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Book clubs thrive online in the pandemic era

Virtual book clubs take off during pandemic
Virtual book clubs take off during pandemic 02:03

NEW YORK - Mary Calvi's new book comes out Tuesday. 

The love story between a young Teddy Roosevelt and his first love, which Calvi can only describe as poetry - hence the title, "If A Poem Could Live and Breathe." The novel is based on their Gilded Age love letters, most of which have never been published. 

Calvi had the great fortune of seeing the originals, transcribing them, and weaving them into a novel. 

Mary Calvi's new book released today 00:54

Books are back in a big way, and so are book clubs. That's one reason we decided to start our own

As you can imagine, the modern day book club is typically virtual - a trend that really took off during the pandemic. 

"How many books do you read a year?" Calvi asked. 

"Usually around 300," said Kristin Thorvalden. 

Thorvaldsen is not just an avid reader. She's a social media influencer in the literary world, and book club host. And she's not alone. "Hey, it's Carly Rae" has tens of thousands of readers who follow her reviews. She's a budding author, book blogger and host of a popular book club. 

"It kind of gives you you're own safe space to, like, talk to people and connect with people. My book club's virtual, so right now we have people in Australia reading the book," Rae said. 

The number of digital meetup groups using zoom and facebook chat has skyrocketed. Thousands of them forming since the pandemic began. For authors, it's a beautiful way to connect and engage.

Mary Calvi on the couch talking about her new book 03:59

"In March, we're doing Mary's book," Thorvalden said. 

Calvi has participated in dozens of talks about her research and writing, and found readers to be engaging and sometimes craving reaction from others about their latest read.

"There's nothing like community," said former Rep. Steven Israel. 

Israel followed a lifelong goal to open a neighborhood bookstore in the village of Oyster Bay. 

"I'm used to standing in Congress where one side of the aisle is screaming at one of another. I want to be part of a community where people are just politely discussing a book and getting lost in the world of that book," Israel said. 

"When I'm home and looking to relax, I lose myself in a book," Thorvaldsen said. 

A perfect escape, thanks to the power of reading.

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