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How to start a virtual book club — or revive a languishing one

Here we are, in our third year of the pandemic, and I’m in no rush to get back to in-person meetings with large groups. Although I miss the bonds around common interests, the idea of ​​being in a packed house remains unappealing when the surges happen every couple of months. So how can you safely and remotely spend time with your book-loving friends? Starting a virtual book club is one idea.

The pandemic very quickly changed the way people came together to pass the time. Where once most of our meetings and parties were in person, many have moved online. Organizing book clubs has practically become a way for readers to reach out and connect with other bookworms, and they continue to thrive even now as we take tentative steps to hang out with friends. in person. Carolina Ciucci’s ode to virtual book clubs highlighted some of the ways groups like these foster connections, including that they’re more inclusive and don’t even have to be entirely local.

For example, I joined an online writing group in July 2020. The group was the one I had wanted to join in the Before Times, but couldn’t because it was based in a library which would be difficult for me to access during post-work at rush hour. When the band decided to reform using Zoom’s digital space, I was no longer restricted by traffic or working hours. After wanting to join this group for a year, I finally could. And I have stayed ever since.

The group is small; there are regularly three of us, and occasionally one or two people are present, so we can easily take the time to catch up and discuss current books / writing / the library. During the meeting, you can have a drink and snack, and I even wore my pajamas on the sly once or twice. I like the intimacy of the virtual writers group, and I’m in no rush to move it to a library space – when it does, membership will likely grow, allowing for less personal discussion, and we don’t. wouldn’t be allowed alcohol or PJ.

In fact, book clubs and writers groups are probably one of the smoothest things to do online. So what are the steps to create one? How do you create the club and organize the meetings?

Basic planning

How big do you want the group to be? Personally, I suggest that smaller is better, as the compactness of the group will build deeper intimacy and prevent meetings from lasting too long. Also, having a very small core group will make planning a lot easier, and if the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that we need to refrain from overwhelming ourselves with plans. On the other hand, large virtual book clubs will create more energetic discussions. So it really depends on how you envision your group. Then there are other important decisions: pick a genre or theme, a club name, and pick the date, time, and online dating app. You can use Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Teams or Facebook Messenger. Consider doing some research to find out which has the best features for you and your club.

Stay in touch between meetings

You can create a Facebook group or What’s App conversation that accompanies your virtual book club. In fact, a consistent parallel discussion on a social media site can keep group dynamics and conversation energized between sessions. After all, the group probably exists because you have a common interest, so you might want to share information or recommendations between sessions.

Share book selection tasks

This one is so, so important. No one probably wants the task of constantly being responsible for choosing the next book. Ultimately, all club members should contribute as part of accepting membership and they should try to maintain a “yes and” attitude. Whether you like a certain genre, subgenre, or author isn’t the point of a virtual book club — the point is to chat. So maybe an unexpected book will be enjoyable, and if not, you’ll have an engaging but respectful debate at the next meeting. If you just want to read exactly what you already love, you don’t need a book club. This is exactly what you read every other day of the year.

If your book club is getting slow

Do you ever have a group that started out strong with engaging conversations, but then started to drop in attendance? Are people starting to send their regrets?

It can all get routine if you do it for too long, but there are plenty of fun ways to reinvigorate your remote bookraising. Choose a new topic, as specific or general as books on boats, LGBTQ+ romances or biographies of scientists. Another option is to do something different for a single session – maybe you usually read literary fiction, but this time you choose a picture book or graphic novel. These are shorter but can have very insightful discussion topics.

Another idea may be to use magnetic poetry or the cut-out writing technique to create silly poems and then discuss them for a session or two. Or find book-adjacent topics to discuss – songs that remind you of your most beloved books or characters, with you playing the song for the band and then explaining why.

Overall, this club is meant to be a fun way for you to hang out with people who like the same things you do, so keep it going for as long as it feels like a satisfying and happy outlet for some creative pursuits. . And don’t worry about shaking it around a bit and making changes as you go, because your fellow readers might even be hoping for a change in format as well.

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