My book club can’t meet in person because of coronavirus – this is how we’re meeting instead!

Photo: Supplied to DRUM
Photo: Supplied to DRUM

From the way we live our lives to the way we work to having possibly given up social activities we enjoy. One such activity, I personally enjoy, is book club.

I have been sharing my reading experiences for the past three years with the members of a book club I am a part of and it has become an integral part of my life.

Apart from the exciting routine of picking what we’re going to read next, picking the next Instagram worthy meeting spot was just the most exciting thing for us. Traveling between Pretoria and Joburg, breaking bread or brunching at boutique cafes. We all had something to look forward to.

The book club had scheduled to meet on the 14th of March but we postponed to the week after. We really regret this decision now. Little did we know that the coronavirus outbreak would result in a national lockdown.

Our WhatsApp group went quiet for days. I guess nobody wanted to bring it up as we were all anxious during these trying times, I guess. I never thought staying in would no longer be a choice but an order by the state.

While we all have a duty to keep others safe, Phetha [one of our members] texted in the group and suggested that we come up with an alternative, “Is there a plan B we should talk about since everybody is stressing social distance because of Covid-19 and many restaurants have closed?,” she asked.

Suggestions came pouring in and a virtual book club was one of them because meeting in person is not feasible and thanks to being connected, we’re able to be in one digital space at the same time.

I have put together a few tips to hosting a virtual book club or any other event during self-isolation.

1.       Create a designated WhatsApp group for all members to join.

2.       Use online platforms to select the books you want to read such as surveys or Google forms.

3.       Due to social-isolation, a trip to the bookstore seems like an extreme sport. Reading digital books instead of physical copies is an option.

4.       Video conferencing as a hangout spot. Many platforms offer group video chats including WhatsApp, Zoom, and House Party which is really fun.

5.       Don’t let this get you down and enjoy time with your friends (virtually) regardless!