Start your own work-from-home book club with these great reads

Get your far-flung colleagues reading the same book, we'll supply the author chat.

While we may be temporarily physically separated from our friends and colleagues by computer screens and conference calls, that doesn't mean we we need to completely give up on the social utility of the shared experience. Sure, you can get involved with online gaming or streaming video parties, but I humbly suggest you start an online book club. 

To make it easier, here are an initial handful of books to start with, and we'll even include a an in-depth interview with some of the authors from our CNET Book Club archives to help kick the conversation off. Check back later for more book picks. 

Remember when the biggest problem we had was vampires sneaking their way into our moms' book clubs? Now getting together for the actual book club seems like a bigger danger. Author Grady Hendrix also wrote 2018's We Sold Our Souls, a fun metal-band-vs-black-magic thriller. 

Ruff wrote one of my favorite books of the last decade, the excellent Lovecraft Country. His latest abandons the 1950's south for a near-future virtual reality MMO, where digital sherpas guide people through immersive, and incredibly violent, video games. 

A government bureaucrat and rogue-ish AI go on buddy cop adventure to save America's greatest high-tech metropolis. A smart modern-feeling tech thriller, and yes, the government AI ends up being the most human of us all... 

Dead Astronauts is the third book in the loosely knit Borne-verse. It's a deeply strange exploration of resistance against a cryptic future corporation across multiple realities, wrapped in the author's signature eco-dystopia. 

"Fans are willing to follow me to some pretty strange places," VanderMeer said during his second CNET Book Club visit. "But anytime I use a more experimental or fractured structure. I make sure it's tied to the emotional lives of the characters." 

More: CNET Book Club: Jeff VanderMeer brings Dead Astronauts to life

Now playing: Watch this: CNET Book Club: Jeff VanderMeer on his new novel Dead...
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Neal Stephenson, whose 1992 book Snow Crash defined virtual worlds and the "metaverse" as much as William Gibson's Neuromancer did cyberspace, has written a number of amazing and challenging books. Fall, or Dodge in Hell feels like a nightmare critique of current life: a meme-destroyed America can no longer tell truth from fiction, and augmented reality glasses make reality bend even further. 

In our CNET Book Club chat last year, he said, "People talk about dystopian fiction and dystopian writers. But we're in the dystopia right now, because of what social media is doing to our civic institutions and our society." 

More: CNET Book Club: Neal Stephenson explores the long, weird future in Fall, or Dodge in Hell

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One of my favorite CNET Book Club episodes was when the great Walter Mosley joined us on the couch. That's in part because we could talk about Futureland, his 2001 collection of nine interconnected short stories set in a near-future New York that feels more current every day. 

"Being black and coming to science fiction," said Mosley, "I wanted to write a book that included us in a real and also in a political way -- that there are people of all kinds of colors and races, and and also genders, who are wonderful and powerful." 

More: CNET Book Club: 'Down the River Unto the Sea' with Walter Mosley

Best ebook readers to read these great books on:

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Amazon Kindle

If you're looking for a Kindle to leave in the seat-back pocket of an airplane (when you take a break from reading your book to "rest your eyes"), this is the one to get, just because it's so inexpensive. The latest version of this ebook reader gets an updated body and includes a built-in book light, even if the better screen and higher resolution on the Paperwhite still beat it by a mile.

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Kindle Paperwhite

Although it hasn't changed much in the last few years, the Paperwhite is still the default Kindle to gift the book enthusiast in your life. It's readable, the backlight makes it great for reading books in the dark -- plus, it's often discounted.

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Amazon's top-end Kindle is is too expensive for what it is. But at the same time, it's an extraordinary upgrade from reading on the standard Paperwhite. I upgraded during last summer's Prime Day, and was knocked out by how much better the Oasis is in terms of book readability and responsiveness. Plus, the physical page turn buttons are a huge plus. Amazon runs occasional deals on this, and watch out for trade-in bonuses on older Kindles to get it for a reasonable price. 

First published earlier and frequently updated.