COVID-19 didn't affect how Bookamoso Book Club does their meet ups – this is the inspiring reason why

Bookamoso Book Club members.
Bookamoso Book Club members.
Bookamoso Book Club / DRUM

Bookamoso is an online-based book club that’s curated by founder Omphile Raleie. It’s always been an online book club so Covid-19 hasn’t had any effect on its functionality. DRUM spoke to Omphile about how Bookamoso navigates through social media.

When and how was Bookamoso started?

The book club was started in 2011/12. I had a physical book club back home in Bloemfontein. That ended with my relocation to Joburg, and so the virtual book club gradually started with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles. The website followed in 2016.

How many members do you currently have?

There’s a combined social media following of 10 000+ across all three social networks plus a website. What that means is I share my current reads and book news, including where to get your books (local book stores), book reviews, virtual book launches, book festivals and anything literary related happening in the industry.

I also cater to the busy individual who can come to my pages (Twitter, Insta, Facebook and the website) to check what books/virtual events are recommended or upcoming. They can then add these to their list of books to be bought/events to be attended.

We interact with one another, I follow other book clubs and other bloggers. I share what the other book clubs are up to under the hashtag #BookClubsOfSA or what I’m currently reading under #OmphileReads/#BookamosoReads. This has assisted a few people to find books to buy/book clubs in their area.

How do you delegate the books?

I choose a book based on my reading target for the year or if I’ve had pretty good previous-month read – books really find me.

How often do you meet, and do you have a specific format you follow for discussions?

Because the book club is an online community there’s no format of holding one another accountable. We have discussions based on my posts of current reads, or selections for the daily live readings I host.

How do you host now compared to before the pandemic?

I’ve never had any physical meetings even before the pandemic began. I used to visit other book clubs or book events.

What would you say makes this club unique?

With the lockdown I’ve had to do things differently, doing more than just normal posting to encourage reading. The daily Instagram Live readings at 5pm are unique in that I read everything I have in my collection and if you miss the reading, you get to watch it on YouTube or on IGTV. I plan to do recordings without an audience and load them onto YouTube to continue with encouraging people to read new books they wouldn’t normally read or buy.

What book are you currently reading?

For the live book readings, I’ve been reading mainly African literature – this includes short story collections, historical fiction, fiction and non-fiction books. In July I’m revisiting Angela Makholwa’s The 30th Candle – from the beginning of the month to 15 July – with a group of friends who love reading and had joined in on a live book reading of the book. Then from 16 July we’re reading Yewande Omotoso’s Bom Boy.

Who can people contact if they want to join your book club?

People are encouraged to like, follow and subscribe to the club on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for daily updates, author quotes and more. It’s Bookamoso Book Club on all socials and the website is bookamoso.co.za. They can email omphile@bookamoso.co.za for any information or business-related enquiries.

Are there any tips you can give to people who want to start their own book club?

Just start. Even if there are two members, hold each other accountable. Start with short stories if you think a longform book is too overwhelming.

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