Yes, it’s true, online book clubs are a thing. With the world increasingly looking online for entertainment – everything from online garden tours and days out to virtual choirs – it’s no surprise that book clubs too have had to adapt, bringing the shared joy of reading from the pubs and community centres to our own, separate, living rooms.
Books hold a unique power to absorb, distract and entertain. They are always there to rely on, to escape into – and to unite over.
And since lockdown began, their popularity has only increased. A survey from The Reading Agency has shown that one in three people in the UK is reading more since lockdown began.
While reading itself may be a solitary activity, there’s no denying the joy that comes from sharing our reactions to a good, or indeed bad, book. So with that in mind, here’s our pick of the best online book clubs for you to join. Happy reading, bookworms!
Reese’s book club
With over 1.5 million Instagram followers, the one and only Reese Witherspoon’s online book club provides monthly suggestions for manageable commitment, perfect for bookworms with a busy life. Each month, Reese picks a book she loves with a woman at the centre of it.
Ladies lit squad
Originally based in London, this all-female reading group has migrated to Instagram, where it has become an ‘isolation book club’. Sign up to the newsletter to receive the latest event information, as recommendations of books old and new.
The Guardian’s reading group
Put your reading suggestions to reader and publisher, Sam Jordison, and on the first Tuesday of each month, he will host an online discussion, explaining the chosen book’s history, answering questions and even setting up live chats with the author. The titles chosen are hugely varied – from Charles Dickens classics to the comic writing of Nina Stibbe.
Oprah’s book club
The American powerhouse is arguably the reigning queen of digital book clubs. Oprah has been uniting readers online since 1996, meaning there’s a brilliant back catalogue to scroll through!
Salon London’s Book Club LIVE is what it says on the tin. Sign up to enjoy a book club discussion with the author themselves in a live-streamed Q&A event. Future authors include Juno Dawson, Sir Bob Geldof and Rachel Joyce – and many more!
Billed as 'the queer and black book club', OKHA's events and discussions focus on literature, poetry and plays by Black, African, Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, Trans, Queer and Non-Binary writers. Whilst coronavirus means the group are not currently able to meet in person, their online presence is thriving, with book recommendations and live author Q&As.
Our shared shelf
Founded by Emma Watson, this Instagram community is focused on intersectional feminist literature. While Emma herself stepped back from the group earlier this year, the hashtag #oursharedshelf is going strong for like-minded and lively discussions.
If you’re not yet familiar with the online book lovers’ paradise that is Goodreads, where have you been? The site offers a huge range of book groups to join. Simply go to the home page, click on Best for Book Clubs, then Community, then Groups, and a whole new world awaits.
Good Housekeeping Book Room
Well, we couldn't not mention our very own book group, could we? Every month, we pick a book, we discuss it in our lively Facebook book group - and we even give away free copies of it, too. With constant book chat, recommendations and a friendly, inclusive community, if you like reading and GH, this is the group for you!
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