Virtual book clubs offer up a great chance to keep in touch with friends no matter where you're located. You can create a small club with your nearest and dearest, or open the club up to friends of friends and grow your circle with like-minded pals. Sharing your love of reading, books, and conversation will broaden everyone's experience and give the gift of much-missed company during even the most isolated of times.
There's no right way to host a virtual book club, but we're sharing our best tips to get you started. Pick which ones feel right for you, choose your first book, and set a time to discuss!
One of the most important things to consider when hosting a virtual book club with friends will be time. Some will have more free time than others to commit to a regular “read and meet” so be sure to encourage everyone to stay honest about their availability — the last thing a book club should be is stressful!
The first step is deciding what days or times work best for everyone to meet and discuss the book. Second, but no less important, will be determining how long everyone will need to finish reading the assigned pages. You can choose to meet after a certain number of chapters, or after the entire book has been read. Either way, be sure to decide on a time that holds your friends to a deadline without causing undue stress.
If you're keeping the team small, order some personalized Christmas stockings and send them to each friend with the first book already inside to get the ball rolling.
You can't have a book club without a book in mind, so decide as a team how your book choices will be made. You can throw a bunch of ideas into a virtual sorting hat, or let each person pick their must-read and go down the line alphabetically.
Figure out what it is everybody wants to discuss. Is it the characters, themes, and plot, or just what you loved and disliked? There are countless ways to have a conversation, so we won't spell out that process here. Just chat amongst yourselves and figure out what works best from week to week and book to book.
The vibe is also entirely your call! Are you a wine-drinking group or a cozy tea-drinking team? Do you want this to be a laugh-fest or an academic exercise? If you have a mix of interests in your club, send out a survey and try to blend people's responses as best you can.
Something else to consider is how you'll be keeping in touch. One option is to create a group text chat for everyone to share their thoughts as they hit milestones, being careful not to spoil any major plot points. Create parameters for this type of communication, like "once everyone finishes the chapter, we can unload our initial thoughts" or "try to be as vague as possible until the final discussion!" Meeting over video chat will feel the closest to an in-person book club, so plan to find the best platform for everyone. That usually means something easy to use and preferably free!
If you're a tight-knit group of friends, consider getting everyone a personalized throw blanket that they can snuggle up with while they read. It'll be a great source of smiles and solidarity for everyone to think of each other during the day, and to see their matching blankets over Book Club video calls, too.
You know your friends better than anyone else. If you have similar styles, try setting up a dress code of some sort for your calls. It'll give everyone something to look forward to — a reminder that this hour is a sacred one. Dress codes don't have to be serious, either. You can decide that Book Club is an opportunity to hop into your comfy clothes or dress up a bit with your favorite tunic tops.
You can also decide to wear outfits that will match a theme or character in the book you're currently discussing. Either way, remember to grant your pals some grace in case they show up as they are, frazzled and fritzed from a busy day, and relaxing in a set of women's thermals.
One final, more personal tip: Put that canvas tote bag you have lying around to good use. Carry your book with you wherever you go, from the pickup line at school to the doctor's office and beyond. You'll feel invigorated by the new worlds you're discovering, and you'll also feel even closer to your friend group as you read along together with shared plans and goals.