How to participate in a book club if you didn’t read the book

Nothing beats reading a book cover to cover. The author leads you to new places, introduces you to new people, thoughts, processes, and helps you discover more about yourself. Attending a book club after you’ve read the book is a totally edifying experience. Despite best efforts, sometimes, you don’t have time to read the book. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should not attend a book club meeting.

Book clubs can be so much fun and a great way to connect with friends, even if you didn’t read the book. Book discussions provide opportunities to learn from others and share related experience in a relaxed atmosphere without any threat of being graded. Whether you’re there to share an experience, pick up a nugget of wisdom, or discover something new about yourself, these tips will help you navigate a meaningful conversation when you haven’t done the reading.


Read the book synopsis on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia often provides a very short summary of the book that allows you to understand the story, some of the characters, and the purpose behind the book. The Wiki page will also be a great source of information to learn about the author. Typically several links are provided to learn more about the author, book, real-life individuals, industries, and issues related to the book.

Read a book review.

Google the words “book review” along with the name of the book. Look for prestigious critics who have read the book and note the pros, cons, comparisons and other insight they can provide. Also reading reviews help you think about how to communicate about your own company. You may identify related books and authors that will help you expand your knowledge about a particular topic or industry.

Listen to an interview with the author.

Authors and publishers do a good job of creating lots of opportunities to learn about the book in different places. During your lunch break, listen to a podcast of the author talking about the book. You’ll learn about the individual, the “why” behind the book, and some questions that may be worth referencing or sharing during the book club meeting.

Visit the author’s social media links.

The author’s Facebook pages are typically a great place to find links to interviews, lectures, book suggestions, and insight into the life of the author.


LISTEN to the people who read the book before chiming in.

Participants who read the book deserve the opportunity to answer questions first and steer the conversation. Out of respect for those who read and prepared for the book club meeting, let them respond to the facilitator and share their experience before you. Once the readers have shared, then it’s OK to follow up with a clarifying question or share a related experience.

Crowdsource answers to problems.

One of my favorite experiences attending a book club was when Executive Mentor, Angie Stocklin was facilitating a conversation about the book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston, MD. We were talking about how to give difficult feedback to great employees who were dealing with a major life event over an extended period of time.

Diana Caldwell shared that after you’ve had multiple conversations and made provisions to support them, it’s time to say, “We need you performing the way you did before X happened. Our team needs you for X reasons. What do we need to do to get you back on track?” It allows the manager to be compassionate, open, and honest about the current situation in a way that supports the person dealing with something significant. It was a great piece of advice that I added to my tool box.

If you have a challenge related to the book, ask the participants how they have successfully dealt with that same kind of situation in the past.

Share what you learned on social media.

If you learned something new during the conversation, share your wisdom on social media and tag the author, facilitator, person who shared with you, and @IamAStartupLady. We like sharing news and information that educates and uplifts our community.

If you didn’t read it - don’t judge it.

Instead, make a note of your critique, read the book, and revisit your thoughts.


©2021 Startup Ladies LLC

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