5 free virtual book clubs you can join today

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the way we do things. Museum tours are being done virtually, online shopping is booming, and some online gamers are being paid more than Olympic athletes.

One of the latest things to go virtual is book clubs, allowing readers to connect with like-minded people, share their opinions, and broaden their horizons.

And best of all you can join from wherever you normally read a book – on the lounge, in bed, anywhere that takes your fancy! Here are five virtual book clubs you can join for free today.

Better Read Than Dead Book Club

Named as Sydney’s favourite bookshop by Lonely Planet, Better Read Than Dead in Newtown’ has a mission to “nourish the neighbourhood's intellectual dynamics with a specially curated collection of books and regular author and community events”.

They host a range of specialist book clubs to serve a diverse range of literary tastes including The Jane Austen Book Club, Bad Women Book Club, and Inqueering Minds Book Club. Meetings are held monthly via Zoom - each group meets on a different date so best to check individually. It’s free to join but you’ll need to get your hands on that month’s chosen book.

Reese’s Book Club

It seems celebrities and influencers touch every corner of culture, and book clubs are no exception. Perhaps the most well-known celebrity book club, Reese’s Book Club is run by actor/author/producer and book lover, Reese Witherspoon. Each month, Reese chooses a book with a lead female character which community members discuss, dissect and critique.

To join, you’ll have to download the app (available on Google Play store or App store). Membership is free but you’ll need to have the book to participate. You can buy books directly through the app or try your luck at your local library. Once you’ve read that month’s book, you’re invited to review it and respond to others’ thoughts.

City of Sydney Library Online Book Club

Hosted by well-read librarians, The City of Sydney Library Book Club is a great free option if you want a bit more variety in your virtual reading group.

Rather than choosing a specific book, the librarians choose a topic or theme (and a suggested reading list) and it’s up to you to choose a book that fits with that theme. Past topics have included fantasy, young readers’ literature, and narratives in nature. This offers a bit more flexibility than your standard book club and can expose you to different titles and authors you might not have heard of.

It’s free to join, although you must be a member of The City of Sydney Library, and you must book in as spots are limited. Meetings are held on the last Thursday of the month via Zoom.

Shameless Podcast Book Club

What started as a podcast for “smart people who love dumb stuff”, the Shameless Podcast Book Club has grown into a community of over 27,000 members from Australia and beyond.

Each month a book is chosen and club members are invited to read and discuss via their Facebook page. At the end of the month, hosts Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews (who are authors themselves) discuss the book with the relevant author and share the community’s views on their podcast.

FW x Hachette Book Club

Curated by the Future Women team and hosted by Jamila Rizvi and Astrid Edwards, the FW x Hachette Book Club invites you to discuss and dissect the books that are making headlines and topping bestseller lists.

Each month the chosen book is discussed by the two hosts via a live stream on their Facebook page - participants can interact, ask questions and join the discussion via the comments. Joining is free as long as you have a Facebook account and a copy of the chosen book. They also have an accompanying podcast and Facebook Group to keep the discussion going.

Make sure you’re covered

Virtual book clubs are fun, convenient and safe — as long as you’ve got working devices to join them. So you’ll want to know you can get your smartphone, computer or tablet repaired or replaced if it’s accidentally lost or damaged. Portable valuables^, like phones, can be covered as part of GIO Classic Home & Contents or Contents Insurance policy as an optional extra you pay extra for.

Explore GIO Classic Contents Insurance

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance.

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

^Optional cover with a Classic Home and Contents or Contents insurance policy  for items that are normally carried with you away from home, like jewellery and cameras. They can be unspecified or specified. Unspecified items don't need to be mentioned on your certificate of insurance and will be covered up to a set limit (max $1,000 per item, and total up to your sum insured). Specified items are those which you'd like to be covered for a particular amount, rather than the set limit. Please refer to the PDS before buying this insurance.