#15: Introducing the Book Walk

A professional’s guide to unleashing your inner book worm

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It was September 24th, 2018: my first day at Civilla.

After some initial onboarding, Adam handed me three books: One From Many by Dee Hock, Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, and Never Use Futura by Douglas Thomas – a few good reads (among many) that have had an influence on members of the Civilla team. “Read these,” he suggested. 

While I love to read, I’m also a slow reader. But I was determined to tackle this first assignment in a timely matter. The question was: how? 

I turned to a friend for advice. She works at a bookstore and loves books more than anyone I know. She had to have some tips, right?

Wrong.

Instead of providing me with advice on now to quicken my pace, she reframed the challenge: “It’s more about building a reading habit than the speed at which you read,” she said. 

As she shared this point of view, she mentioned that she too was trying to build a new habit; she wanted to build more time for exercise into her day.

And so the Book Walk began. The Book Walk is a weekly time we set aside to walk together and talk about the books we’re reading. Unlike a traditional book club, we each share whatever we’re reading (or listening to) at the time–from chapters of a book to articles to podcasts. 

Soon after the Book Walk began, I finished the books Adam had suggested. Not only was I surprised at how quickly I finished them, but the act of walking and talking about them helped the lessons stick. I haven't stopped reading since.

If you, like many of us here at Civilla, love to learn but can’t seem to find enough time to read, the Book Walk may be just what you’re looking for. Here’s how to start your own…

Why start a Book Walk

  1. They are a fun, healthy way to start the day. Each week, through sunshine, rain, sleet or snow our group of Book Walkers has trudged through the streets of Detroit, coffee in hand, taking turns sharing what we’re reading. No matter how difficult it can sometimes be to get out of bed, we all leave the Book Walk feeling energized and ready for the day.

  2. The conversation helps solidify learning. Reading words is one thing, but engaging with the content of a book is another. By walking and talking together, the Book Walk has challenged me to think more deeply about each book I read. I often find myself applying the lessons from these sessions to my work and life.

  3. They provide a trusted source for recommendations. Hearing what others are reading, learning, and loving about their own books is a perfect way to find a new recommendation. Once someone finishes a book, it often gets passed around to others in the group.

How to start a Book Walk

  1. Start small. Reach out to a friend or a coworker who might be interested and invite them to participate.

  2. Select a day, time, and location to meet each week. We usually meet on Fridays at 8 am at a coffee shop near our work. When we started, we selected a different coffee shop each week but found that selecting one simplified planning and logistics. 

  3. Encourage each Book Walker to select a book they’re excited to read. Unlike a traditional book club, we all read different books. Doing so allows us to follow our curiosity and select books that peak our interests. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to get through a book just because it’s assigned.

  4. Keep it up. Consistency is the name of the game. Don’t be a fair weather walker! Dress for the elements and remember that although habits take time to build, they’re always worth the effort.

Since the fateful day when the Book Walk began, it has become a beloved tradition and our group has continued to grow. Some weeks we have chapters to share, other times we just have pages, but each time the conversation provokes my thinking.

So what are you waiting for? Find a friend and start walking.

- Rachel + the team



Adam Selzer