Everything you need to know about hosting your own virtual book club

Unlike the traditional kind, a virtual book club is a lot easier. For a start, you don’t have to move very far to join one and members can all meet up safely from wherever they are in the world. There’s also the chance that, if you’re getting bored of your friends stamp faces on Zoom, you’ll meet some new blood, people you’ll get to know surprisingly quickly.

By now we’re all very experienced in lockdown life – we can bake sourdough, we’ve become masters of shaking up the perfect quarantinis and for those of us lucky to be working from home, we may be enjoying our new remote, virtual lives more than we thought. The days seem longer, we can eat dinner early and take a proper stroll at lunchtime. Plus, there’s ample time for getting our noses stuck into a book.

If you were part of a book club before lockdown or now suddenly realising that reading and catching up with friends is the perfect combo, it may be time to start your own virtual book club.

Here’s our guide to hosting the perfect virtual book club – one that may even carry on long after lockdown.

Select a virtual club venue

Since coffee shops, pubs and other people’s houses are off the cards for the time being, this is more a case of finding the right digital platform to host your virtual book club.

Zoom may be the obvious choice but there’s also Google Hangouts, Skype or the Book Movement’s Book Club app which was specifically designed to help book fans host a club digitally. You can add members, build a private bookshelf that puts meeting details, RVSPs, discussion questions, book info and Amazon links all in one place. Genius.

Choosing the book

Book clubs are all about reading outside of our comfort zones so it makes sense that members alternate on who picks a book for every meeting which is great for broadening everyone’s literary horizons.

Keep an eye on our favourite new releases and rediscovered classics for some inspiration.

It’s a good idea to have a moderator for each club night which could be the person who chose the book initially. They would give everyone the opportunity to speak as much as possible – there’s nothing worse than a collective talking-over-each-other chat.

Support local book shops

Just because you’re at home, that doesn’t mean everything needs to come from Amazon. Your virtual book club can be a great way to support local businesses who might still be offering deliveries.

Find out if your local bookshop is offering contact-free deliveries or head to Hive.co.uk, an online marketplace that connects you to local high street bookshops across the UK and offers free shipping.

If you prefer eBooks or audiobooks, websites like My Must Reads and Libro.FM allow you to buy digital and audio editions directly through local bookstores as well. There’s literally no excuse for you not to give small businesses a helping hand.

Theme your refreshments

What’s a book club without drinks and snacks? No need to worry about anyone else’s preferences for virtual meet-ups – this is all about what you want. How about creating your own literary-inspired cocktails for each session? A Romeo and Julep or A Rum of One’s Own, anyone? The more creative, the better.

And if you can’t be bothered to make your own virtual book club join one of these…
  • Fans of Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch set up the Between Two Books club as tribute to the singer and when she heard about it, she wasted no time getting involved and has conducted big-name interviews and even given it name drop in a recent gig.
  • Celebrity vlogger and author Zoella set up Zoella Book Club for lovers of young adult fiction and the club includes heaps of reviews of books and interviews with their authors.
  • The famous Oprah’s Book Club calls itself an “interactive, multi-platform reading club bringing passionate readers together to discuss inspiring stories” – and it has a massive global fanbase.
  • Emma Watson’s, Our Shared Shelf has a feminist theme that arose from the actress’s work with UN Women and literature about female empowerment takes centre stage here.

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