This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
It’s 2021! Time has not yet returned to its linear progression so I don’t really know what that means, but we are not meeting in person yet, so I can tell you for sure that it is time to bring together the best. online book clubs. All the books, all the conversations, without having to decide which literary themed mask you are going to wear. Everybody wins. Here are 15 of our favorite online book clubs to check out.
Epic-level insiders vote for a book to read quarterly, both completing a Read Harder 2021 prompt and the desire to talk about books with some of the best librarians in the world. Come chat with us! We think this is one of the best online book clubs to join!
Founded in 1991, Go On Girl! has been promoting books by various authors in the Black Diaspora for 30 years. The club chooses a book each month and localized chapters of 12 people chat – previously in person, and now via video chat. The organization also offers scholarships for black writers, a junior club (YA), and holds an awards ceremony each year.
Books & Boba is both a podcast and a book club dedicated to Asian and Asian American authors. They have read an impressive number of books so far including some of my favorites from the past two years. Each book has its own discussion podcast, with separate extras like book news and author interviews.
Sparkle Nation was founded in 2018 and aims to “directly challenge traditional academic notions of how to obtain, share and properly use knowledge by promoting community self-discipline and self-study”. That is, help us all to learn more and better, and in new ways. Who doesn’t like it?!? The link above will take you to their Instagram page – which is worth checking out to get a feel for what types of books are recommended – where they announced on February 4th that they were upgrading to a newsletter. The e-mail address is provided for registration.
WNYC and the New York Public Library have teamed up to create a virtual book club with a monthly livestream. NYPL members can access the ebook on the NYPL website, and anyone can access the livestream at the link above. The February book is Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour; previous picks include The Glass Hotel and The Nickel Boys.
Originally an in-person feminist book club founded by Sheree Milli, the Ladies Lit Squad is hosting a “21 in 21” reading challenge with prompts and discussions on Instagram. Articles include reviews, suggestions, and member conversations, and all recommended books are written by women or authors of color.
Shelterbox is an emergency relief organization that provides emergency tools and shelter to families who have been affected by disasters. In the UK they have a book club to shed more light on the stories of the people Shelterboxes has helped. For a monthly donation, members vote for one of three choices, which are then mailed to members (UK only). Six weeks later, readers attend scheduled online discussions, often with the authors. I love this idea, and I hope a US version of the club is in the works!
When the downright adorable Reese Witherspoon started her book club, I admit I thought it would be a lot of fluff, similar to my favorite movies of hers. Instead, she focused on raising the voices of women and authors of color, diversifying topics, supporting local bookstores, and expanding access to books. Plus, she has good taste in reading, if I say so myself. She recently launched a free book club app. To join his book club, all you need to do is download and register.
For something a little different, try the Silent Book Club. In The Before Times, I attended sessions in San Francisco quite regularly and enjoyed them tremendously. There is no assigned / suggested reading; members simply come together and read quietly, without phones or chatting, for an hour. Then people are invited to discuss what they are reading. During the pandemic, people meet through video chat and keep up to date in Facebook groups. In warmer climates, some groups (like my local Oakland chapter) plan to get together in a park to read.
There are roughly a million book clubs on Goodreads, and it can be difficult to sort through them to pick one (or five) that you could talk to. The GR Choice Awards Book Club is dedicated to reading the previous year’s winners, as well as nominees, “super series” and new bestsellers. The club is not affiliated with Goodreads, but it is well organized and good conversations take place in the discussion forums.
Oprah is the grande dame of celebrity book clubs, and there was a 0% chance I wouldn’t include her on my list. Her choices have covered everything, from Anna Karenina to Caste: The Origins of our Discontents. Her website has a printable list of the 86 books she has curated. Is there much more I can say about Ms. Oprah? Probably not.
Dr Eric Cervini is the author of The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America. He is also the founder of Quarantini, a 30-day March / April 2020 book club that looks a bit more like a class than a book club, offering daily homework and YouTube discussions on LGBTQ + history. in the USA. His Instagram (@ericcervini) continues this work with recommended reading and videos discussing the history of LGBTQ + people dating back to Mesopotamia (3000 BCE)! Given the periodic and systematic erasure of anyone who did not fit into a contemporary ideal of gender / sexual preference, her work is both fascinating and revealing.
The Literary Hub is a dangerous rabbit hole to venture into, especially if you enjoy a wide range of reading and talking. The Virtual Book Channel is a good place to start, offering hours of conversations with authors and academics about their various works.
QBC kicked off in March 2020 with a Zoom conversation between Arjun Basu, author of Waiting for the Man, and whoever showed up to said conversation. Since then, it has hosted a wide variety of author talks several times a month for $ 5 each.
The Rumpus Book Club is a little different from most of the ones listed here. It’s $ 35 / month, which is more expensive than free, but it also gets the Book of the Month, which won’t have been released yet. Considering the immense joy I get from getting reading copies as a Book Riot contributor, the price is well worth the price of being able to tell your friends you’ve read a book before it’s released. Plus, the monthly fee gives you access to a moderate chat with the author, some of whom have included Roxane Gay and Carmen Maria Machado. The Rumpus also has a poetry book club and offers a discount if you want to join both.
And there you have it: enough reading and discussion to get you through what is arguably the strangest second year in living memory! If you want to explore the best online book clubs even more, check out our list starting in early 2020.