Niyo Book Club
Connecting employees with a love of reading
Books have the power to teleport us to worlds beyond our own. Turns out, they can also bring worlds together.
Niyoites come from lots of different backgrounds and so, naturally, our interests are different. Interacting with each other through the Niyo Book Club helps us get exposure to what others are interested in and gives team members the opportunity to structure and guide a fun discussion. More so, with all of us working from home, this has helped us connect with our colleagues, bringing in a sense of belonging through a close-knit group that shares similar interests.
Why the Book Club?
The Book Club was conceptualized by Apeksha Atal, Niyo’s Group HR Manager, who shared her thoughts about how this activity has shaped up over the months and the impact it is making:
“Before the Content Team was officially founded, we used to have interns, all of whom worked remotely. One way we tried to connect was through sharing book recommendations with one another and talking about what made them so interesting. The idea for book club was born once the Content Team was more established, and we had more time to get to know each other and share our interests.
The primary motivation behind the activity, and making it a structured, regular occurrence, was to ensure that, as writers, we were being exposed to new kinds of writing. This also gave us a chance to think critically and practice leading a discussion. However, at its heart, Book Club is about connecting with fellow readers and having a great conversation about something creative and interesting.”
With the pandemic at large, members of Team Niyo were eagerly searching for opportunities to connect on subjects outside of their regular workload, to get to know other team members better. Books, of course, are not an isolated area of interest for Niyo’s writers, and thus the Book Club seemed like a great event to invite the larger team in. The Content Team thus took it upon themselves to bridge the gap between the busy work schedules of Niyoites and the world of books.
The book club is now open to everyone across the company to join irrespective of whether they’re an avid reader or someone who is trying to catch up on some reading. We’re also open for those who want to jump onto the reading bandwagon but aren’t sure where to get started. The book club started off with three members and within a span of five months, has grown manifold, with many more varieties of stories to read from different genres handpicked by our members.
Bringing fellow readers together
Each month, book club members take turns selecting a reading piece for the group. The reading piece could be any form of writing, such as a short story, poem, article, or an excerpt from a book that is accessible online, quick and interesting to read. Most of our members seem to be fascinated by short stories.
We meet to discuss the selected piece around the end of every month and have a great time walking through what we liked, what we didn’t like, what we learned, and if there are any aspects of writing that we’d like to incorporate into our personal writing style. Sometimes, we like to wear our writer’s hats and share our thoughts about how it could’ve ended differently or how the story could develop further.
Each month, whoever chooses the reading piece gets to guide the discussion — which is a great way for them to both talk the team through why they selected said piece, and also to practice planning and leading a discussion! This helps individuals build discussion and speaking skills in a fun and informal setting.
Savitri Bobde, Head of User Research and Operations at Niyo is amongst the newest members to join the book club. Here’s what she has to say about the whole experience:
“I have always loved reading books and discussing characters, and plots. Of late, I had stopped reading as much. I saw the book club as a good opportunity to get back to reading and discussing. It gives a shared context to discuss and listen to new and different points of view. That’s always fun and helps look at the world through different lenses. I’ve just attended one session which was the perfect mix of structured and unstructured conversation.”
So far, we’ve had the opportunity to discuss “The Old Man in the Piazza” by Salman Rushdie, “Papa’s Letters” by Vikram Kapur, “The Clown Room” by C.J.Green, “The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry, “All the Troubles of the World” by Issac Asimov, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Sredni Vashtar” by H H Munro, “Birthday Girl” by Harumi Murakami, and “The Torment of Three Sleepwalkers” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Each one of these stories is set in a different era and the most exciting part is the unique writing style of all these authors.
Ojas Patil, Product Manager — NiyoX hosted the June book club and here’s what he shared about his experience discussing “All the Troubles of the World” by Issac Asimov with the group:
“It was really fun to host last month’s book club discussion. The discussion started off with each of us sharing what we thought about the piece, and eventually devolved into dystopian robotic societies and privacy issues. So, all in all, my type of discussion! It’s interesting to see how each host brings their own flavour with their choice of book and discussion points. I’m definitely looking forward to the future meetings (hopefully with more and more attendees).”
The book club has been a great opportunity for us to get to know each other, share perspectives and broaden our horizons. It’s turned a catchup activity into a company-wide connection opportunity, and the more people we bring in, the greater variety of work we get to explore!
While we get exposed to a lot of cool writing through our team members, we’re always looking for more recommendations, so do share your latest reads with us! We’d love to add them to our reading list.
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