How To Organize A Zoom Book Club If Reading Alone Just Isn't Doing It

by Caroline Burke
Heinrich Peters / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

After your fourth or fifth virtual hangout with friends, it might feel like you're running out of ways to social distance and have a good time. There are only so many trivia questions a single person can come up with, so it might be time to start your very own Zoom book club. All you need to do is decide on a book with your friends, make sure each of them knows how to use Zoom, and you'll be off to the races.

How To Choose A Book To Discuss On Zoom

There are a few ways to choose a book for your Zoom book club. One way is to open it up to a conversation, with members throwing out different titles they want to read, and see if your club can reach consensus that way. If you can't collectively think of a book to read for your Zoom book club, consider checking out mass book clubs like Oprah's Book Club or Belletrist, a book club started by Emma Roberts, for suggestions.

Here are some books you might consider for your Zoom book club, along with book club discussion guides for them:

Identify The Goal Of Your Zoom Book Club

Decide what the goal of your Zoom book club is before you actually dig in. Is it to just have some fun and chat literature with your friends over a glass of wine, or is it to get into the nitty gritty of the writer's craft on a sentence level? Things will definitely go smoother for your book club if you guys agree upon this from the beginning.

Set Deadlines For Your Zoom Book Club & Assign Book Leaders

Setting certain deadlines and parameters for your Zoom book club will make the actual meetings way more pleasant. That way, you can actually talk about the book itself, rather than spending the first 20 minutes figuring out how far everyone read, and how to avoid giving away spoilers.

Here are some structural questions to help you and your Zoom book club pals create guidelines:

  • How often do you want your book club to meet? (Weekly or monthly is normal, but there's nothing to stop you from chatting daily!)
  • How many pages can everyone comfortably read, between sessions?
  • How do you want each book club session to be guided (i.e., do you want to have a leader for each session, how long do you want each session to be, etc.)?

Here's a sample set of guidelines for a book club: everyone reads 100 pages a week, and meets up on a Zoom video call for an hour every Thursday. Leading up to that call, the weekly book club leader prepares a few questions to ask, which will get creative juices flowing. Throughout the Zoom meeting, the leader guides the conversation along, asking new questions when the conversation runs dry.

Zoom Book Club Leaders Come Up With Questions

In terms of what questions to ask, book leaders should probably align with the goal of your book club, as mentioned above. For example, if your goal is to focus on craft, you can ask a question like: what is the main conflict of the book? How is the author pushing it forward in these pages?

Or, if your goal is just to read something for enjoyment with your friends, you can ask more socially-driven questions, like: which character do you align with, personally?

Many books have pre-made book club discussion guides online; it's worth searching for one for your given book to see if you find any inspiration from those questions (like the discussion guides linked above). Consider checking out this list of book club discussion topics by Book Riot, if you're still not sure what to talk about during your Zoom meeting.

Get Familiar With Zoom Before Your Book Club Meetings

The most important aspect of your book club, besides the book itself, is the software that allows you to talk with your friends while social distancing: Zoom, or whatever other video software you plan on using.

Getting comfortable using Zoom will help your book club run smoothly; for that reason, you should meet with your friends on Zoom prior to your first official book club meeting, so that you can troubleshoot together and give one another advice about how to use the platform.