Go Virtual with Your Book Club

Find Connection During Social Distancing

By now you've been inundated with suggestions for occupying your time as you practice social distancing. We have another one for you: Participate in a virtual book club.

A virtual book club is a worthwhile way to connect during social distancing. For one, you will reap the advantages of reading, which are numerous. As outlined in our recent post, books are helpful for escape, comfort, creativity, and much more. A virtual book club is also an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and family, which is crucial as lockdowns proceed across the country.

While book club meetings are typically held in person, a teleconference is a strong substitution — certainly much better than no book club meeting at all. Don't cancel your monthly gathering. If you are not in a book club, start one virtually right now, when conversing with each other is so important.

SDHC not only recommends virtual book clubs, but also provides resources to help make them happen.

Use Book Club to Go for Virtual Book Club

While we have altered the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing our Book Club to Go program, which, under normal circumstances, provides books for your club and an optional discussion leader for just $50.

Now, to accommodate your virtual book club, you can check out any book from our Lending Library, including the 2020 One Book South Dakota, for the reduced fee of $25 to cover postage. We will mail a box of books you can distribute to your members. We also have scholars who have generously agreed to facilitate virtual discussions (see list below).

If you are starting from scratch, our general tips will help you assemble your group. Then, you can refer back to this post for instructions on creating a virtual discussion. Also, whether you are a book club veteran or a newbie, this post will help you select a good book.

Now, the question: How can you host a virtual book club meeting?


Phone

Perhaps the quickest, easiest, and cheapest (and least reliant on internet connection), a cell phone conference call is an excellent audio-only method. Depending on your carrier and plan, you might have a limit on how many people you can conference in at once, so check with your carrier before proceeding. Conference calls on both iPhone and Android are straightforward.

iPhone & Android: Conference Calling

  1. Call one of your members.
  2. Once connected, look at your phone screen, find and press the "add call" button (on Android this may be represented simply by the Android icon and a plus sign).
  3. Select another person from your contact list and call them.
  4. Once connected, look at your screen again, find and press the "merge calls" button.
  5. You should be connected to both people. Repeat this process until all of your members are connected.


Video 

Video provides a more personal experience. However, a stable internet connection is required and you may need to pay a subscription fee, depending on the size of your group.

Zoom

Zoom is extremely popular, as callers can participate with audio-only or audio and video. You need a computer to start the meeting, but participants can hop on the call with a phone or computer. Zoom is compatible with any phone or computer.

If your club meeting is less than 40 minutes long, you can get away with Zoom's free plan; to host longer meetings, a $14.99 per month subscription is necessary (not bad, if split among members). Either option allows up to 100 participants. The time limit on the free plan applies only to groups; if you have a book club of two, you can talk as long as you want via Zoom.

Zoom provides helpful instructions to walk you through the process. If you choose this option, elect one of your members to sign up and follow directives.

FaceTime

iPhone users have the additional option of FaceTime. Here are instructions from Apple on how to start a group FaceTime call:

  1. In FaceTime, tap + at the top right.
  2. Type the names or numbers of the people you want to call in the entry field at the top. You can also tap + to open Contacts and add people from there.
  3. Tap Video to make a video call or tap Audio to make a FaceTime audio call.

The above options, both user-friendly and inexpensive, should accommodate your virtual book club; however, you can research myriad other options such as Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.


Find a Book

You can find a book either on your own or take advantage of the Book Club to Go program. The best book club books have a unique perspective. Such options abound in the SDHC Lending Library. You can explore anything from the Quran to South Dakota One Room Country Schools. A book doesn't need to be contentious to be worth discussing, but a new world view or perspective adds more possibilities. If your group has similar political or social views, don't pick a book whose philosophy everyone will agree with; reach out to explore new ideas

If you would like a scholar to help lead your virtual discussion, the following are available:

  • Kiera Ball
  • Molly Barari
  • Lawrence Diggs
  • Barbara Johnson
  • Jeanie Kirkpatrick
  • Coleen Liebsch
  • Kate Meadows
  • Colin Mustful
  • Laura Hovey Neubert
  • Jean Patrick
  • James Sullivan
  • Martha Watson

Visit our Book Club to Go page to choose from the SDHC Lending Library, where we'll provide books from our lending library for your entire group for just $25. Fill out the form as usual on the Book Club to Go Page and, if you'd like a scholar to lead your discussion, select one of the above. Please facilitate the technical aspects of the discussion with your chosen scholar.

More Resources

Because reading is increasingly important in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are making a concerted effort to offer as many books as we can for the quarantined and socially isolated. Click below to follow our Facebook page, which features daily book giveaways and other resources under the hashtag #sdhcquarantainment.