• Tim Stevenson

The Freethinking Book Club

Updated: Feb 14

It's not every week that you stumble into starting a book club but this week that was what happened to me! I'm actually wondering if anyone has even started a book club since the dawn of the internet and the time when we used to pronounce the 'w w w dot' at the beginning of all web addresses. During this time those who wanted to appear especially literate in this new online world would also add 'h t t p colon forward slash forward slash'. Yes, even nauses have been around since 1989.


The story goes like this. I bought a copy of Adam Grant's 'Think Again' and I'm super excited to read it. I'm also really passionate about courageous free thought both in my personal life, in how we work in athletic performance and I want to experience it with other people in my community and network.


So on a whim, I used my Instagram stories to ask if anyone wanted to read it with me in a 'book club' style format. Now I have never been in a book club and as such, I am entirely unqualified to lead one, but as Richard Branson said:


Never turn down a good opportunity. Say yes and then figure out how to do it.


Thinking back that is maybe something I should have told the 20+ people who asked to join what I have now named 'The Freethinking Book Club'. Well, they're finding out now and I have got their telephone numbers so let's just go with it.


BOOK CLUB FOR VIRGINS


That header obviously relates to book club virgins not other kinds of nervous first-timers. All are welcome at Book Club.


But as a virgin myself I made the decision to do 'it' how I wanted to do 'it' (we're still talking books) and therefore only paid attention to two-thirds of Sir Branson's pill of wisdom.


I decided to replace 'figure out how to do it', with 'make it up as you go along', which in these circumstances seems perfectly reasonable to me. Especially as I am never one to miss an opportunity to try and disrupt the status quo!


So here is how the Freethinking Book Club is going to roll! Oddly, I am sat about the pen the next section of this manifesto and I have absolutely no idea what I am going to write. Literally winging it! This has the making of something quite magical or it might flop like an overdone frankfurter. It's going to be VHS or BetaMax. Apologies to anyone reading this from Generation Z onwards, you don't know the technological struggles we endured between 1983 - 1997.


THE PLATFORM:

The formalities, pleasantries and inspired thought-nugget sharing is being done on Signal. Why you ask when everyone already has WhatsApp? Well, that is exactly why. Because we need to be open to new things. I also wanted to make sure that those who had expressed an interest were serious about Book Club. Downloading a new app is kind of a big deal when online platforms have conditioned us to spoon-feeding whilst they steal our attention spans. Finally, Zuckerberg knows too much already. He's going to be well pissed off that he doesn't know what is going on in book club!


THE PLAN

My experience so far is telling me that running a book club in 2021 is much more complex than it was when parish community centres were the venue for such radical social engagement. The biggest problem back then would have been a supply chain problem at the local library. Now we have to contend with different mediums whether that be paper, digital or audio, malalignment of delivery dates and the fact that I think one person got excited and has finished the audiobook already after ramping up the read speed to x 5.


Rest assured we are navigating these issues and all book club members have agreed to get the book and read it. Then we will meet and talk about what we have read. I don't know how I will sleep at night with this pressure.


THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Time to get serious as I switch persona's from Jane Fonda to a more Tyler Durden-esk approach.



The Freethinking Book Club has Rules of Engagement that everyone will agree to abide by.


This is what they are:


  1. The first rule of Book Club is that you DO talk about Book Club. I feel this is important.

  2. No attack or defence. Only a voracious appetite to understand someone else's position.

  3. No soapboxing. Book Club is not a platform for us to convince everyone else that our worldview is better than theirs. First-time offenders will be asked politely to climb down after which the soapbox will be burnt so there is no risk of a repeated rule violation.

  4. Try to lose. We will all aim to leave Book Club questioning what we think we know rather than being smug and patting ourselves on the back for being right.

  5. If it is your first night at book club, you had better have read the book!


AND SO IT BEGINS


There you have it. The story and vision for the Freethinking Book Club. Admissions for the first series are now closed but, assuming I manage to blag it and it goes well, if you want to join in the future send me an email or message me on Instagram.


Let us grow wise together.


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