Personal development

The benefits of a summer book club

Thinking about starting up a summer book club in your organisation? Here are some tips from DSC's Publisher and book enthusiast, John Martin.

How often can you afford to send your whole team off together on a training course and have the luxury of OOO messages pinging up all at the same time all over the office? I would guess the answer is universally NEVER, or only, as they say in Bulgaria (apparently), ‘when the pig in yellow slippers climbs the pear tree.’ 

And yet there is an alternative to formal group training that might be easier to manage in small time packets, that could encompass as many staff and volunteers as you like and which is certainly cheaper. Most of our customers have bought a book from DSC specifically for themselves to address their own needs and perhaps, therefore, view reading as a solitary occupation that takes place in a darkened room. But if you treat reading as a shared learning experience, it can be both more motivating and more productive. As Jane Austen said ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading’ and we wouldn’t disagree. 

The benefits of a book club 

A book club is a brilliant and fun way to achieve group learning in your organisation,  here’s why:

  • It gives you instant and affordable expertise that you can access whenever you want it. 
  • A great thing about reading a book is the surprise element – perhaps more so than formal training – you don’t always know what you will get from it. 
  • It gives staff the opportunity to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of daily work and think more widely and laterally. Insights from reading can sometimes unlock knotty problems you may have where perhaps you couldn’t see the wood for the trees. 
  • It refreshes team interactions and dynamics and can cut across any silos and hierarchies in your outfit. If your organisation is located across several sites or where everyone works remotely, it is a neat way of pulling everyone together for a common activity. 

Get clubbing 

Get your book club started with six very simple steps:

First step

Decide who your club is for – a specific team or for all staff, depending on needs and the size of your organisation. You can even be a book clubber across organisations. Perhaps you are in a similar role to someone else in another charity you could connect with, agree to read a book in parallel and meet up for a coffee to discuss it. 

Second step

Establishing the rules of the club. Remind people that it is work so the reading should be done in work time in the same way as it would be for any training.  

Third step

Agree on the book. Who chooses what you read? If there is a book that you know already, the choice can be simple – just put it out there to your team. Or you can take the democratic route and ask for suggestions. You could even start with a DSC book, check out a selection of our books below!

Fourth step

Set a deadline for reading the book and get a meeting in the diary for the book club discussion.

Fifth step

When your club meets, give everyone a chance to share their views. Break down the discussion into manageable and logical chunks by chapters or subject themes. 

Final step

Keep the learning alive. Because books are a permanent resource, you can take your time and return to them whenever you like to refresh your learning. You may also find your learning from one book leads you to make it easier to choose your next. 

Ideas for non-fiction and fiction books to read

Some great DSC communal reads 

Other great reads