A success manager from BetterBookClub (BBC) recently reached out to the Bradford Group to ask about our interest in joining the Champion’s Club, a community of the most active BBC clients. Since we’ve made an effort to maximize the benefits of book club this quarter, we were happy to receive the invitation.
Because we want to make important contributions to the Champion’s Club, we were careful to take notes from this quarter’s BetterBookClub meeting at the Bradford Group. We want to be able to share what we learned from reading – and not just about lessons from each book, but tips from hosting book club meetings, some of which have been more successful than others.
Here’s the inside scoop on how to make BetterBookClub the best book club:
Create an atmosphere. We’ve found that book clubs that consist of little more than a circle of chairs are about as exciting as a PTA meeting. Encourage everyone to contribute by putting them at ease before the discussion begins. Set the scene with comfortable seating. Provide some snacks, and to make it fancy, call them “hors d’oeuvres.” And if you want honest feedback about the books, we highly recommend a wine selection.
Be flexible. The goal of BetterBookClub is to foster continuous learning – don’t lose focus of that. It doesn’t matter whether you print out a report, read from a Post-It, or scroll through notes on your phone. In our meeting some people gave in-depth presentations and others flipped through their books to recall the content. Regardless of the style, each person who contributed their thoughts taught something to everyone else in the room.
We learned how to Make the Noise Go Away with upward communication. We discussed the chemical composition of the brain and learned that just a little bit of iodine “keeps you from being an idiot” (How to Win Friends and Influence People). We learned 50 ways to be persuasive (well… at least ten that I can remember) and we got some Damn Good Advice on anticipating cultural trends before they become major keys.
There’s a reason it’s a club. A club is something you join because you want to be a part of a group of people who share a common interest. Some of the most insightful thoughts were shared when we got off track and started laughing about the Internet in the ‘90s or getting free champagne at a restaurant. The chatter wasn’t irrelevant – it all tied back to a bigger lesson, but we were applying the books to our lives.
I may never remember every rule that Steven learned from On Writing Well, but I’ll never forget that one point addressed writing succinctly. I know, because he prefaced this point by telling us not to worry because he’s “not nearly as long-winded” as the rest of us. We laughed, talking about the difference between explaining something verbally versus writing it out and discussed ways to be concise.
We’re not quite experts on book club yet, but we’re learning as we go. Our library has gotten new additions and we’re happy to see that some books look a bit more weathered. What we do know is that the best meetings have had a good atmosphere, a flexible discussion and camaraderie that you only find in a club.