There are more people in the room than I expected. It’s July 2023, a year since this non-fiction book club started. Against all odds, this book club has been surviving.
No, scratch that.
You could say it’s thriving.
But I can hardly believe it.
Because when it first started, I didn’t expect this to last more than a few months. It was more a hopeful toss into the unknown, than a purposeful, intentional effort to make something as hopeful as the community I saw in front of me today.
Over COVID, I started reading. A lot. Books related to self-help, business, and my faith became my new friends. After all, there was a lot more time spent at home, and more time saved from the commutes to and from work.
I also wanted to learn more about myself, and what really mattered.
Over time, I shared quotes from books that impacted me, and their accompanying lessons on my book-stagram account. One day, an idea came to me.
Why not start a book club? It felt lonely and one-directional posting on Instagram. But deep down, I was looking for a channel to share these enlightening quotes, mind-blowing concepts, and have people of the same interest to bounce these ideas off with.
When I went online to search for book clubs, I found that these clubs were often thematic, or they would all be reading the same book.
I thought I would do something different. Each person would read what they wanted and share from there. We would also only read non-fiction books.
It was nothing fancy. Our first book club had all of four people. Yes, four.
No numbers missing there.
We met in a cafe, and over the two hours, shared what we had been reading and why it had impacted us. It was so touching to see people wake up on an early Saturday morning to share about books.
Especially when you would think that young people no longer read books. After all, why read when there was more exciting content in snackable snippets over TikTok or Instagram? Why read when it was so much easier to engage with videos, than reading words on a page?
But as I spent more time organising these book clubs, I’ve seen why people come.
A handful would Google search for a book club, while many would find us through our Instagram and LinkedIn pages.
The reason that contributed to The Saturday Book Club’s growth the most is through word of mouth – where one would bring friends and in turn bring another group of friends.
The network effect is what works well for us.
More than those monthly book clubs, this year in 2023, we also explored author and speaker sessions.
Last September, we held an author session with Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked and Indistractable.
It gathered over 80 attendees. Many left impacted and engaged and even hope to come for future author sessions.
Who is this Book Club for?
“To apply what I’ve learnt – sharing it in a community setting helps to reinforce what I’ve read. Explaining it to others helps to crystallize the concepts you come across. And for my views to be challenged as well”
— Noel, shares his sentiments after his first book club session with TSBC.
Today, The Saturday Book Club’s vision is to cultivate a vibrant community of individuals who share a deep passion for knowledge and a love for continuous learning. We do that through the monthly book club sessions held on the 3rd Saturdays of the month as well as Author Sessions.
This book club is for people who want to:
Grow – We welcome those who possess an insatiable hunger for personal and intellectual growth. Whether you’re eager to expand your understanding of yourself the world, this book club is for you.
Personalised Learning — If you’re someone who is keen on reading non-fiction books tailored to your own preferences and interests, you’ll find a like-minded community here.
Share — We encourage individuals who are open to vibrant discussions and sharing their insights from the book.
GPS, in short.
Many that have come, have told me repeatedly how this was a community they really appreciated.
Initially, I wondered why. After all, going for a book club didn’t seem to be the majority’s ideas of fun. It might seem like something dull and boring, compared to a night out at a club.
Search for a Community
Then one day, John Lim, one of the attendees who first came to the author session with Nir Eyal, explained it to me.Making friends as an adult is really tough.
Friends from school move on to different seasons of their lives, and you find yourself alone, staring down the barrel of a Saturday morning, and wondering what to do.
If you ask someone out, you might risk being seen as one with an agenda. You either want to date, or you want to sell something.
Unfortunately, this is Singapore. Where we are pragmatic and clear-eyed about humans and their nature.
Now I understand.
“When you come for a book club, you aren’t just there because you want to lecture people about the book you’ve just read. You’re there because you want to learn something. That makes the community humble, open-minded, and curious, which is different from many other communities, where there are clear agendas and objectives.”
“You get conversations that go beneath the surface, into what matters, and what could possibly hurt.
There is No Quitting
Sometimes I do wonder why I put so much effort into this, even though it doesn’t return financially at all. There were times when I wanted to give up, especially when I switched to a new company, with a new role, and had an intense battle to get up to speed, fast.
But stories like Vicki remind me that this book club isn’t just a book club.
At TSBC’s 1st anniversary party, she came after being invited by a friend. She had been struggling with a rare physical health issue. Yet coincidentally, at that party, she found other people who were also like her.
She found camaraderie, and realised she wasn’t alone.
And despite only coming once, she immediately saw value in this community and signed up as a volunteer with the The Saturday Book Club Social Media Team the same day she came for the Anniversary Party..
Building community in Singapore is never easy.
The Saturday Book Club is a book club, but it’s also a community. For people who read, for people who are quiet, and perhaps for the people who find themselves a little different.
Who may have been used to being called the bookworm, or even the nerd, as they were growing up.
Who may have found more understanding in the comfort of a book, over the people who pushed them to the fringe.
Being different isn’t being difficult. Being quiet isn’t being quirky.
Because it’s often in our most jarring difference, that we find our greatest strength.
The Saturday Book Club runs on the Third Saturday of every month. It is next happening on the 18th of November.
You can find out more details here.