How To Take Your Book Club Online While Practicing Social Distancing

Photographed by Eylul Aslan.
With practically everything closed to encourage social distancing, we've all got a lot more time on our hands to enjoy a good book or two or twenty. However, since we're all limiting our personal interactions — the latest recommendation from the Centres for Disease Control is no gatherings of more than 10 people — it might feel as if you've got no one to talk to about that book that you couldn't put down. The truth is despite being unable to physically meet up to chat about this year's best books, there are still tons of ways to host your own digital book club. So, here are a few tips on how to take your book club online during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Keep Your Ground Rules & Structure
First, the rules of your standard book club still apply: Keep to a schedule, stick to your proposed theme, and prepare questions to help stimulate conversation. Your local library's website is a great resource for discussion questions that will keep everyone engaged. As is LitLovers, the online book forum, which provides book club games and icebreakers that would work for any book.
Use Online Tools (& Their Bonus Perks) To Prep
Goodreads can also help you organise your book club. The book recommendation website allows you keep track of members, moderate discussions on the forum, and catalog the books you have read and plan to read in the future. An especially helpful tool since going digital with your book club allows it to include members outside your community. Seriously, invite that bookworm friend of yours who lives halfway across the world to join.
"Meet Up" With Your Book Club
To get everyone in the same digital meeting space, there are apps that can help. Skype's group video chat is a free tool that will allow for up to 10 people to be in the same "room" together on their phone, computer or other devices for up to four hours. Google Hangouts is another free resource that will allow up to 25 people to well, hangout. For Apple users, FaceTime allows for group video chats up to 32 people and Snapchat Video Calls allows up to 16 people to chat for free — with filters!
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Another great way to connect is Zoom, the video conferencing app that can host up to 100 people at a time, but costs money for meetings over 40 minutes. The perk here is you can change your Zoom backgrounds to whatever you like. Maybe you want your book club to take place on the beach or at the top of a mountain. Perhaps you prefer to get all fancy and hold your book club in the setting of the book you're discussing. That's certainly a way to further immerse yourself in the material, right?
Additional Tools For Book Club Communication
Looking for something a bit more writerly? Host your book club using free messaging apps like Slack. This keeps the conversation free-flowing and also becomes a space to post important book club updates. Maybe that includes using Google Forms to create online surveys that could help when it comes to picking your next book.
And if you're feeling really creative, think about bringing your book club to TikTok. Summing your deep book thoughts into 15-second increments is certainly a challenge. Honestly, in the age of coronavirus, a viral book club dance might be just what we need right now.
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