The Glass Hotel
Emily St. John Mandel
I absolutely loved Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven when it came out, and I have been waiting not-so-patiently for the release of her new work. I’m reading it right now and finding it compelling, eerie, atmospheric, and transportive!
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Use virtual book club as an opportunity to branch out into new genres! Haven’t tackled fantasy yet in your book club? We highly recommend Marlon James’s epic mix of adventure, myth, historical fiction, and fantasy. And at 640 pages, this novel, hailed as an African Game of Thrones, will transport you for hours.
The Bride Test
This is a fun, funny, and thoughtful romantic comedy that modernizes the classic romance trope of arranged marriage. Esme Tran is a mixed-race woman living in Ho Chi Minh City. A chance encounter in a hotel where she cleans leads to a summer in California to meet a potential husband. Khai Deep is a solitary and successful young man who will never fall in love: he believes that his autism means he doesn’t have feelings. It is deeply charming! Do they fall in love? I’ll never tell!!
Amanda Eyre Ward
How would you fare on a Mediterranean cruise with your dysfunctional family? That’s the question at the heart of this romp of a novel, which happens to be Read It Forward’s Virtual Book Club pick for April! Travel the world without leaving home and join us in our Facebook group to read along with our community.
We Ride Upon Sticks
Poet, professor, and novelist Quan Barry dives into her own adolescent years to bring us a novel chock full of female friendships and rivalries, 1980s pop culture, and witchcraft. Need I say more? Quan guest-starred on Read It Forward’s The Adaptables podcast, and you can basically hear my head exploding when she told us her new novel was about the 1989 Danvers, Massachusetts High School field hockey team tapping into their town’s history as the site of the 1692 Salem witch trials to give the team the extra oomph they need in their quest to reach the state finals.
Even though we’re all adjusting to being physically distant right now, it’s more important than ever to maintain our social connections. That’s why we think it’s the perfect time to form a virtual book club—or move your IRL club online! Not sure how to make that work with your circle? We’ve gathered some tips and tricks to help your virtual book club flourish.
1. Reach Out to Your Book Club
Reach out to your book club members to find out what everybody’s at-home set-up is. Does everybody have a computer with webcam functionality? Are they more comfortable using their phones instead? Who is your most tech-savvy member? Nominate them to be your IT guru and see what video conferencing app they like best.
The Read It Forward Book Club chats while we’re working from home with FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype, but there are many free tools available, like Google Hangouts and even Snapchat, so choose what works best for your group.
2. Set Your Calendar
Just like your regular book club, the most important thing is to find a time that works for your members. Once you do, send out a group email or text with a link to the meeting information. And because we’re type A like that, we like to send out a reminder message about 15 minutes before book club starts. Just enough time to grab a glass of wine or a snack and log on!
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3. Stick to Your Routines
If your book club has certain rituals: a moderator, structured discussion questions, or themed refreshments, there’s no need to deviate from what has worked for you in person. Shake up that Shaker Heights-tini to talk Little Fires Everywhere, and check out your local library or other online resources for book club kits, etc. to help guide the conversation.
4. But Be Flexible!
That being said, there may be a learning curve, both for the technology you’re using and for meeting and chatting in this new way. That’s OK! If the first meeting is filled with technical snafus or awkward silences, don’t call the whole thing off. It will get more seamless every time. And a great bonus to meeting virtually is that you aren’t limited by geography, so you can be flexible in your invitations and consider adding in prospective members from further afield than usual.
5. Pick a Book
No matter what kind of book club you’re hosting, this is always the most important part! Looking for some suggestions? Below are five diverting picks we recommend here at Read It Forward.
Image Credit: @walton_dana121 via Twenty20