Thursday, March 26, 2020

Google Hangout Book Club

Photo from our book club meeting. A book, an adult beverage, and a laptop computer sit on a table.

Last night my Family Book Club met over Google Hangouts and it was just what my soul needed. After weeks of social distancing and after canceling our meeting, which was supposed to be last week, it was so great to see everyone and connect and talk about books and to just do something NORMAL. If you've been missing your book club, I recommend giving it a try!

Google Hangouts was pretty easy to manage, even for those who had not ever done one before. It did require some installation of apps and some troubleshooting for some of our members to get cameras all set up, so give yourself a little extra time when trying it for the first time. Go to and read this tutorial on starting a group conversation to get started. With Gmail, you can invite up to 10 people to a video call. To have a call with more than 10, it looks like you need to have a Google Business or Google Education account. 

You'll be able to see everyone at the same time with the person speaking being the main video and everyone else in thumbnails at the bottom of the screen. You can also click on one of the thumbnails to keep that video as your main video. That came in really handy when one of our club members gave us a tour of her new house! 

Now that we've got one Google Hangout under our belts, we're prepared for next month's book club meeting, should we need to continue meeting digitally. I realized that since I don't currently have access to my library and our digital copy of our next title has a hold list, I probably need to purchase the book. Support your independent bookstores, now more than ever!

While Amazon is taking weeks to ship stuff, your local stores are most likely going to be quicker and they need your support. I ordered our next book from my local indie, Carmichael's Bookstore, which is offering free shipping on orders over $50, plus free local delivery and free curbside pickup. 

Since I wanted it shipped, of course I had to add some storytime books to push it over the $50 limit. I've been FaceTiming with my 3-year-old niece for bedtime stories every night this week and I'm going to run out of picture books at some point, since I don't have access to my library. Now I'll be set up for another few days at least! 

It was so nice to do something that felt normal, to have my adult beverage in the comfort of my kitchen and to know that I'm being safe but I'm also getting to visit my friends. I hope you get to do something that feels normal (even if it's happening in an atypical way) this week.