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How to Start an Online Book Club

Online book clubs allow for great discussion without your leaving home. Here's how to create your own.

Let's face it: you're busier than ever. It's hard enough for book lovers to finish everything on their reading list, much less find an hour to attend a club meeting. There are babysitters to consider, traffic to contend with, and the all-too-irritating task of looking halfway presentable. Why not bring the discussion into your own home and create an online book club?

Lo and behold, your favorite social media platform can offer an equally rewarding book club experience—not to mention unbeatable flexibility and a no-pants-required policy. Online book clubs are also likely to become even more popular as more and more of the world practices social distancing, in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak

Whether you're a Facebook addict, an avid tweeter, or are willing to be part of any group that will read books with you, creating an online book club has never been easier. We've put together a comprehensive how-to guide so you can start reading and discussing new books. Now put on your PJs, pour some Pinot, and let's go clubbing!

Facebook

You’re already “Friends” with your best pals, your mom, and the co-worker with surprisingly good taste in books. By hosting your monthly book club on Facebook, you have a built-in pool of potential members to choose from. The simple steps:

  1. On your News Feed, you’ll see a “Explore” option in the left-hand sidebar. Click “Group” underneath, then click “+Create Group.”
  2. Name your “Group”, decide whether you want to be “Private” or “Public”, and invite members. No worries if don’t want Mom to join the fun – you can invite your entire Friend roster, or just a select few.
  3. Now that you’ve created your “Group” page, everyone can post videos, photos, participate in polls, and more. Starting a discussion is easy: publish a post and have members share their thoughts in the comments. Appoint a moderator and/or admin to help things run more smoothly.

Twitter

Don’t let the 280-character limit intimidate you—you can absolutely have a great conversation on Twitter! Create a new account to serve as club headquarters or simply stick with your pre-existing Twitter. No matter what you choose, here are the essentials:

  1. Create a club hashtag (#). It should be unique and short to allow everyone maximum space for squeeing over Mr. Darcy.
  2. Encourage your members to include the hashtag in any club-related tweets so that they can find and follow discussions easily.
  3. Use a tool like tchat.io to organize the chaos into a designated virtual “room.” This filter out all other tweets, so you only see comments that include your hashtag. Be the chat moderator (come prepared with questions to keep the conversation flowing!), or pick someone else to help facilitate discussion.

A Twitter bonus? You might even get to have a discussion with the author! Many writers are receptive to fan tweets (Jodi Picoult, Maggie Stiefvater, and Diana Gabaldon, to name a few). Extra points if you’re noticed by the author of your club’s current pick!

Goodreads

While the aforementioned platforms make excellent hosts for your book club, Goodreads is specifically designed to track and discuss your latest literary finds. And if you’re a tried and true bookworm, you probably already have an account, right? (But if you don’t, you can make one in seconds.) Up your game by using the site as your book club hub, and give Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf a run for her money:

  1. Log into your account and hover over “Community” in the toolbar. Then Click “Groups.”
  2. Under “More Groups,”, choose “Create Group.”
  3. Name your book club, write a description, make the rules, and complete the rest of your book club settings. Don’t forget to add tags so that other like-minded readers can find you!
  4. Why is Goodreads extra awesome? It allows you to invite members using your Goodreads and Facebook friends. Plus, if you’re open to making new friends, their algorithm will suggest other GR users too.
  5. Now that you’ve finished general housekeeping, it’s time to post your first topic. For the sake of clarity, organize your discussions into folders – “Introduction,” “This Week’s Reading,” and the like.
  6. It’s important to add your club’s current book to your “Bookshelf.” This will help you keep an ongoing reading list, update your members, and attract new ones with similar tastes.

Other Goodreads goodies to know about? You can post photos and videos, schedule meet-ups…and melt into an online booktopia where everyone shares your frustration with George RR Martin.

Slack

If you miss the days of AIM, Slack is for you. You might already know Slack as a chatting platform designed for offices, but there’s no reason you can’t use it for fun, too! (In fact, Slack has made it so easy to play games and send GIFs that we’re surprised their tagline is “Where work happens.”) Slack is preferable for private book clubs—only people you invite or share the link with will be able to find the chat.

  1. Setting up Slack is easy—go to slack.com and click “Try Slack.”
  2. Click “My team isn’t using Slack yet.” Enter your email and follow the prompts to set up your new “workspace” (aka online book club.) Each “Project” can be the title of your book selection. 
  3. Click “Invite people” in the sidebar to add people by email, or to get a link directly to your group. Ta-da! You’re done. Now you just need to pick a time and date, and everyone can log into the chat from their computer, or even via the Slack app.

Now pick a book!

Once you’ve settled on a platform for your online book club, you just need to figure out what you’re reading! Lucky for you, Early Bird Books offers free ebooks each month, plus great deals on ebooks every day.

You can also check out our editors’ picks for book club books, or turn to Oprah’s book club for ideas. Happy reading!

Featured photo: Eea Ikeada / Unsplash 

Published on 25 Jan 2017

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