About six months ago I spotted a novel on the desk of my colleague, Justyna - I was intrigued by the beautiful cover and enjoyed listening to her wax lyrical about the story -The Dervish House - which sounded a mix of the cyberpunk, science fiction and gothic noir.
As a rapacious bookworm, I'm always on the lookout for new reads to devour and at the same time, keen to share my own recommendations to those with a similar penchant for the written word. And from that conversation sprang the Equinet Book Club.
What I love about being in a book club (I'm also in another one outside of work which has been running for 4 years) is the breadth and diversity of reading material that you cover. By taking it in turns amongst colleagues to choose which book to read, you find yourself sampling and relishing genres, times and creative voices you've never experienced before; this group approach to reading teaches you to indulge in and consider work you might not have been previously aware of or drawn to.
As lifelong learning fan, John Coleman of the Harvard Business Review, highlights: "Engaging with diverse content — fiction, history, biography, social science — 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."
The Equinet book club has already encompassed a number of genres from the enthralling antipodean novel "Jasper Jones" by Craig Silvey to Sarah Knight's unabashed self-help guide "The life-changing magic of not giving an f***" and most recently, to the mighty "Steve Jobs: the Exclusive Biography". This latter - much to my surprise - I am guzzling with verve, desperate to learn more about the man who is both pitiably loathsome and astoundingly admirable in equal measure.
But the beauty of workplace book clubs is not just about broadening ones literary horizons, of course, it's about the joy of shared learning, about relationships - the enjoyment of companionship and mutual interest - and also, about personal development.
Susan M Heathfield writing for thebalance.com suggests that office book clubs could offer employees an opportunity to "learn new concepts and new ways of doing activities that they can apply in their workplace" if participants chose a particularly relevant subject for their area of work. She also underlines the "camaraderie, comfort, and teamwork in the group of employees who attend".
Whilst Natalie Daher in the article below for cnbc.com highlights the positive impact of reading on the art of conversation. She contends that book clubs not only motivate you to be a better listener, as you take on board the views and opinions of others about a subject you know, but also encourage the development of a stronger, broader vocabulary, useful in so many areas of professional life.
In the words of author, Vera Nazarian: "Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light." I look forward to more doors opening and greater illumination filtering through from the books we read, both for myself and my colleagues, as we continue with the office book club.
For business professionals, book clubs are an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence, foster relationships and improve as communicators, according to John Coleman in the Harvard Business Review. And several business scholars have even praised reading fiction. Moreover, book clubs can boost employee performance. "The act of reading in a community can help you read more deeply and better understand diverse perspectives," Coleman writes. "Engaging with diverse content — fiction, history, biography, social science — 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." Even if you never would have picked the selection, a book club challenges you to think differently. Studying another workplace's culture broadens your perspective. Discussing a narrative tests your views and opinions, and how you express them.