Nir Eyal, the bestselling author behind Hooked, which helped tech products create more addictive products; and Indistractable, which ironically helped people to build a better relationship with tech.
And then there was Jia Li, the founder of The Saturday Book Club (TSBC), who went up to say something incredibly funny.
The principles of TSBC
Like how TSBC was structured around the GPS – no, not the GPS you use to find where the stupid Newton Hawker Centre you were told to meet at was; but
1. Growth – they only discuss non fiction books
2. Personal – you choose the book you want to talk about
3. Self-directed – you go how many times, or how many little times you want to go for
She was just trying to draw a link between those values and GPS.
Laughs from the crowd.
Go to most book clubs, and they are not like that.
Rather, they tend to be a gathering of older people in their 60s. I’ve gone for some of these, and they tend to end up griping about issues like politics, or the economy, or how their eggs are now so expensive.
Yes, that’s important, but that’s not really why I went for a book club.
Other book clubs I’ve gone for have died a quick death.
But this book club is different.
Jia Li started this 14 months ago, in a small cafe gathering of 4 people. She had been reading many books over the pandemic, and wanted an opportunity to share the lessons with others.
She shared this on her book-stagram account, and strangely, others concurred.
Since then, it’s grown to a regular meeting size of around 20 people.
Every third Saturday of the month, at an ungodly time like 1030am, they gather in a library.
Each member shares for 15 minutes around 3 questions on a non-fiction book of their choice.
And for the most part, it works.
They aren’t trying to sell you anything.
Nor are they asking you to pay any fees.
Nor are they having some secret tie-ups with government agencies looking to hit their KPIs. They do receive some funding in-kind from the National Library Board to run the book club at libraries, with free venues, but the rest is volunteer-run.
That’s the sheer beauty of it.
What’s the interaction like?
On Saturday, I met a German who was working within the logistics space. Having moved to Singapore, he had been looking for book clubs for some time.
But he found that most were with older people. And he wanted a way to share about the non-fiction books they read.
This is an intellectual crowd.
Amongst the questions from the audience to Nir were:
1. How do you deal with the social expectations around reply rates?
2. How do you work with to-do lists that tend to be propagated by companies?
Make better friends here
If you find yourself finding it difficult with other friends who want to talk about their nails (okay maybe not just their nails but other things like their holidays), this might just be up your alley.
One of the strangest things I’ve found in Singapore is just how difficult it is to find deeper, reflective, and more introspective people. Maybe it just isn’t in Singapore.
But having lived in places like Peru, England, China, I’ve found that most younger adults tend to spend most of their lives following social media, and living some semblance of the lives that do seem to matter over social media (cue the fancy holidays, nice food, and great beach photos).
It is hard if you’re a deeper thinker, who enjoys reflecting more about life, and how life can generally be improved.
Go to TSBC. You might just be surprised.