Many of you already know about my return to fiction reading after becoming so frustrated with reading only what other people were reading in the area of Learning and Development, Marketing, Business and Entrepreneurship.
I think I reached a saturation point with those because it was the same people talking about the same books, talking about the same themes and there didn’t seem to be any ‘depth’ to it anymore.
My thinking started to follow the crowd – and this annoyed me.
I had to force myself to think differently.
Since last year, I have made a concerted effort to go back to Fiction and Classics because they force me to slow down and place me into the shoes and minds of characters in situations that I would never have otherwise come across. I explain my reasons in some detail in my blog post-Slow Reading.
I’ve been writing a lot on this blog about the value and benefits of reading fiction as a means to have us not only think differently but openly question and consider alternative points of view. I have also shared how people can use the concept of book clubs in their workplace as social learning experiences.
It’s my belief, there’s an opportunity for organisations to consider alternative gatherings, events, and activities that bring a more artistic, creative, unusual element into business that get people reflecting and sense-making about their work, talking with each other about potential applications and giving them an opportunity to learn something new about a topic or even, about themselves.
It need not be serious all the time. We can meld both art and business together because art brings our real selves out and let’s face it – that’s who we need to be when it comes to our workplaces nowadays otherwise, how is a company to be innovative? We can’t do it by following what others do, questioning nothing and being automatons.
I saw this first hand from Meredith Lewis (you may know of her as @dangerousmere on Twitter) who ran these wonderful Conversations around books. I attended one called Conversations of Intrigue where we discussed what we learned in John LeCarre’s novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to workplace contexts. You can read my reflection of it in this blog post. This is when I realised that Meredith had something here. Through books we were able to explore some interesting and at times confronting conversations that made us sit and think about what it means for our situations in work and life.
So reading fiction allows my mind to temporarily wander and create my own picture in my head. It forces me to seek out my own answers by asking myself:
- “How would I deal with this situation if it happened to me?”
- “Why is this situation so interesting/frustrating/confronting/emotional for me right now?”
- “How does this apply to what I’m experiencing in my life and work today?”
Book Reviews As Sense-Making
So with that, I started to think about how reading books is a form of sensemaking for me when I can consider the themes and questions they put to me. In the past, I have written various online book reviews such as The Lieutenant and in my earlier years on this blog where I wrote reviews on Learning and Development books too.
However, having been a member of a local book club through the Bentleigh Library (my local library), I’ve also been exposed to books (and people) I would never have otherwise read and met. This has broadened my outlook considerably because it’s also taken me down a new path of learning – not just consuming books but actively talking and thinking about them and learning from them – making my own lessons.
As I explored this concept, I looked at YouTube and found that there’s this who YouTube culture called “Booktubers” who review books. Booktubers are people who read and review books to their community and they talk about things such as (list below from Wikipedia):
- Bookshelf tours videos where they reorganize their bookshelves
- TBR (to be read) videos where they list what they intend to read in the immediate future
- Wrap-up videos containing discussions about books the BookTuber has read in a particular period of time
- Tag videos consisting of a series of questions or challenges around a theme which the BookTuber answers, then tags other BookTubers to answer
- Discussion videos addressing themes across books, or issues arising in the BookTube community
- Collaborations where games related to characters from books or some form of a tag video are played
- Interviews with popular authors
- Haul (new books added to their collections) and Unhaul (books they are removing from their collections)
This concept of how these YouTubers were using books and the above activities as well as integrating different viewpoints from their community enthralled me. It was similar to what was happening in any other community such as the Knitting and other crafting communities. I thought about how such Communities of Interest could also have applications around workplace contexts. For example, if we had communities of interests around new skill development; or areas where an organisation is exploring for its future in the marketplace.
So I trawled through various accounts to find people who review the types of books that I read that aren’t just about Young Adult fiction and came across Claire Loves Books. Claire reviews the types of books I read and she does it in a way that is articulate, intelligent and in-depth. I’ve since subscribed to her channel and delight in listening to her reviews of books. (Recently I read Sally Rooney’s Normal People and she was so wonderfully expressive and in-depth with her review….I can only aspire to such greatness!)
My First Online Book Review
So I tried to do what Claire did but miserably failed at my first attempt. Last night, I dabbled with YouTube Studio Editor to live stream the video (but not share it) to see if it was easier to do my review in front of the computer. This morning, I changed my mind and decided to go for sitting in front of our bookshelf at home in the living room. However, I’m not entirely happy with that either.
Well the books behind me are all in alphabetical order and they are all my husband’s. He also likes order in his bookshelves and all the ones you see stacked in between are mine. I like messiness when it comes to books. I like stacks. I also borrow a lot of books from the library or they’re on my Kindle so this backdrop isn’t reflective of the books I read. I think it may be time to do some rearranging of books if I am to do more online reviews.
So here is my first attempt at reviewing Meg Keneally’s Fled. When I looked through it, I missed an entire opportunity to talk about the fact that she doesn’t mention Arthur Phillip (the Governor – who’s really a minor character) and the last part of the book about her life after being found out that she was an escapee. Oh well….