Member Spotlight: Creating a Virtual Book Club to Discuss Personal Growth


When Rachel Vollmer moved from Canada to the United States last fall, she set out to find a community of like-minded people. And when COVID-19 pushed everyone inside, she decided to organize a personal-growth book club.

In April, Rachel started Reading Remote, setting up a Slack channel and brainstorming virtual events, with an eye toward hosting in-person get-togethers someday.

“I’m trying to make a space for people who have the same goals,” said Rachel, who works with a nonprofit that focuses on entrepreneurship and a social network for entrepreneurs. “Ideally, I want to pick books that have actionable habits, ideas, or tips that people can apply to their everyday lives.”

Rachel’s first book club pick was “Braving the Wilderness,” by Brené Brown. For July and August, club members will read either “Failing Up,” by Leslie Odom Jr., or “Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes. Rachel said the theme for those months is taking risks and unlocking your potential. 

“We’re all trying to continue to move forward even though things are challenging,” she said.

So far, 22 people — seven in Toronto and the rest in New York — have signed up for Reading Remote. Small groups will soon start meeting on video chat, and the Slack channel allows members to discuss anything related to personal development. Themes and book choices through December are available on the Reading Remote website.

One of Rachel’s immediate goals for the club is to invite a personal growth author to speak in an ask-me-anything format — an event she hopes to co-host with KettleSpace, which she joined just two weeks before locations had to close. (Her favorite space was Bohemian Spirit on the Upper East Side.) She said the KettleSpace team already has offered feedback and connected her with other Members willing to share their expertise. 

“I definitely feel the sense of community a lot more than I thought I would,” Rachel said, noting that participating in KettleSpace’s online events has helped her recognize more Members — something she did not anticipate happening back in March. “I know it’s not as ideal as it would be in person, but it’s certainly better than I would have expected.”

Anyone interested in Reading Remote may sign up through the website or Slack channel.

About the Author

Sarah Latson is a freelance writer and editor who teaches journalism in New Jersey.

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