As with everything these days, the Silent Book Club has had to adapt to the immense changes to lifestyle in a post-COVID world. With social distancing as the new norm, and worldwide stay-at-home orders in place, book club meet-ups are not the same. But could they be even better?
We spoke to organizers of various Silent Book Club chapters to get the inside scoop on their experiences of adapting to the ‘New Normal’, and ensuring they get their regular book club fix with fellow members and friends. You’ll find a handful of chapters (no pun intended) here, but keep an eye out for the coming weeks, where you might just come across your local chapter.
(Psst: You can check where that is here.)
Hannah Johnson, who heads up the Marietta, Georgia chapter says the adjustment has been relatively easy, as getting the word out online has been a good way to keep everyone updated, and spread the word further than would normally be considered.
I feel like it’s a great opportunity because people have mixed feelings throughout social distancing. On one hand, there are those who are gagging to socialize with people or people looking to take up a new hobby. On the other hand some people may be feeling unmotivated/unfocused, so it does help people allot just that hour every other week to chat and read.
Perhaps something we can all relate to, whether we be members or no: “We all miss going out to our coffee shop on Friday nights, but we have to look at the silver lining that we can spread our access to people no matter where they live.”
image via sbc
Divya, who runs the South California chapter, reports that the group has moved to Zoom temporarily. They read for 30 minutes or so, then chat about their respective books for a further 30! Considering the usual Silent Book Club formula, it’s great to her that it can be continued online. Bonus: if you get a household member to bring you a glass of wine, it could almost be as normal.
image via observer
The move to virtual meetings hasn’t been detrimental to numbers either. Divya says that they average out at 8-12 members per meeting, having reached 14-20 IRL in the days pre-coronavirus.
Jessica runs the Lincoln, Nebraska chapter which has been active since 2017. A teacher herself, Jessica is no stranger to the ways of using online resources to suit the new normal. They chose to work with Zoom, like many others, which has been an easy and equitable way for everybody to join in and get their SBC fix. What they found difficult was trying to determine the best timing for all involved. Rather the sticking to the classic formula of a 30-minute gather/chat period, followed by an hour of reading, sandwiched by another 30 minute discussion, they elected to make the final period an hour.
We’ve got a handful of folks who come for the first portion and leave during the reading hour, and some who come in for the last hour to discuss what they’re reading. At our last meeting, I did a check-in to see what people thought of the format, and they all seem to like it! I have created a Google Slides presentation that I share using the “Share Screen” feature during the meeting with helpful information including how to “mute/unmute”, etc. I also play music through my computer during the reading hour. Anyone who would like that can leave the sound on on their computer.