With the Covid-19 pandemic have come quarantines and social distancing. It’s led to cabin fever and feeling socially isolated for many of us. How do we safely stay connected with our friends and family, especially during the colder months of the year? One way is to gather your friends and start a Zoom book club night! Here’s how to start a book club your friends will love.
1. Invite Your Friends
Make a list and invite your friends. Message some of your favorite choices, or, better yet, call them! What a great excuse to connect with your friends when you’re feeling lonely or bored.
If some of them don’t have the time right now or are already part of a book club, don’t be discouraged. Ask other friends. And, if you don’t think you can find enough people, ask your friends to invite a friend or two, or five!
2. Decide How Often Your Zoom Book Club Will Meet
A monthly or bi-weekly video conference call to talk about the book and spend time with your friends is probably one of the most common ways to get-together.
Depending on the book and your members’ preferences, you can meet after reading the entire book. Or, after reading a certain number of pages and meeting after reading a few chapters.
3. Select How to Communicate and Meet
How often will your book club members meet? Will you Zoom once a month? Every other week? What about reminders, nominating and voting for the next book to read?
Are all of your members already on Facebook? If they are, you can create a private Facebook group. It will allow you to share thoughts and ideas, and even set-up a poll so your members can vote for the next book.
Goodreads also has a similar area to create your own group and poll the your friends. Both sites have the ability to create an Event so your friends can easily look up and see when the next meeting is.
Or, if you don’t want to create an online group for communication, there’s always email. However, this may get really confusing if people start replying and having discussions. Important information can be easily lost, hard-to-find, or forgotten. It could also annoy members if they start receiving a lot of email messages throughout the day. So, if you can, finding an online location to create a private group is likely easier for everyone.
Sending email occasionally as a supplement to an online group can be really helpful to remind your friends about suggesting books to read, voting, and the next meeting in case they’re not logging into your private group very often.
Tip: When you post information about your next Zoom book club meeting, whether by creating an event or just a regular post, be sure to post the date, time (as well as the timezone if people in your group aren’t all local). And, specify what you’re meeting about. If you’re meeting after reading to the end of chapter 8, say that. If the plan is that all or most will have completed the book, mention that so people remember how far they need to read.
Zoom is super popular right now and a good way to get together while social distancing. But also notable, is Facebook Groups. While Facebook isn’t my favorite platform in general, they do have a video chat function for up to 8 people if you’re using that to communicate with your members already. There’s also Google Hangouts, which can accommodate up to 25 people on a video call.
4. Agree How to Choose Books to Read
Your Zoom book club members should give input about or choose how to decide what books you’ll be reading. Will members rotate choosing a book each month? Or, can anyone with an idea make a suggestion? Goodreads and Facebook groups both have the ability for members to vote.
Make sure to decide which book to read and announce it to the group at least a couple weeks before starting it. Your friends will need time to purchase or borrow a copy.
When announcing the next book, it would help to include a link to it where book club members can order a copy.
Tip: Include a list of past books that your book club has read in your private online group so new members can easily see what the group has read. It will help new members so they don’t accidentally nominate the same book again.
5. Remind Your Friends about the Zoom Book Club Meeting
Send a reminder to the group a few days before, and again on the day of, your video conference or meeting.
What to Include in the Reminder:
- Date of the meeting
- Time (including timezone if any of your friends live in a different timezone)
- Name of the book
- How far to read (the entire book, or a certain number of chapters?)
- Any apps or software they will need to download and/or sign-up for, such as Zoom. Including links to the app or software is even better!
- Suggest they bring a good beverage and maybe some snacks with them
- Consider recommending that they ask their partner to watch the kids or dogs during your book club meeting, even if you’re meeting through video conference from your homes. Interuptions can hinder your discussion and make it less fun for the friend who’s being interruped often by their family. (If you have busy moms in the group, alone time with their friends is good self care and gives them a break and time to relax. So, that can be an encouraging point to make.)
6. Prepare to Discuss the Book
Find out from your friends if anyone wants to lead the book discussion. Maybe take turns each month leading the discussion so the work doesn’t always fall on one person’s shoulders.
Unless you’re an insightful book guru with the ability to create thoughtful questions on the fly, you might want some ideas about what to ask or talk about. Look in the back of the book, some already have discussion guides for book clubs. Also, try googling “your book title” discussion guide.