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5 Tips for Building a Brilliant Employee Book Club

POSTED ON 
March 9, 2021

"Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting." – Edmund Burke

What do Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Brilliant Ink have in common? They have started book clubs! February marked the first official gathering of the Brilliant Book Club for our discussion of the book "Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph" by Chad Sanders.  

Book clubs have been around for a long time (fun fact, the first recorded book club was started in 1886!) and have only grown in popularity over the past year as a way of connecting with others while we’re isolated.

Reading in community opens us up to opportunities to be exposed to diverse perspectives (you won’t choose every book, so you’ll likely read genres and works you might never find on your own) and it can pull you out of your day-to-day routine and help you make connections between ideas from other fields that might be relevant to your work or life. Likewise, discussing these books with a group of colleagues can expand the way you think and offer new viewpoints. 

Looking to start a book club at the organizational level or with your team? Start with these five tips!

1. Pick a theme or a goal

Beyond connection, book clubs are a great way to emphasize company values, gain understanding of diverse groups and get employees on the same page (see what I did there?!). We started our book club with the intention learning from diverse perspectives and challenging our assumptions and biases.    

2. assign a moderator

We were fortunate enough to have the fabulous Dorianne St Fleur facilitate our conversation. She guided the questions and made sure everyone was able to share their viewpoint, which is especially critical when you’re doing it over Zoom!

3. Send the questions ahead of time

Dorianne came up with thoughtful questions that she shared with the team prior to our meeting. This allowed us all to spend some time focusing our thoughts to have a productive conversation.  

4. Take turns picking the book

Our CEO, Ann Melinger, kicked off our first book club with the book "Black Magic" by writer, director and actor Chad Sanders. Our next book will be "Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know" by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, selected by our Vice President, Sara Howland. Allowing people across the organization, both functionally and level of seniority, allows you to be exposed to more material while still staying in the parameters of the book club.  

5. Make it optional and give options

While we strongly encouraged everyone to participate, it was not mandatory. Everyone ended up participating– some read the whole book, some listened to the audiobook, some read part of it, and some had listened to podcasts by the author talking about the book. Make sure all feel welcome and included in the discussion!  

Have you started a book club at your organization?

We’d love to hear about it (and any book recommendations you have) so let us know on LinkedIn or Twitter! If you're looking for more bite-sized brilliance, be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell.

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