Form an Online Book Club

Getting Started Virtually

Even before the Pandemic year of 2020, people were starting to wonder how they could fit a book club into their packed schedules.

At trBCQ we prefer real, in-person book club meetings, just as we prefer real books with real pages...BUT we also recognize that an online book club is a great alternative to meeting in-person if schedules don't allow, or, say, there is a global pandemic.  

To that end, we have spent some time researching, and creating trial book groups to figure out how to best form an online book club.

Start Here --

  • Identify 4-6 readers who you feel would be a good fit for a book club.  An important note is that it's good to have people that are NOT all in the same social group.  When it's a group that already gets together for things, the book club will often veer into a social club.  Social clubs are great, and book clubs *should* have a social aspect for sure, but if you want the book discussion to be the priority, it's better to find people that aren't deeply interconnected.  

  • Ask each one if they are interested in joining a virtual book club.  We suggest you do this one-on-one either via text, email, or phone call.  

  • During each invitation, discuss the book club rules.  These are the same (with modifications) for a virtual or in-person book group.  Note: as the founder of the club, you should read through the rules we have provided and decide which ones you would like to use for your reading group.  We suggest sticking with the basic ones outlined, but you can modify -- add, delete, change -- in whatever way fits you best!

  • Give the potential members a timeframe in which to make their decision.  You'll find some are eager and will say yes right away, while some may need to think on it.  Setting a date (please let me know by Friday) is a good way to keep things from stalling.  Ask them to give you either their phone number or email so you can communicate the information about the group.

  • Once you have the group formed (4 members is ideal, 3 can work to get started, and 6 should be maximum in a virtual setting), introduce everyone via email or text.  Your introduction email should include: a hello with a little about yourself including one of your favorite books; why you started the club; what you hope to gain; a synopsis of the rules; your first meeting date/time/platform; the book you will read in preparation for the meeting; and a request for them to reply-to-all with a the 1st and 3rd items on this list (a bit about themselves including a favorite book & what they hope to gain from joining this online book club).

  • Once all have responded (and if someone is being shy, reach out to them privately on the side and encourage them to join the group intro chat!), it's time to decide on the virtual platform you will use for the meetings. In the right-hand and left-hand columns on this page, you will find our two recommended virtual book club platforms based on our research and experience.  Read through both options to see which you prefer.  You can share the link to this page with your online book club so they can understand the choices along with you!

Classic Book Club Books

If this is your first EVER book club, you want to pick a title that will spark a rousing conversation.  It keeps the members coming back! (That's not say that a terrible book can't fuel a fantastic discussion -- terrible books sometimes make the best discussions!) Here are a few tried-and-true book club favorites for you to consider.

For more great choices, pop over to our trBCQ FaceBook Page and LIKE us to follow along with our #trBCQThumbsUpThumbsDownList!

Finished up with this page?  Return to our home page to continue on your book club journey.  Or, jump to our BEST OF trBCQ list!

Platform 2:

Background: Queenie D wanted to trial run a virtual book club where members met once a month at a designated time via a face chat.  The platforms tried include: Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and FaceTime.  Zoom and Google Meet are ABSOLUTELY the most user-friendly!

Good choice for groups who want face-to-face interaction, and can agree on a specific time to meet virtually. 

For a face-on-screen platform to work, all members MUST agree on the app you will use.  We suggest Zoom or Google Meet as they are very user-friendly.  

(1) Someone in the group will be the HOST of the the meeting.  This means they will send out the information with the link to join.

(2) All members will adhere to a basic set of behavior guidelines so that everyone feels their voice is heard.  It is VERY easy to get off track, talk over each other, not give the quieter people a chance to chime in, etc.  In an online setting it is even easier for these things to happen.  We suggest something like this:

(3) The first 10 minutes(ish) are for social chit-chat.  Let everyone say hello, catch up on anything they'd like to share, etc.  It may seem trivial, but it's during this time members get to know each other which will make you a stronger book group over time.

(4) Once the discussion is ready to begin, the person who chose the book will pose a question.  The group can decide to either go around each giving an answer one at a time, letting the discussion evolve from there, or the question can be posed and anyone who wants to answer can jump in.  We suggest the first way when you are a new group starting out.  This way everyone has a chance to participate and discover their individual book club persona.  

The questions can & should go on as long as the group is enjoying discussing.  Here are general book club questions for discussion if you need a jumping off point.

(5) As discussion wraps up, it's time to share the next book choice, and pick the next meeting date.  Two ways to decide who chooses the next book are first, to create a randomly ordered list of the members and stick to it, or, second, at the end of each meeting, decide who will choose the next book.  We suggest the first option as it's just easier to get into a rhythm if people know when their turn is coming up.  We've had members (in past in-person book clubs) count forward to their month and figure out what books would be released around that time so they could pick something brand new!

If you need help with learning how to install & use the above apps, you can contact us anytime.  The focus of this section has been to explain how to prepare for and run a club of this kind.

PLUS, Queenie D will personally join in and help your group get up-and-running.  This is a no-charge opportunity for you! Click on the link below to get in touch!

Email Queenie D