In these days of social distancing and staying in our own homes as much as possible, the idea of a reading group meeting either in someone’s house or in public is one that won’t be possible for a while. We’re obviously sad about that as we know how brilliant books are for sparking conversations. They allow us to engage with topics that we may not encounter in our daily lives and, of course, there’s the important impact reading for pleasure can have on our well being and mental health.

In Warwickshire, we have a very popular and well-used Reading Group Collection which, at the moment, is temporarily suspended (but will be back in the future). Unsurprisingly, it relies on physical books getting into readers’ hands who then meet up and have their discussions face to face. Currently, neither of those things are happening.

However, all is not lost!

In today’s #LibrariesFromHome post, we have some ideas for you to carry on your reading conversations, either in your groups or with us through our online channels.

How do I find books to read at the moment?

As you’ll know, our physical library buildings are closed until further notice (we’ll keep you updated on our website on any news about that).

Instead, you can use our BorrowBox collection of eBooks and eAudio titles to keep your reading discussions going. Our previous #LibrariesAtHome blog has lots of detail about how to access BorrowBox if you’re just starting out. It is important to note that you will need to use your own library card to access BorrowBox (if you’re a member of a reading group, your Reading Group library card number won’t work). If you’re not already a Warwickshire Libraries member, find out how to join here.

You can browse the collection or search for specific titles. You’ll notice that we have a collection of titles called ‘Listen/Read Now – No Waiting’. These are titles that are always available and allow lots of you to read the same book at the same time. This make them perfect for reading groups so we hope you’ll find something there to enjoy. Some titles are available in both eBook and eAudio format, while others are in one or the other. The selections of these titles do change periodically so if there’s one that your group likes the look of, make sure you download it.

If you need any help at all, you can email us at or we have two videos available for you – one for getting started which you can view here and a second with tips and tricks for making the most of our BorrowBox collection, available to view here.

Sharing Books at Home

Do you live with a book lover? If so, then now is the perfect time to share your love of books and reading with each other! Though it might take a bit of time if you’ve only got one copy, you can each read the same book and discuss what you made of it. Get reading, make a brew/pour a glass and get book chatting!

Are your neighbours book lovers? If so, why not start a ‘Back Garden Book Club’ as, fingers crossed, the weather is starting to get brighter. Obviously make sure you observe social distancing guidelines but have a book chat over the garden fence!

Sharing Books Online

If you already belong to a book group, chances are your members are now #StayingAtHome and face to face discussions just aren’t possible. Here’s where technology can come in handy.

We know that not everyone has access to devices or confidence in using various apps and technologies and many will not be members of social media platforms, but here are a few suggestions to carry on your reading group discussions – some that can continue your conversations amongst your group, others that encourage you to engage with us online to share your reading.

a) Using group chat apps such as What’s App, FaceTime,Zoom or Skype

We’ve already heard from some reading groups that they’ve been using the above to carry on regular book chats from their own homes. While this does rely on Wi-Fi and access to devices, for smaller groups such chats can be a welcome addition to the day.

b) Social Media

  • Facebook: you could create your own private group page on Facebook and invite your members to post their thoughts about what they’re reading there. Alternatively, why not join our ‘Warwickshire Libraries Reading Challenge’ page. You’ll find details of the original Challenges in this blog and you can either make a start and find books for each of the 25 challenges we’ve already set or post about what you’re currently reading. Let us know what you think about some of the books we’ve already featured on there too by joining in our discussions.
  • Twitter: we love to see what people are reading at home so tweet us (@warkslibraries) with your review and a photo of the book. We’ll share your posts and let you know if we’ve read it too. We’ve also launched #LunchTimeLibraryChat – between 12.30 and 1.30 each weekday, we’ll be ready and waiting to chat on Twitter with you about all things book related. Use the hashtag and tag us so we see your posts. You can also follow other reading related hashtags (see below) and if you’re feeling brave, go live on your personal Twitter (or Facebook) and share your reviews.

#BooksConnectUs #WarksRC #LibrariesFromHome #VirtualReadingGroup #ReadingWell #AmReading #BookLovers #GreatReads #BookShelfie

  • Instagram: we’re also on Instagram (@warwickshire_libraries) where we’ll be sharing lots of lovely pictures of our favourite reads available through BorrowBox, throwbacks to books we’ve loved in the past and sharing what we’re reading now. Why not give us a follow?
  • Email: if you and your group members are on email, why not share your thoughts that way? Yes, it will take a bit longer but you could start a shared document and each add your thoughts as the email goes round.

How do we have a book discussion if we haven’t read the same book?

If you choose one of our ‘Listen/Read Now titles’ on BorrowBox that we mentioned above, you can all read the same book. Picking one of these titles lets your reading group members download the same title as either an eBook or on eAudio, read or listen to it and then your discussions can take place using some of the methods outlined above (or you may have developed your own ways of sharing your thoughts).

Anyway, who said that a reading group all have to read the same book? Yes, that’s usually what happens but these aren’t usual times, so we are also going to have to think outside the box to keep your reading group discussions going. If the ‘Listen/Read Now’ titles don’t appeal, why not try one of these ideas instead:

  • Your TBR (‘To Be Read’ pile) – now is the perfect opportunity to read any book you’ve bought in the past and thought “I must get round to reading that someday”. Share what titles make up your TBR with your group (or with us!)
  • Genres – pick one genre and share the different titles you’ve all chosen.
  • Author – if you can access different books by the same author, have a discussion around that author.
  • Books in translation/Prize winners/Books by People of Colour or LGBTQ+ authors. There are many great websites to find a diverse range of books. We particularly love ‘LoveReading’ and ‘WeNeedDiverseBooks’ (though the latter site is American) but there are loads of great websites out there – let us know any favourites you have in the comments section.

Books for the future

This is also a perfect time to explore our Reading Group Collection and make a list of the titles that your group will read in the future when we are back up and running. We’ve recently added a whole heap of new titles so there are lots of things to discover.

The Reading Agency have also put together some ideas for Reading Groups here and if you haven’t already discovered their ‘Reading Groups‘ pages, now is a great time to have an explore.

If you have any questions about Reading Groups, if you’re one of our members already or if you would like to know more, do get in touch.

Our digital library services remain available 24/7 and there are a wealth of eResources. There are newspapers and magazines available digitally alongside a number of reference resources on our ‘Information and Learning‘ page. We’ve also added a ‘Home Learning’ resource page to help if you’re home schooling.

We hope that’s given you some ideas to keep sharing your reading discussions either with each other or with us. We love to hear what is being read in Warwickshire so please do share your reviews and thoughts.

Take care, keep safe and happy reading!