I just hosted my first (non) book club.
Calling it a ‘book club’ didn’t seem appropriate. Rather, we drew inspiration from Benjamin Franklin’s Junto, or Leather Apron Club, which met “to debate questions of morals, politics and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs.” (Wikipedia)
The intent of this first meeting was to define our ‘club,’ and it’s goals. In the end we were successful, and also able to identify a single book for exploration. The selected book is new to everyone involved, and seems to offer value in the agreed-to context of the intent of the club.
The book? Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.
The Inaugural Meeting
In preparation for this first meeting I looked at several book lists. This helped determine what we were trying to accomplish with this club. The book lists considered were:
- the United States Marine Corps Commandant’s Reading List;
- several lists drawn from topical podcasts;
- lists pulled from the Art of Manliness blog;
- personal and friends’ lists; and
- a consolidated list from various Internet searches.
The group decided on a monthly meeting. The first order of business will be for each member to create (or refresh) their own list of books they consider influential.
Next, we will review these lists to find common threads, and themes.
We then agreed to define categories; as we expect lists to include varied topics. As a result, we can explore books in specific themes before moving to others.
Finally, we agreed that for every book chosen we would identify a book that offers a contrary view. This will ensure we get different points of view. The idea is to prevent echo chambers and confirmation bias as we debate the prescribed readings. For instance, a quick look at Wikipedia offers two books (views) that are critical of Gladwell’s Blink:
- Think!: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye – Michael LeGault
- Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
The idea is to challenge our convictions, and therefore, mutually improve ourselves. By considering disparate views we hope to affirm, modify or discard our convictions. If no conviction is held in a certain area, perhaps this exercise can help form one. This then, will of course need to be challenged.
It should be interesting at the very least.