As we continue to stay home, it is important to maintain social connections and support positive mental stimulation. Reading groups and book clubs bring a social element to the solitary hobby of reading. With our libraries closed and borrowing limited to ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, it can be challenging to support a book group needing multiple copies. Until we reopen, we want to offer a few ideas on how to support a remote book club.
This article will cover reading materials and resources online. There are many platforms out there for connecting remotely, including Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom. We recommend exploring what works best for your book groups, and to especially take into consideration security and privacy concerns. For those curious about using Zoom for your book club, we are offering Intro to Zoom classes (registration required).
Always Available Titles
Even though our physical libraries are closed, WCCLS offers an array of ebooks and audiobooks that are always available for borrowing. To find the titles that are always available for the steps below for desktop access :
Refine the search results with the filters in the left column, including Audience and Subject
Not finding a title in our Overdrive collection, then you might seek a work that is in the public domain. In 2019, thanks to a quirk in copyright law, millions of titles became available and can be downloaded online for free. About 80 percent of all the books published from 1923 to 1964 are in the public domain. GoodReads offers a browsable list of a titles in public domain. You can access public domain titles on the following websites:
Standard Ebooks, provides access to user-friendly downloads for a variety of eReaders
The Hathi Trust, a partnership of academic and research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.
LitFinder provides access to full-text short stories, poetry and other literary works – requires library card and password to access
Long Read Articles
Long-form articles or longreads are a great alternative to books, allowing for lively conversations focused on a specific subject. Longreads allow for moving past headlines to delve deeper into a topic. Plus there is less pressure than a typical book club, since it’s easier to get through the material. Longreads club work best with the group identifying a shared interested or common lens, then finding appropriate articles. Here are a few options for finding long-form articles:
Longreads.com identifies thought-provoking, in-depth articles, including investigative reporting, interviews and profiles, essays and criticism.
The secret to having an engaging book club is to have on hand questions and author information to help guide the discussion. With your library card, you can access a bevy of resources that offer author biographies, book summaries and even discussion guides. Here are the key resources we use for leading discussions at our own Owl Book Group:
Gale Books and Authors provides book recommendations, reviews, and author bios – requires library card and password to access
Novelist Plus offers book descriptions, author bios and discussion guides for many of the titles – requires library card and password to access
If your book club is at that point of not knowing what to read next or you need assistance with any of the resources listed above, please reach out to us. Contact us via email or phone, and one of our librarians will follow up with you. We are here to help support your book clubs, even at a distance.
Jennifer has called Portland home since 1994. She has worked in a variety of library settings, including academic, corporate, archives and public libraries, and even a brief stint as the bookmobile driver. Jennifer enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest, going to the movies and solving puzzles.