The inside of Croydon Waterstones. Shelves of books, and a display with gay and trans pride flags and a sign saying 'books to take pride in'.

Croydon Waterstones’ LGBT+ book club survives coronavirus on Discord

Naomi Curston
April 4 2020, 12.25

A pandemic can’t stop Croydon LGBT+ book club members talking about books – they’ve moved online.

Members said founder and Waterstones bookseller Rachael Nazarko’s passion was a big reason for the group’s enthusiasm.

She set it up in April 2018, and created the parallel Discord server as lockdown loomed.

Ruth Collins, 25, who’s been with the club since it started, said: “Book club is my favourite time of the month. 

“We still need to talk about books and we need to get more people in so that we have something else to think about rather than this terrible virus that’s all anyone ever talks about at the moment.”

Miss Collins, a museum worker from Caterham, has never missed a meeting.

The club is a tight-knit ten-person gang meeting monthly inside Croydon Waterstones for two hours.

Most members are LGBT+, and all books have LGBT+ representation – a different kind every month.

“I think it’s a big draw to people who are LGBT, finding people like them who like to read and go through similar things to them,” Miss Collins said.

April’s book, Alice Oseman’s I Was Born for This, has trans representation – in part to honour the newest Croydon member, who is trans.

Last month’s book featured gay representation.

Discussion on I Was Born for This opened on Discord on 5 April at 3pm.

Discord is an app originally designed for gamers, where you can chat in groups via text, voice or video call, and decide whether your group server is public or invite-only.

Since 21 March the server has accumulated 32 members – more than triple the Croydon club membership.

They have been busy sharing ‘shelfies’ (photos of bookshelves), Hogwarts houses and LGBT+-friendly TV recommendations.

Miss Collins shared a photo of their Tolkein-themed corner, complete with swords and a Lego Orthanc tower.

New members are from as far away as New Zealand, the US and Brazil, and can chat anytime.

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