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Keeping your reading group active while social distancing

Are you wondering how your reading group can continue to meet, even while you’re social distancing? With many people at home with family, flatmates or on their own, we know that books are so important to provide comfort, solace and escapism. Staying socially connected, and keeping your regular reading group meetings in your diary, is going to be very important in keeping up morale and supporting everyone’s mental health as we adjust to a new way of living.

Social distancing definitely doesn’t mean a pause to your reading group’s activity, and we’re here to help with suggestions of how you can keep going.

If you’re looking to join a reading group, there are two options on our website: connect with established groups near you, or virtual reading groups that meet in lots of different ways online.

How can your group go virtual?

There are different ways that you can have your reading group discussions. You can either arrange times for video chats, or have an online forum that meets regularly.

Group phone and video calls

All you need is Wi-Fi or an Internet connection to use any of the following methods of staying in touch:

  • Skype – online video/audio chat
  • Google Hangouts – online video/audio chat
  • Zoom – online video/audio chat. For three or more people, there is a limit of 40 minutes
  • Jitsi – online video/audio chat
  • Facebook messenger – set up a group message and either chat online or arrange a video call
  • WhatsApp video and phone call – set up a group message and either chat online or arrange a video call.

Forum discussions

Using online groups on websites such as Facebook and Goodreads means that members can share their thoughts as they have them more easily by posting online. You can still arrange a time for most of the discussion to take place, but the conversation can be more open. This can also work well for larger groups, or groups that are completely open for anyone to join.

  • Closed Facebook Group – make the group either public for anyone to join, or private so people have to request to join
  • Goodreads groups – easily create different discussion topics for each book you’re reading.

Choosing your books

With bookshops and libraries closed, you might need to be flexible in choosing your books. You can download e-books and audiobooks direct to your phone, tablet or e-reader, or if you prefer to have a print book, many independent bookshops are taking orders online and on the phone to post out. You can also borrow e-books and audiobooks from your local library, just check on their website how to do this. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet signed up for your local library, as many libraries are taking new members remotely.

Reaching new members

If you’re setting up an online group and are looking for people to join, register on Reading Groups for Everyone so other people can find you. As a registered group, you’ll be kept updated with the latest book news through our monthly newsletter, and will have access to exclusive publisher offers and opportunities. Make sure that you put as much information as you can on your profile (including how your discussion will take place, what kind of books you want to read etc.) so people can choose the right group for them.

Ask your friends, family and colleagues if they want to join, and you can also post on your social media asking if anyone else you know is interested. You never know what new connections you might make!


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