How To Start a Book Club With Long-Distance Friends

If you and your long-distance friends love books, keep reading to discover the many ways to begin a book club despite the distance!

Book Culture Bookish Lifestyle
A blue train ticket with a silhouette of three friends reading a book in the middle. A pink plane graphic flies in from the top left, a gold compass is on the bottom right, and there are book stacks in the middle of the border. On the top right and bottom left are white clouds with black bird outlines.

So you want to start a book club with your best friend? You may both be extraordinarily bookish or wish to expand your overall knowledge. That’s great! A book club with friends is a fun way to share your hobbies or hold each other accountable towards a new goal. But maybe one thing stands in the way. You both live miles apart. Don’t fear! Starting a long-distance book club isn’t that difficult—- with a bit of faith and persistence, you and your best friend can still gush about books over calls, texts, emails, or even letters through the post!

The Basics

Communication is key! To sustain your book club, you and your friends must be honest with each other. Curate your TBRs together and ensure it’s filled with books you will all enjoy. Maybe it’s a mix of your favorite genres or completely stacked with books none of you would initially pull off a shelf but want to learn more about. Either way, both of you will need to enjoy the reading experience. Also, feel free to DNF a book! There truly is no shame in it.

A drawing of four friends sit together chatting in front of a background of open books. A tall leafy plant in a yellow vase sits beside them, next to a smaller potted plant.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / EMMA JAMRIN

Additionally, realistic scheduling is critical. Decide on a time to debrief that works equally well for both of you. Everyday life combined with tricky time zones might be the biggest struggle of a long-distance book club, but when everyone can agree on a time to text or call, or at least know when they’ll get a response to their latest bookish rant, everything will work smoothly. It doesn’t have to be a strict, end-all-be-all schedule; the most important thing is to have fun. Pleasure reading shouldn’t be stressful, so structure the club in a way that works for everyone.

Digital Buddy Reading Apps

In front of a bookshelf image, a drawing of two stamped letters, a hand texting on a phone, and another phone with an incoming call are collaged together.
IMAGE VIA BOOSTR / EMMA JAMRIN

Common bookish apps like Goodreads and The StoryGraph have buddy reading features that are invaluable to the long-distance book club game. On The StoryGraph, for example, they allow you to see at what point your friend is in the book, which helps avoid spoilers during your discussions. You can also post comments about the book to which your friend can reply.
Apps like these solve a piece of the communication and organization puzzle.

Annotated Commentary

Like with Goodreads or The StoryGraph, you can go about your book club digitally. But, if you and your friend love to annotate the pages of your books or simply need an excuse to feed your stationery addiction, you can send the chosen book back and forth through the mail. Each friend will read a designated amount of the book and make their own annotations on the plot points or characters, and can even hide little notes between the lines for their friend to catch up on when they receive the book in the mail. In turn, they’ll doodle in their own comments, and instead of running to the phone, your friends will get your commentary in real time and with artistic flair.

A collage of a book page, a stack of earth-toned books, two pens, a floral stamp, a stamp of greeting card with a mountain, and two pieces of brown tape, one in a gingham pattern.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / EMMA JAMRIN

Reminder, having fun is the most important thing to a book club! Call each other curled up in your book nooks with your favorite mug filled with your go-to reading drink paired with your favorite snacks. A book club should have relatively low expectations, but some structure is essential for sustainability. If you follow this advice and add the unique personal touches of your friend group, you are sure to have a gratifying pastime with your best friends!


Click here to stay up to date on book culture!

Click here to browse books for your next book club meeting!

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / EMMA JAMRIN