-19, it's time to shift from your usual local coffee shop meetups and move the gang to an online platform.
While it might seem like a daunting task, setting up an online book club can be simple, fun and offer even more diversity than a traditional reading group. Without needing to worry about physical meeting spaces, your book club members can live on opposite coasts, arranging meeting times that work for everyone or keeping an online discussion board open for whenever the mood strikes.
Whether you're avid readers working through the ultimate reading list, or you're looking for a social outlet during this time of isolation and have decided to create a new kind of book club, here are some simple steps you can take to start a successful online book club!
Get the Word Out
If you're moving an IRL club to an online platform, you're a step ahead. But if this is your first time creating a virtual reading group, you’ll need to rally the troops and find willing participants who are ready to commit to the group's reading goals. But you've got this!
Whether it’s your closest group of gal pals, the whole gang from the office, a group of gung-ho family members that span generations, or a group of like-minded people you met online, just about any group of dedicated individuals can come together and create a successful online book club.
Once your group is assembled, you can use different social media platforms to get everyone organized in a dedicated space. A Facebook Group can bring you together to chat, learn more about one another and easily share updates, like when your first meeting will take place and what discussion questions the group will be talking about.
Even better, Goodreads is a bookish social media site that can allow the members of your group to read and write book reviews, keep a virtual bookshelf of finished titles, or find the perfect next book for your TBR ("to be read") list!
Choose a Title
Google has estimated that over recorded history, 130 million books have been published! Considering that, there's certainly not a shortage of books to read, but the sheer overabundance can certainly become a problem in and of itself. Analysis paralysis is a very real thing that many reading groups will likely have to overcome.
Luckily, there are a few tactics that can make choosing a title more manageable. Month by month, the group can read through handpicked choices, like the titles selected for Oprah's Book Club or the current New York Times bestseller list. Or, before everyone chooses the first book to read, each member can add a title that interests them and each month a new book can be chosen from that TBR list.
If the pressure of choosing is simply too daunting, leave the decision-making in someone else's hands entirely! Monthly subscription boxes solve this problem. Not only is the month's book choice a surprise for everyone, it is delivered right to the front door, so everyone can easily get on the same page. Narrow your preferences to a genre, like romance, and leave specifics up to the pros at Fresh Fiction Box Not to Miss, or choose a collective goal, like personal growth, and read the monthly non-fiction pick from the Enlightened Warrior Book Club, which arrives with self-care essentials to sweeten the deal!
Make the Most of Online Meetups
For those who think that online book clubs aren't for them -- being there as much for the social interaction as they are for the engaging book discussion -- think again! Even if you are connecting over Google Hangouts, there are plenty of ways to add in the social connection you crave. From the comfort of your own respective homes, you can enjoy everything from mud masks to mimosas while connecting over your favorite characters.
Get the inspiration you need from monthly boxes that bring more than just a good book. Try out Introverts Retreat to host a proper girl's night in with a box focused on both reading and relaxing, or let loose with Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club, a monthly box that delivers delicious recipes to whip up with your reads.
If your book club is filled with first-timers feeling unsure about hitting those reading goals and deadlines, Once Upon a Book Club is a monthly box that can add a little incentive to not slack on the reading! Bringing an interactive reading experience, each monthly book arrives with 3-5 curated gifts, all wrapped and marked with a specific page number. Your reading group can use these special pages as targets, then gather online to open the next secret surprise together. It’s the perfect way to reward staying on top of the reading!
You're the Author of the Rules
Lastly, it's important to remember that running a successful online book club does not mean you need to follow any one set of rules. Since you are the author here, the options really are endless!
If you have a group that is simply interested in reading and chatting, then throw out those standard practices, make flexibility your foundation, and build on that! There's really no need to agree on a genre or a particular title. Everyone can just pick up a book and read -- and book club meetings can simply focus on why you liked a particular title or not.
Form a "no rules" book club where everyone chooses their own preferred genre, then puts their trust in the dedicated bibliophiles behind and the Story Begins to handpick 2 highly-rated books and ship them directly to each member. After the stories have been read and the yays or nays have been doled out, all the members can share the books with one another!
No matter what type of online book club you have in mind, our virtual shelves are stocked with monthly book boxes that bring page-turners and plenty of fun!