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Book clubs have had a resurgence in popularity thanks to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon choosing their favorite selections to spotlight. However, you don’t need to be Oprah in order to start a book club of your own!

In recent years, especially, virtual events have been all the rage, including meetings for your local book club. While some certainly miss the in-person connection, these online venues have a distinct benefit in that there are no geographical limits to who can participate. But, with this opportunity comes a key question: how do you start a virtual book club?

Meet fellow book lovers.


Before you can begin to rival Oprah’s book club, you’ll have to connect with fellow readers who will share your interest in reading your book club’s selections. After all, can you really consider it a club if you’re the only one participating? Instead, look for online groups where you can connect with other bookworms. This might include literary groups across social media, connections made on bookish sites like Goodreads, and even your in-real-life friends who have a love for books and reading! As you connect with these individuals, you’ll naturally begin building relationships with new friends, many of whom may be interested in joining your online book club.

Find great books to read.


Once you have the basis of your new club—the readers—you’ll need to determine your first selections. Naturally, the books you choose will set the tone for your club over time. Consider browsing pre-existing picks, like Oprah’s book club list, to get an idea of some popular titles that are sure to be a good fit. You can also turn to social media to see what selections are trending or check resources like the New York Times best sellers list to find even more books of interest.

Determine how you’ll connect.


Like any virtual group, you’ll need to choose a virtual venue for your online book club. Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet offer a few popular options—video platforms allow for nearly seamless communication in real time, while text-based platforms or features allow for more accessible meetings. If you have readers across various timezones, would it be easier to have discussions that are less synchronized? Whether you’re discussing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer on a Zoom call or you’re exchanging Facebook comments about James McBride’s Deacon King Kong, there’s no universal right answer; it will depend on what works best for you and your club.

Keep things social.


While book club meetings can be fulfilling social events, you may also want to find ways for members to connect between each date. For instance, could your reading group exchange messages about a certain plot line while reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, even if the official discussion is still a few weeks off? When you have a great read at hand, it’s only natural to want to discuss it in the moment. These social opportunities beyond the conventional book club discussion allow for these asynchronous chats. Plus, you can refer to these conversations to help determine what you’ll talk about at the meeting itself!

Virtual book clubs are increasingly popular, with celebrities like Oprah leading the literary charge. Even so, there’s more to starting your own reading group than just throwing out a title and hopping on Zoom. Not only do you need to choose the right read, but you’ll have to find others to read with you, choose the right platform for discussions, and pick the perfect book to entice everyone involved. From chats along the way to more formal meetings, there are plenty of opportunities to discuss the great reads you come across, and your new book club is one such exciting way to interact more closely with the books you read.

Lucia Fowler