13 Social Book Clubs & Initiatives To Join Now

If you’re keen to reignite your love of reading, online book clubs are the ideal place to look for recommendations and ready-made communities. Run by celebrities, bloggers and literary critics alike, they’re an easy way to discover new novels, memoirs and non-fiction hits, as well as sharing thoughts and reviews. Here are 11 of the best, plus two great new book initiatives to get involved with…

Readr

Readr is a new book subscription service that aims to help make reading a habit. Founded by a duo that came to regular reading later in life, the team carefully selects a book each month, which arrives through subscribers’ letterboxes during the first week of the month. Not a fast reader? No problem – you can skip a month with no charge. Generally, Readr champions the best of contemporary fiction but occasionally throw it back and revive a classic so members get the opportunity to experience a wide range of stories.

Recent reads: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami; The Mothers by Brit Bennett; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Follow: @Readr_Books

Chapter Chat

Chapter Chat was started by two sisters and now comprises a group of like-minded individuals who regularly meet to discuss books and beyond. For the foreseeable, the group is hosting its discussions on Zoom while it navigates the pandemic, but the hope is to organise more IRL events in the near future. This month, the pair appeared on the new Sky Arts Book Club Live show, hosted by Andi Oliver and Elizabeth Day, which is well worth a watch in its own right.

Recent reads: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley; Funny Weather by Olivia Laing; Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Follow: @ChapterChatBookClub

Black Girls Book Club

Founded by best friends Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie A Carter almost four years ago, Black Girls Book Club now has over 18,000 followers on Twitter – and counting.  Although its live brunches – and literary festivals – are on hold for now, it’s well worth a follow for excellent book recommendations. Look out for the pair’s forthcoming debut book, Grown: A Black Girls’ Guide To Growing-Up & Showing-Out, which is set for a summer 2021 release.

Recent reads: Dear Justyce by Nic Stone; Slay by Brittney Morris; Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Follow: @BG_Bookclub

The Hyphen – Book Club

The Hyphen – Book Club launched in March. Set up by writer and podcaster Emma Gannon – whose own debut novel Olive came out this summer – the book club has read loads of great books together so far and already built up an impressive community. Discussions take place at the end of each month and book recommendations are made constantly throughout the feed. 

Recent reads: I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite; Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny; On Being 40(ish) edited by Lindsey Mead

Follow: @TheHyphenBookClub

Ladies Lit Squad

This all-female collective of book lovers from the world of fashion, art and media are on a mission to make reading cool again. In normal circumstances, Ladies Lit Club also holds real-life member meet-ups at the likes of the Curtain Hotel and The Allbright, alongside its fast-growing Instagram account. For those who can’t be there, it’s well worth checking out for some brilliant all-female literature recommendations (we’ve got to give founder Sheree Milli some serious props for re-introducing classic 80s bodice-rippers to a new generation of women).

Recent reads: Self Care by Leigh Stein; Wonderland by Juno Dawson; Hunger by Roxane Gay

Follow: @LadiesLitSquad

Our Shared Shelf

An Instagram book club from another famous Emma (this time actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson), Our Shared Shelf was launched in 2016 as a place to encourage and inspire women to share their intersectional feminist wisdom by discussing a new book each month, alongside lively debate, passionate conversation, intellectual curiosity and involvement from the authors themselves. Emma might have wrapped up the initiative in January, but there’s plenty of inspiration throughout the grid, and Emma still shares book recommendations and encourages debate on her personal account (@EmmaWatson) using the hashtag #OurSharedSpace.

Recent reads: Beloved by Toni Morrison; Whose Story Is This? by Rebecca Solnit; Butterfly by Yusra Mardini

Follow: @OurSharedShelf

Between Two Books

Florence Welch, better known as superstar singer Florence + The Machine, started this group on Facebook back in 2012, but it has since made its way to Instagram. Every few weeks a new book is added to the pile, chosen by Welch or one of her famous friends from the music world (such as the Maccabees), and anyone who wants to join in the big read – and discussion after – can do so.

Recent reads: How Much Of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang; Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier; On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Follow: @BetweenTwoBooks

Poppy Loves Book Club

Created by one of the UK’s top influencers, Poppy Loves London, this is an online and local book club in one (if you live in the capital). The lifestyle blogger chooses a new book each month for fans across the world to read, then invites those within reach to a real-life meet up to discuss it along with the author. Online – and during lockdown – members are encouraged to come together on Instagram and Facebook to share their views.

Recent reads: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn; The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton; An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Follow: @PoppyLovesBookClub

Belletrist

Founded by actress Emma Roberts, along with her friend Karah Preiss, Belletrist encourages members to ‘discover, read and celebrate a new book every month’, as chosen by the duo. Titles range from light and entertaining to sophisticated literature, and the club also has a blog featuring its own range of merchandise and interviews with various authors.

Recent reads: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo; Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok; The Dragons, The Giant, The Women by Wayétu Moore

Follow: @Belletrist

Rebel Book Club

With a focus on non-fiction reads, Rebel Book Club began in Bali in 2015 and expanded to London and Barcelona soon after. Now a global community, each month the team recommends thought-provoking non-fiction reads based on member recommendations, trends and what’s in the news. A great place to look if you’re after some BLM-inspired reads.

Recent reads: Rise Up by Stormzy; How To Argue With A Racist by Adam Rutherford; Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas

Follow: @RebelBookClub

Reese’s Book Club

Every month, Reese Witherspoon picks one book she loves with a woman at the centre of the story and shares it with her book club. Reese began her community in 2017 and now has over 1.8m followers. And some of the books she’s read for the book club over the years have sparked big things – both Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere have been turned into TV series, both starring Witherspoon herself.

Recent reads: The Guest List by Lucy Foley; I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown; Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Follow: @ReesesBookClub

And on the subject of books…

Bookshop

We couldn’t talk about books without mentioning UK newcomer Bookshop.org, an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. As more and more people buy their books online, the initiative aims to create an easy, convenient way for customers to get hold of books and support bookshops at the same time. When ordering, you can choose a local bookshop to support and they’ll receive the full profit from your order. Otherwise, orders will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops. By design, the organisation gives away over 75% of its profit margin to stores, publications and authors – and its website is a treasure trove of reading inspiration, recommended by authors and top booksellers.

Visit Bookshop.org

#SignForOurBookshops

Award-winning British author Holly Bourne has launched #SignForOurBookshops, a campaign to encourage shoppers to support their local bookshops in the lead-up to Christmas. At the start of lockdown 2.0, Bourne decided she would give bookshops signed, personalised bookplates designed by former children’s laureate Chris Riddell to encourage customers to buy her books from local shops rather than online. Now, more than 300 authors – including Dolly Alderton, Matt Haig and Emma Gannon – have also signed up to take part and are offering their own personalised bookplates to customers buying from physical bookshops. The hashtag is a great place to get book inspiration and discover others’ favourite reads.

Follow: #SignForOurBookshops

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