Tips for starting your own online book club

Self-isolation does not mean you have to be alone. Forming a book club is a way of staying connected with family and friends as well as reaching out to those we do not know but share a love of reading.

Here are a few tips on how to get started on setting up an internet book club, writes Sue Wilkinson.

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Choosing a book

Nominate one person to choose a book each month. To make things easier, you can choose a book that most people will have in their own library. Alternatively, choose a new book, but allow plenty of time for delivery from one of the online retailers.

Accept that you cannot please everyone all the time, but this is a good way of reading authors and genres you are not familiar with. It can lead to a new favourite – for instance, I discovered a love for Booker Prize-winning Bernice Rubens. My book club read Yesterday in the Back Lane and I adored it.

Since then I have read the Elected Member (Booker winner in 1970) and the Waiting Game. Birds of Passage and Five-Year Sentence are waiting on my shelves.

Stimulate discussion

You will have to accept that your discussion points will be written. This may not suit everybody, but there is currently no way around it. You could perhaps all meet via Skype or another video call software, if everyone has the app.

We suggest four questions that will be circulated by the person in charge. Not everyone has to respond to every question.

Questions could cover:- Plot and its feasibility- Characterisation- Style- Tone (the writer’s attitude to the reader or the subject matter)

Appoint a convener

Someone will have to convene the group. This will involve:

- Having everyone’s email address (make sure that you have permission to hold the addresses from each person - there may be data protection issues here)- Identifying the book chooser- Circulating the questions- Receiving and editing the responses- Publishing the outcomes, perhaps in a group newsletter

Keep it fun

Always remember not to take things too seriously.

After your first meeting, identify the next book and the cycle begins again. Allow at least one month for each book choice.