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7 Online Book Clubs You Can Join Now

Find wonderful reads, insightful discussions and more — from a distance

From left: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Jenna Bush Hager
From left: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Jenna Bush Hager
Getty/AARP

If we’ve learned one literary lesson from the pandemic, it’s that book clubs don’t have to be in-person to be enlightening. From stalwarts such as Oprah's Book Club to pandemic-inspired newcomers like the New York Public Library and WNYC’s virtual club, online groups offer a fun way to converse with fellow readers, hear from writers and maybe even try a new genre or author. Here are seven online clubs where you can join the discussion — or quietly explore some fantastic book suggestions.

The Girlfriend Book Club

The Girlfriend, AARP's newsletter and website for women 40 and older, offers a private Facebook-only book club with nearly 43,000 members and counting — but anyone can join. It's fun and lively and packed with mostly female bibliophiles. Each month, the club focuses on a different book that was chosen through a Facebook poll, and authors participate in a live Facebook chat (which occurs on the third Tuesday of each month). The August selection is Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus; previous selections have included The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin, and The Guncle by Steven Rowley. It's an amiable community where members offer suggestions to anyone looking for their next binge-worthy book. Added bonus: The club treats members to multiple book giveaways each month.

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Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club

The best book recommendations come from friends, Goodreads.com cofounder Otis Chandler believes. And with 125 million members, the site offers lots of potential pals who want to talk about books they love (or don't love). Goodread's online groups focus on everything from romance to travel books, but if you want a broad mix of titles — and are more interested in great reading recommendations than a cozy community — check out the nearly 15,000-member Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club. The group focuses on books that have won the site's best-of-the-year awards (as determined by Goodreads members). Members are currently reading top picks from 2021; upcoming selections include The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles; The Dictionary of Lost Words, a debut novel from Australian author Pip Williams; and the nonfiction Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. To enter the conversation, just start or add to a discussion thread on the site.

New York Public Library and WNYC Virtual Book Club

In 2020, to help counter the tedium of self-isolation during the pandemic, the New York Public Library (NYPL) and public radio station WNYC launched a virtual book club — and it’s still going strong. The club focuses on a different book each month — July’s book, for example, was the best seller The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner, which WNYC host Alison Stewart discusses on the air and on social media. Other recent selections have included the novels Trust by Hernan Diaz (on the longlist for the Booker Prize and set for an HBO adaptation starring Kate Winslet), and The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, along with actor and activist Harvey Fierstein's memoir, I Was Better Last Night. The vast New York public library system (encompassing 88 neighborhood branches) also hosts a variety of online classes, events and book discussions with authors.

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Oprah's Book Club

Oprah Winfrey's book club is arguably America's most influential literary hit-maker, turning unknown titles into massive best sellers — from its early days on The Oprah Winfrey Show to its rebirth in 2012 in the pages of her magazine as “Oprah's Book Club 2.0.” While some may snub their nose at her mass-market appeal, Winfrey has awfully good taste in books. so you can hardly go wrong if you turn to the more than 90 books she has chosen through the years. Recent selections have included Nightcrawling, the debut novel by 19-year-old poet Leila Mottley; actress Viola Davis’s memoir Finding Me; and life coach Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self. You can sign up for the book club newsletter and see videos of Oprah with authors on OprahDaily.com.

Los Angeles Times Book Club

This club hosts a community event with each of its authors, many of whom are heavyweights, from Barack Obama to Jane Goodall to Billie Jean King. Author and veteran news editor Donna Wares hosts the club, and the Times runs articles related to book selection topics. The selections often feature a California angle, such as the recent California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival by Keith Corbin, who writes of his rise from maximum-security inmate to celebrated chef (Corbin will discuss his book on Aug. 23). Sign up for a newsletter on the book club site.

Read With Jenna

When Today show cohost Jenna Bush Hager launched her book club in 2019, it seemed like a perfect fit. Hager is a lifelong bibliophile and her mother, former first lady Laura Bush, has launched a foundation to assist America's libraries, one of her multiple literary endeavors. Hager's club picks a new book every month, sometimes including ones by new authors (The Measure, by Nikki Erlick), as well as literary faves such as Naima Coster and her novel What’s Mine and Yours. The book club site, housed under the Today show umbrella, offers discussion questions, author interviews, other book recommendations and a list of previous book club selections. Readers can sign up for a newsletter and post their book comments on Facebook and Instagram by using the hashtag #ReadWithJenna.

Reese's Book Club

Before you dismiss Reese Witherspoon's book club as some Hollywood vanity project, consider this: Many of her picks rise to the New York Times Best Sellers list, and she has excellent literary taste. Each book centers around a woman's story, such as Honey and Spice, by Bolu Babalola, a romance novel featuring a sharp-tongued on-campus heroine, and Counterfeit, the fictional tale of two women who go into business selling fake luxury handbags, by Kirstin Chen. To learn each month's pick and chat about the selections, follow @ReesesBookClub on Instagram (where the club has 2.3 million followers), Facebook and Twitter. You can also find her five-year list of selections — starting with her first pick, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman — on ReesesBookClub.com.