Building a Book Club Community

Ben Keene
Ben Keene
Jun 25 · 4 min read

Written by RBC’s Happy Reading Officer, Albert Kurniadi

Long-term RBC members taking a moment our of their Moroccan adventure to catch up on their reading.

Sunday night. It’s 9pm and I’m sitting down at a cafe In Vancouver, Canada having just finished power hour for this month’s book ‘All The Ghosts In The Machine’.

It’s very fitting that we are reading a book written by one of our members as we celebrate Rebel Book Club’s fourth birthday this month. This member-author spotlight is one example of how the club has grown from a group of friends and colleagues to a community of all sorts of content creators. And thanks to both Bens, I have been lucky enough to help look after you all for the past three and a half years. It goes without saying that RBC wouldn’t be the vibrant book club it is today (or even exist for that matter) if it weren’t for our curious, passionate and dedicated members.

All about the cocktails

Our members have taken the club on a journey that I did not imagine we would go on when I first joined the club six months or so after its launch with 20 something members and even a smaller meetup. Four years later, we are 550+ members strong in five different cities and growing. And as some of you will testify, I haven’t managed to introduce myself to every single person!

A ladle of rum for our first meetup May 2015 on the Virgin HQ Rooftop for ‘Happiness by Design’

But what an adventure it has been for us all these past four years. We’ve travelled far and wide, from all parts of London (including the TEDx stage) to the sandy dunes of the Sahara Dessert, and the cold waters of the Swedish Archipelago. Our mini library of books have taken us from the streets of Tehran to the neural circuit of our brain, and everything in between. Some of our members have even been brave enough to launch RBC in the respective cities they now call home, adding more voices to the club and growing the RBC community to record numbers.

In conversation with Seth Godin in December 2018

We may have moved on from our good ol’ days as a tight knit family, and while we may not be as intimate of a club these days (with new faces continuously popping up at every meet-up, and attendance at an all time high), the quality of our members and their passion for books and for life is just as strong. You only have to look at the micro groups being established within the club and you will still find that the intimacy and bond between our members is still very much there. We now have so many incredibly driven, talented, creative individuals and our members inspire, motivate and support the hell out of each other more so than ever before.

‘Just Eat It’ Feb 2019

And through all these changes, we have been lucky enough to see our members flourish and evolve. The books have guided you through major forks in the road, inspired you to reinvent yourself, and cheered you up post difficult breakups and losses. We are grateful to every single one of you who have been open and trusting enough to make RBC a part of your life’s journey, making the club a much richer experience for it.

I took a sip of my matcha latte and stared out the window. To my surprise, an ex RBC London member walks in and we greeted each other. One of our most bubbly member, she moved to Vancouver a while back (as a result of meeting people in RBC who put the idea in her head and eventually persuaded her to make the big move) and has always been keen to start RBC here. We discuss details and feasibility over some food, and a keen eavesdropper politely butts in and informed us what an awesome sounding club we are and that he’ll be keen to help out if we ever decide to start a club here. We pull him into our conversation and I watch my friend and this stranger bond over all things RBC. And so, some 4,706 miles away from London, another RBC community might have just been born.

‘Books that have changed us’ swap at All Birds
Ben Keene

Written by

Ben Keene

Tribe Building > @RebelBookClub @thnkschool @theearthmakers @VirginStartUp http://benkeene.com