First, a little background…
The book club I am currently in is made up of 8 people, 3 iOS developers and 5 .Net developers. Typically we read around 20-30 pages a week in our own time and then meet for 20 minutes or so after lunch to discuss what we read that week.
But why do it in the first place? Here are a select few of my reasons (I have a lot more!)
We all want to get better at what we do but for one reason or another some struggle to read a book past the first few chapters. Reading with other people is a great way to make yourself read a book, as you will at least want to keep up with the group but you may also find solidarity with your group through the tough chapters.
Naturally the group will be made up of different skill levels so you may find yourself soon reading a book that you may never have picked up because you considered it out of your depth. This can also help to broaden team knowledge and cohesion by finding out who is knowledgeable on certain subjects and learning from other’s anecdotes on the topic of discussion.
Looking up concepts born in conversation is also regular occurrence. For example while reading The Art Of Unit Testing, which is all in C#, a discussion erupted on the difference of unit testing with Swift and Objective C. This then evolved into questions regarding what Objective C and Swift compile down to and the Objective C runtime. Needless to say much research was carried out afterwards.
Most importantly, keep the book selection fun. We tend to read tech book then a more abstract book so that everyone gets to change gear a little. When I mean abstract I mean books that can relate to software development but cover a much wider scope of thought, for example Conceptual Blockbusting.
The benefit of more abstract books is to make everyone think on another level about their thought process and how they tackle problems, as well as broadening people’s horizons into areas they may not normally have ventured. Personally I also find these books stimulate a lot of conversation in the group, perhaps because it transcends skill level and equals the playing field for conversation?
- Someone should really lead the group, prompting talking points and scheduling meet ups.
- Ideally at least one person will have a small grasp of the topic if a tech book is being read to help lead conversation.
- Some books are easier to read than others, change pages/chapters per week to suit.
- Meet up after lunch, as people tend to be less busy.
- It should be fun, not a monologue or lecture.