You’ve found our guide on how to do a virtual book club.
Virtual book clubs are online get-togethers for workers who love to read. Virtual book club ideas include online book discussions, fun book club activities, and games related to the reading list. The purpose of these clubs is to connect remote workers with common interests in books and reading. These activities are also called online book clubs, remote book clubs, and Zoom book clubs.
These clubs work great as virtual team building activities for large groups and virtual team stress relief ideas. During your virtual book club, consider reading books from our lists of business books by Black authors, teamwork books, and workplace wellness books.
This list includes:
- how does a virtual book club work
- how to start a virtual book club
- how to run a virtual book club
- virtual book club games
- virtual book club activities
Here we go!
How does a virtual book club work?
Virtual book clubs work similarly to in-person book clubs. A group of readers chooses a title to read and then discusses the book. With a virtual book club, members can set up a dedicated Slack channel to update each other on plans. The club uses video platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams as an online coffee shop to meet up for schedule planning, check-ins, and book discussions.
How to start a virtual book club
Starting a virtual book club is as easy as sending an email announcing the first meeting. You can set a deadline for members to sign up, with email reminders of the looming date to ensure potential members factor the club into their schedules.
Your email should include:
- the guidelines for the book club
- a description of the types of books included in the reading list
- the timelines for completing the reading
- a preliminary schedule for meetings and activities
Flexibility with the initial book club plans will allow you to make changes to accommodate member needs.
As with other clubs, you may find that a virtual book club includes members with diverse reading interests. To ensure every member enjoys what they read, you can propose rotating genres, such as a romance book to start, a true crime book next, and a sci-fi book afterward. Having an array of genres to read will make it easier for readers of various tastes to interact with one another. This approach will also allow members to feel more represented by the books chosen rather than covering similar stories every month.
Because joining a book club mid-read may be difficult, new members should sign up for the next book in the cycle once a club begins. Having new members start at the beginning of a book will help keep the whole group on a similar schedule for each reading period. You can also ensure the club stays updated by choosing titles in advance. An initial meeting in which club members choose titles covering a few months or even a full year is a great head start. Then, the club leader gets a great lead-in for choosing activities and games, while members can plan their reading time for future discussions.
How to run a virtual book club
1. Set a Schedule
Running a virtual book club takes a bit of scheduling skill since you will be coordinating a calendar that affects multiple members. Once you have a member list, you can decide on a date for your first discussion. Because members read at different rates, be sure to allow plenty of time to finish the book in question. This timeline may vary depending on the length of the books chosen. Aiming for monthly meetings should give members plenty of time to read. If challenges prevent readers from completing the book by the designated meeting time, then you can push the session out by a week or two. Once you have added a book club meeting to the calendar and invited all members, any changes made to the scheduled item should also automatically update members’ calendars. This calendar feature makes simple work of notifying the club simultaneously.
2. Choose a Title
To choose the titles for their virtual book club, members can propose a title that might interest the group. Because reader preferences will likely vary, aiming for books that can satisfy a range of tastes may mean rotating the types of books chosen. For example, a recent bestseller that has received rave reviews can make an intriguing option for fiction lovers. Revisiting older titles, such as books from high school and college reading lists, allows members to experience a work they love all over again. If nonfiction works are on the reading list, then choosing well-known figures for a biographical read can serve as an educational book club experience.
3. Discuss the Book
With a title chosen and a meeting date set, the club can get to work reading their book. Members may need to purchase a copy of the title or check one out of the library. To make locating the book as simple as possible, include links in club emails that lead to both e-book and paperback versions. The easiest source to include is Amazon. Though, if you find the chosen title on sale at another location, be sure to include that information in the email as well.
To facilitate the discussion when the meeting day arrives, begin with some prewritten questions for members to chat about.
Some suggestions for discussion questions are:
- What did you think about the story?
- How did you find the writing?
- In what ways did you relate to the main character?
- In what ways did you find the main character off-putting?
- What social impact will this book have on the groups included in the text?
- What would you do if you were in a similar situation to the main character?
- What do you know about the time period or location where the story took place?
- Does the level of historical detail included in the book help make the story more realistic or hurt it by cluttering it?
- Did you learn anything from reading this book that you can apply to your life?
- If you had a chance to speak with the author, what questions would you ask them about how they came to write this book?
In addition to these questions, you can often find book club discussion points at the back of the books you read. These questions bring up subjects the author or publisher thinks are important to discuss. A handy guide in the book will give you a starting point for your discussions and allow the club to engage in a solid analysis.
Virtual book club games
To make their online events more interactive, virtual book clubs can include games and activities in their roster. These activities can be strictly for entertainment, or they can be educational to help bring the books into clearer focus.
1. Reading Races
Reading races can add friendly competition to a virtual book club. Members can choose a number of pages to read by a designated time, for example, 50 pages per week. The club leader can prompt members about their progress each week with an email check-in. Offering small prizes like bookmarks or bookstore gift cards for the winners will keep them reading right along!
2. Book Trivia
The book club leader can research trivia about the book ahead of the discussion. Facts about the author’s background, details about the story or the characters, and interesting tidbits about the creation of the story are all rich topics to look into. Readers can also take up the assignment and research one or two items to contribute to the chat. This process allows the whole club to learn more about what they have read.
3. Dream Casting
For avid readers, imagining a dream cast of actors to star in the movie version of a book is part of the reading process. As a fun reading club game, have each reader write up their choices for the roles of each character. You can suggest this game before the reading begins to allow members to visualize while they read. Ambitious members can assemble a slideshow featuring photos of their choices to screen share during the discussion. For the cinematic minds in the club, choosing a director to helm the production is a fun bonus.
4. Create Playlists
Authors often share the playlist they listened to while writing a book. A book club can put its own twist on this phenomenon by creating its own reading playlist for the book. This list can contain songs representing certain story elements or symphonic pieces and soundtrack tunes that make great reading background music. Sharing a rundown of music the book inspired will give other members a chance to show off their imaginative powers.
5. Rewrite the Story
Not every book will be a hit with the book club crowd. In cases where the story went off the rails, club members can take turns rewriting the story to be more to their liking. Changing the main character or secondary characters, switching the plot’s direction, and adding details missing from the page are all valid options for a rewrite.
If the story was a crowd-pleaser, then the club can also take a swing at proposing a sequel. Members can suggest what might have happened to the characters after the last page, catching up with their lives somewhere in the future. This sort of exercise is a great imagination stretcher. Readers who loved the book will have a reason to keep thinking about what they read.
Virtual book club activities
1. Character Cosplay
Devoted readers might love the chance to dress as their favorite characters from the books they read for the club. You can suggest simple costumes using items the members already have at home for contemporary stories or recommend inexpensive discount store accessories for historical works. Some club members may already have a cosplay wardrobe to tap into, making it easy to create a costume. For those members who appear in full garb during your virtual discussion, allow a moment or two to explain how they arrived at their costume choices. This activity may help bring the story to life in a more visceral way for other readers in the club.
To capture the memorable ensembles, create a hashtag for your book club and encourage members to share photos in their outfits. You can have an instant photo album for the workplace to check out.
2. Read a Favorite Passage
The club leader can challenge readers to watch for their favorite passages. Whether a vivid scene, a memorable quote, or an insightful thought, readers can take note of sections that capture their attention while they read. During the book discussion, each member can share their chosen passage. This activity gives the club insight into what other members found significant as they read.
A simple activity like watching for key passages will make club members more attentive as they read. While members search for notable sections to share, they will also read every page more carefully than they might otherwise.
3. Themed Menus
Story-themed menus will turn your book club discussions into a literature-themed dinner party! For fiction clubs, recommend a simple menu that club members can create before the discussion to enjoy during the meeting. You can include both store-bought items and homemade dishes to ensure all members feel comfortable participating.
Planning food will mean prep work for both the club leader and the members. Be sure to send out menu suggestions with the book chosen for the month to give the club as much notice as possible.
4. Bookish Beverages
The right beverages can set a relaxed tone for your virtual book club while capturing the vibe of the chosen book. Each member gets to play amateur mixologist by creating cocktails and mocktails. Choices for the drink menu may not be obvious. However, some creativity can help you understand the story’s period, the characters’ interests, or the figures on the pages. You can either offer drink suggestions or let club members come up with their own concoctions to get into the spirit of the occasion.
For some fun book-themed beverage ideas, check out Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist.
5. Watch the Movie
If there is a movie version of the book, then you can schedule a second meeting for a film viewing. This activity will invite a new discussion about the movie’s merits versus the book and vice versa. To keep the schedule organized, be sure to schedule the film viewing after the book discussion. Readers can focus on the book while reading, then shift to enjoying the movie version while watching.
Some streaming services offer a watch party feature that lets remote viewers share the film experience simultaneously. If this feature is unavailable, then you can screen share to let the club watch together.
6. Deeper Dive
Learning more about the author or the details covered in the book can help bring the story to life. For curious members, researching and sharing background information on what they have read will help clarify confusing aspects of the book. If the book is a biography or historical work, then digging into the period and the figures can add new layers to actual events. The author may have included as much information as they could find, but new details revealed by internet sleuthing are a welcome addition to the reading experience.
Virtual book clubs allow remote workers to share their passion for reading. Whether the titles are light and entertaining or deep and educational, having a group of like-minded readers to share the experience makes reading more special. Remote or hybrid teams looking for activities to share will find online book clubs help bridge the gap, no matter the distance.