Digital Book Clubs

Currently, we find ourselves in a different sort of world. We can’t quickly pop down to the shop or picnic in the park, and for most, we’re not allowed to gather with people outside our immediate family.

It’s incredibly important to #flattenthecurve, but we don’t have to ignore that this may be difficult for many people. Let’s all say it aloud, “This sucks.”

While our lives are seemingly put on hold, many of us find ourselves longing for social interaction now more than ever. Gone are the dinner parties and book clubs of the past, and now we must find a new way to have that connection with others.

I moved nearly 1k miles away from most of my friends and family in the past year, and throughout the year, I’ve found different ways to interact and connect with loved ones.

One of these ways is starting a long-distance book club with my best friend. I thought this was as good a time as ever to share my tips on creating an engaging book club online.

Where/How to meet up?
First and foremost, you must decide the best way to “meet up.” We chose video conferencing because it allows you to see the people as if you were actually together. I suggest Zoom, but Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or WhatsApp. Really just choose the avenue best for you and what sort of interaction you’d like.

How to make the most of your time
Many established book clubs have questions and discussion points prepared prior to the meeting for attendees to use during, but if you’ve never run a book club or carried a discussion about a book, this can seem an impossible task. Here’s some suggestions for the best time management:

  • Choose a moderator
    • Make sure there’s one person “in charge” of each meeting.
  • Set reasonable page allotments
    • Some people aren’t able to read quickly through a book. Make sure to set a reasonable amount of pages to read for each meeting. We usually do 100-150 pages.
  • Set up a schedule
    • Find out what’s the best cadence for each person to meet. No one has to attend each meeting, but it’s a good practice to try to get as many on the list as possible there for most meetings.
  • Keep the group small
    • This is especially important when doing digital. You’ll want everyone to be able to have time to discuss their thoughts.
  • Take notes while reading
    • I usually keep a notebook with me and write down quotes, questions, and thoughts as well as the page number so I can quickly refer back to it while discussing. *Make note of any themes or reoccurring symbolism.*
  • Leave a 5-10 minutes open in the beginning
    • This will give people time to get logged in, settled, and have some socializing before you settle into a discussion.

Create an online survey or Google Doc/Sheet to select books
Google Docs/Sheets are a great way to dump ideas, notes, and book suggestions for the book club. This can also be a way to keep track of who will be moderating each week. I usually create a Google Sheet to keep track of what pages and who is moderating which meeting.

So, if nothing else, we’re lucky to be in a digital age right now where we can connect while still following social-distancing guidelines! Take some time, reach out to those you love, and isolate with a book!


B L Knight View All →

Escaping the real world by writing worlds of my own.

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