Tips on starting a virtual Book Club at work

I read a ton and my backlog of books to read is ever-growing. I'd love to connect with other bookworms in my organization of fewer than 30 people and share the knowledge & opportunities for discussion.

I'd love to hear everyone's experiences with starting or participating in employee Book Clubs.

  1. What worked well for your oganization's Book Club? Especially with encouraging partcipation without putting mental pressure on folks to join.
  2. What do you think could have been done differently to improve the experience?
  3. What was the process for suggesting books to read next and coming to a decision? How is that working for your org?

Thanks so much for your time and insights!

Hi Tiffany,We had a book club at one of my previous companies! We had a slack channel for the group and would choose a book of the month/quarter and setup recurring meetings to discuss a few chapters. We didn't have any official processes, which kept it lightweight and worked well for our 70 ppl company. Someone would recommend a book and whomever decided to join, they'd meet.
Amazing! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Follow-up question—how often did your group meet to discuss?
Hi Tiffany, glad to hear you want to start a book club! My colleague started our company's book club about 1.5 years ago, and our company's grown from 30 to 40 people during this time. What worked for us:1. Attendance was high for the 1st event, then it was always 3-4 people, sometimes only 2. It was impossible to make sure everyone read the same book, so we started doing themes instead. We met once a month, and would have themes like books about love, biographies, favorite books from your childhood, books that helped you at work etc. 2. We mostly just had people introduce the books they read and discuss, which then became a bit boring and people felt the Zoom fatigue, so we started doing readings instead. Before each session someone would prepare to do a reading of their favorite chapter from a book and that worked really well in combination with discussions. 3. The book club was organized by one person, and she was already so busy with work, so often she didn't have time to prepare for the book club until a few days before. If we were to do it again, it would be better to have a few people help with the book club, and we could post quotes or give book recommendations throughout the month rather than only talk about the book club as it's coming up. My partner heard about our company's book club and tried to run it at his own company, but he was only able to have two sessions (each only had 2-3 people show up). He suggested the group to read Girl, Women, Other in the hope of helping his male-dominant company become more inclusive, only to realize his colleagues struggled to resonate with the book and didn't take it seriously.I really enjoyed our book club sessions because it was one of the few times colleagues would get together and not talk about work. But it wasn't easy to run it. Hope this helps!
Hi Annie, I appreciate your response! Sounds like it will be more sustainable with at least one other teammate besides myself to keep the initiative going and some amount of playing by ear to find titles that everyone will find interesting or valuable in some way. Thanks for mentioning your partner's experience, too! There aren't too many other women in my org at the moment, so I would hesitate to bring up titles like "Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men", even though I personally think it shares a lot of valuable information with everyone, not just women.
hey tiffany, that's awesome - great idea! i think people will be really grateful for you getting this started, book clubs are fun and a nice way for people to connect!everyone has provided great advice, i'll chime in with a couple other things:i think that one thing that worked well for participation (without pressure) was having book club more frequently, reading a really manageable amount. this meant people could keep up and engage. also having some light topics/questions for people to mentally prepare for was good because if there are people who need to feel prepared to participate, they know what's coming. for choosing books, i put out a quick survey to get ideas then took suggestions and then used a google poll. this seems to worked fine, certain books stood out immediately and everyone seemed fine with this process.hope this helps!
Aww, thanks, Liz! :') As a self-proclaimed bookworm, I'm curious as to who else in the org enjoys reading as a pastime, too!Your first point makes me think of MVP'ing the idea of forming a book club initially as a primarily asynchronous "event" ​in a Microsoft Teams channel. I know I already have a ton of meetings throughout the week and the Zoom fatigue is soo real for me as an introvert on some days, so this may lower the barrier to entry, as well as give everyone a forum for sharing books they're currently reading and the knowledge gained. Thanks for your input on gauging interest for titles! I'll definitely give it a shot once I see a decent response from the org (I'll be happy with 15–20% engagement).