I’m putting it out there.
I don’t understand people who say that they never read books – or even worse, “never have time to read a book”. They may as well say that they don’t value their own growth and personal development.
The easiest way to learn something new and incorporate it into our lives is to…pick up a book.
A book doesn’t require digital tools or technology. Nor is it expensive. They’re readily available free from your local library, your next door neigbour, your friends, family and colleagues. You can buy them cheap from second-hand bookstores, stores and markets. They are available and around us. It’s as if they are in our lives calling for us and will always be there the moment we look up from our phones and notice them.
Books aren’t going away any day soon.
Recently I joined a couple of book clubs in local libraries as a way to get out of the house, meet new people in my community and most of all, force myself to read fiction.
I used to read a lot of fiction growing up. I have lost track of a number of books I have read over the years. The books I have collected, borrowed, bought, given away or sold. However, ever since starting my working life over 24 years ago, my preference has been on non-fiction but there comes a time when your brain needs a rest.
The book clubs are a way for me to read a new genre and immerse myself into the story and then with a group of people, share our thoughts, perspectives and opinions about it.
Book clubs are a social learning activity that you can participate and which you come away with a better appreciation and understanding of the book than what you came in. However, it always leaves “that little bit unknown” to be further explored because the next person will also have their own judgements about it.
Books – specifically the ideas within books – change a person. When the experience is shared with a group of people, you are forced to look inwards, reflect on your own thinking to try and understand why you thought this way and another person thought another way.
This year, while I was working on a short three-month contract with a company, during one of my building walks (I used to wander up and down various floors checking out who worked where), I stumbled upon a communal book library. Many companies have these where employees could pick up a book and then return it when they’re finished and it works on an honour system. During my employment there, I picked up a few books and read these in my own time and returned them – adding some more to the collection.
Starting a Book Club at Your Workplace
This got me thinking that book clubs are one easy way to create social learning experiences at work. They are easy to coordinate and relatively cost-free. They’re also motivational, interesting – and fun.
They can be coordinated to be conducted onsite at the work location with people from cross-departmental teams or alternatively, could be online using any enterprise social network to create an online book club.
You can have themes every month related to the big ideas that business is facing today so that people can read, share their own thoughts and reflect on their own contexts and applications at work. These discussions can then continue online in your social network which is a great way to bust silos and get people from different teams talking to one another.
If your organisation has a licence to Lynda.com for courses why not have a licence for say, Audible or other online book store or library?
In fact, just by looking at the GoodReads, you can incorporate similar activities, events, challenges, communities around books in your organisation.
So this got me thinking.
If I held a book club in an organisation what would I have as my list? Here are some that come to mind which are a mix of fiction and non-fiction.
- January: Ready Player One by Ernest Kline
- February: The Future of Work by Charles Handy (or any Charles Handy book) or Future of Work by Lynda Gratton
- March: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- April: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- May: Brain Rules by John Medina
- June: The Neo-Generalist: Where You Go is Who You Are by Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin
- July: Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
- August: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- September: The Circle by Dave Eggers
- October: The Art of Creative Thinking: You Are More Creative Than You Think by Rod Judkins
- November: Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
- December: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
If you had to organise a book club, what books would you have in it?
I hope that’s given you some food for thought – books for thought – about how you can easily and simply incorporate social learning experiences around books in your organisation that would get people talking across teams and departments and offering their own perspectives, experiences and then consider applications for how it impacts them – and it’s fun.