Connecting During COVID: Tips to Start Your Own Online Book Club

With Canadians in self isolation, many people are finding themselves reading more than ever. I’ve been engrossed in Soap and Water & Common Sense by Dr. Bonnie Henry, the first pick for the #GreatBCBookClub, an online book club I’ve started with Shelagh Rogers from CBC. We’ve invited British Columbians to join us in reading the book, and we’ll be using online platforms to connect with fellow readers. Follow me at @LGJanetAustin and Shelagh at @RogersShelagh for our thoughts and join the discussion!

Interested in starting your own online book club? Here are some tips to get going:

Pick a book
– eBooks offer the benefit of an instant download from the comfort of your home. You can also download ebooks from many public libraries in British Columbia using your library card number. eBooks can also be purchased from retailers such as the Kindle Store, or Chapters Indigo.

Spread the word – invite friends, neighbours, family and coworkers to participate. Starting a designated group on a social media platform such as Facebook or Goodreads is an easy way to invite new members to join, share information and post virtual discussion schedules.

Choose a platform – when hosting a virtual meeting, consider using an online platform with video capabilities, like Zoom, Google Hangouts Chat, WhatsApp or Skype.

Select a host – having an official moderator will help to ensure the discussion flows well. Hosts can ask guided questions and discussion prompts and make sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute. Here’s a list of general book club questions to get started.

Prepare your favourite snack/beverage – Wine? Tea? Cookies? Despite not being in the same room, you can still share a libation and a bite to eat. You might even trade recipes!