A work book club is a fantastic way to connect with your peers. You can bond with your workmates over a shared love for fictional characters and can learn to appreciate new perspectives from non-fiction memoirs or travel writing. This is an assumption that is backed by research, as many folks love book clubs because of the sense of comradery they feel when reading together.
But choosing the right book for a work book club can be a little daunting — what if no one likes your choices? Well, here are a few books to choose from.
When choosing a work of fiction, try to stick with novels that have been published in the 20th or 21st century, are a suitable length (bonus points for novellas), and explore a topic in a new or thought-provoking way. Here are a few choices for you:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.
Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog is translated from French and set in Paris. You follow the lives of Renée — a hyperintelligent, well-read concierge — and Paloma — a 12-year-old girl who lives in the building that Renée serves. At its heart, the novel is a love letter to reading and the arts. Through humor and introspection, the reader encounters a cast of characters who defy their social positions and learn to live fuller lives.
A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean.
A River Runs Through It is a collection of three short stories, all set amongst the big waters of Montana. The title story follows two brothers in their pursuit of fishing, love, and meaning. At times the story is hyper-focused on the art of fishing. At others, the stories consider lofty topics like metaphysics and life’s meaning (but at no point does Maclean’s prose become pontificating). It’s sure to open up a conversation about your peer’s passions, and you may just discover a shared love for nature and the great outdoors.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is widely regarded as the greatest writer of the 20th century. However, most of his works are far too long for a book club. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novella-length story that oscillates between magical realism and a crime novel. If the folks at your workplace enjoy it, you can follow it up with the longer classic 100 Years of Solitude.
Reading nonfiction together is a great way to engage virtual teams who may not have a clear understanding of company culture. Your book club can serve as an engaging touchstone for folks who don’t come into the office and is sure to bring people out of their shells.
I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, by Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou is best known for her works of poetry. However, as a nonfiction writer, she expanded the memoir genre and gave new life to autobiographical writing. The book itself explores identity, race, and the value of literature in one’s life. It’s important to give a content warning when suggesting this book, as it does include descriptions of rape. But, if the folks in your book club enjoy this, you can expect to engage in a wonderful conversation on love, racism, and the meaning of freedom.
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.
Just as Angelou reshaped the genre of memoir, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has forever shifted the conventions of travel writing. Wild tells the story of Strayed’s journey from heroin use to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed shares the joy of personal enrichment through travel with readers and shows us how getting off the beaten path can deliver us from our comfort zones into a life worth living.
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