A book club at work can be a great way to introduce new ideas to your co-workers, provide a chance to meet and discuss “work” in different settings, and facilitate everyone getting to know and see each other outside the office while having some awesome food and drinks.
So how do you go about setting up a book club? We’re here to help, as we happen to have one here at Blue Summit Supplies. We’ll guide you through everything you need to make your book club a hit at the office, with help on how to name your book club, the types of books you’ll read, where to meet, and establishing some rules for your meetings.
Let us be honest: The most important part of any book club is the name. If you have a cool or interesting name for your book club, more people are going to want to join and be a part of it. Try to think of something fun about your company or jobs that could be a fun name. Maybe you draw inspiration from a book that you really enjoyed or found helpful; maybe it’s just something funny like “Drinking Club Where We Also Read Books.” Really, anything is better than calling it the “COMPANY NAME HERE Book Club.” So, get creative, and once you have a good name, it’s time to decide what you’re going to read about.
Still stuck on what to name your book club? Here are some of our suggestions.
So now you have a name for your book club, and hopefully a few people interested in joining. But what are you going to read? That’s one of the biggest challenges with a book club at work, because you’re left with two choices: Do you pick books that are related to work and your job and risking the books feeling like work rather than something enjoyable, or do you go with books that may be a more fun read but that people may not feel as obligated to read because it isn’t related to their job?
Yes, they may not be the most exciting things to read. And it’s true that at Blue Summit Supplies, our CEO and fearless leader Owen can tend to get a little overzealous quoting his favorites – Principles, Built to Last, and Infinite Game. But reading professional books can help you develop written and verbal skills, as well as growing empathy, creativity, and many other benefits to help you at work. The book club at BSS most recently read ‘Infinite Game’ by Simon Sinek, and almost daily we hear how some aspect of our jobs, or of the business is an ‘infinite game’.
While professional books have good information and can help with your day-to-day work or the company as a whole, they may not be the most exciting. People may not want to read 300 pages with no story, twists, or characters. By embracing books that aren’t work-related in your office book club, you create a more fun experience for the members of the club, plus you have a wider range of books to pick from. Consider any genre from non-fiction to fantasy, or whatever the members are interested in reading. And in the current climate we’re in, any sort of escape where we can forget about things and get absorbed in a story is a welcome break from our daily lives.
Choosing between work-related or non-work-related is a tough choice for any book club, and may not be one you have to make. Consider blending work-related books and non-work-related books to keep things interested. For example, for every three books related to work you read, take a break for one session and read one that isn’t work-related. Something to break up the routine and give the members a break.
With the responsibilities of working full-time plus your at-home life to balance, and then just other social obligations (well, as much as we have social obligations during all this), a work book club is probably not the highest priority item for busy professionals. Setting a meeting with a weekly regularity is probably not realistic, especially considering members have to have time to actually read the book that the club is meeting to discuss.
A general rule of thumb should be meeting once a month. That gives plenty of time to read the book and for people to be able to schedule the meeting far enough in advance where they’re not having to break other obligations, or feeling like the book club snuck up on them. It also means about 12 books a year, which is a pretty impressive number, all things considered.
But if you’re finding even that’s too tough, or perhaps everyone is finishing the books around every 2-3 weeks instead of a month, you can certainly adjust it. Every other month is just as respectable.
You have a great book club name. You’ve picked out what books you’ll be diving into and how often you’ll be meeting. But where are you going to hold these meetings? That’s mainly going to depend on what type of book club you have, as well as the books you’re reading.
Meeting at work doesn’t necessarily mean you set aside an hour or more of what should be spent on actual work to discuss the book. This could mean meeting during everyone’s lunch hour, ordering food, and discussing the book there. The benefits of this meeting spot are that everybody is already there, and you have a set time and length for the meeting. But those can also be drawbacks, especially if people have a particularly busy day at work and can’t get away for the book club meeting. Plus, you risk your other co-workers who aren’t in the book club feeling left out if you order food or meet in a common space within the office. Or, maybe it’ll have the opposite and your co-workers will see you all hanging out (and the awesome food you ordered) and want to be part of the group as well!
However, if you’re in a position to sacrifice an hour of on-the-clock time to meet for book club, you’re more likely to get bites. Professionals are understandably precious with their off time, even lunch hours, so this may not be the best for everyone.
If your office doesn’t have a good meeting space, there are no shortage of outside options to try. Local breweries and coffee shops often have a relaxed feel, with tables far enough apart that your group can discuss the book without being a bother to other patrons there. Plus, they have great drinks and food, and you’re supporting local businesses.
Pro tip: These places can get crowded on certain nights, and you’ll want to make sure there aren’t already other groups using those places on the same night. Plus, everyone has to drive to that spot, and it may be out of the way for some when they have to head home.
Personally, I think meeting outside of work is the better option, because even if the book is about work-related stuff, meeting at a place that’s not work can give it a more relaxed feel, and like the book isn’t a work task.
You’re probably thinking, “What kind of rules do you need for a book club? There’s only one.” And you would be half right. Yes, the first rule is, of course, Read The Book. Because if you can’t do that, then you can’t be in the book club - it’s that simple. But there will be other things you need to discuss. After all, in a book club, people are going to have different thoughts and opinions on the books, and you don’t want it turning into an argument where two co-workers resent each other because they had different views on the ‘Infinite Game’.
What your rules will be can depend on the type of people you have, where you meet, and what books you’re discussing. But above all else, READ THE BOOK. Seriously, don’t be the one person who didn’t read the book. Not cool.
So there you go! You have all the tools now to start a great book club at work. And always try to remember, your book club is as fun or as boring as you make it. Go all in with the name, books, themes, anything to make it a fun group to be a part of. And who knows, if your book club gets really cool and starts getting talked about outside of work, maybe you can add non-work members to future meetings!
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