Are you still reading books?

readingFunny question, I guess. I have always been an avid reader and I think I have read one book per month probably since I was 10 or 12. During family holidays, my parents had to stop me from finishing all my books in the first few days, so I would still have one or two left for the second week of the trip. I still do, it is just a habit at this stage. Leave me in a bookstore or a library for any length of time and I am sure I can find something that will peak my interest or curiosity. Anytime I am interested in a new topic, I will find books related to the field and start diving into it. Convenience has become a major consideration, I used to haul physical books around and still buy them on occasion, but regular moving to different countries definitely put limits on my personal library. In fact, it hurts to say this, but some of my books from my last move are still in storage because we don’t have enough shelf space and it’s a bit of a contentious issue in our house.

With services such as Kindle, I am able to carry my library on the move, which is great for travelling. I also use audible to listen to books when I walk or work out and sometimes when I am doing very process driven work. When the books are really great, and fabulous for reference, I may still buy them after in their physical version.

I know that a lot of leaders are big readers. Fun side fact, years ago I met a motivational speaker called Charlie ‘Tremendous” Jones and he made a song with that title leaders are readers. Although he might have been looking to sell his books at the time, it definitely stuck with me. How you consume books these days is so multi-faceted that it has been made easy for all preferred styles to find a way to consume a book.

Why on earth is this relevant to gamification, you may be asking?

Well for two reasons, in fact, the online reading and listening apps allow for some basic progress tracking. Such as how many hours are left in the book. In the physical book, it was obvious to see the number of pages and you can close them with your bookmarker left in place to see roughly what percentage is left. I may be totally nerdy here, but I like to know this, especially for books that I like or don’t like. The really great fiction novels, when the story is great enough will find me hitting the last page before I notice any numbering, but for non-fiction, I find it a must-have.

For me, reading fiction is purely for entertainment, so I tend to do it when I am on holidays. Non-fiction gives me similar pleasure but takes more mental effort to stay with the flow of a book, because I also want to remember some of the concepts or make sense of what is being said. I also learned to speedread a while back and when I don’t like non-fiction books, they get the speedread treatment, otherwise snail pace is perfectly fine. So for me, that little progression tracker has a clear function and I wonder if that is the same for others?

Secondly, in learning related gamification we are often asked how people can include books as part of tracking their learning. Most business leaders I have come across, read business books and magazines regularly in some format or other. Summary services have been popular and are frequently linked to learning management systems in large organisations. I used to have a private subscription to a summary service, to find books I wanted to read in full. I personally believe, that having books as part of documented learning is a good thing. It would mean that if you can write a book review or recommendation for the book that you add proof of completion as such, a little bit like ranking a course would serve as a sign of completion. The true proof of learning is then in the desire to put the concepts you read about into practice and testing how they work for you in real life, which is similar to courses. Do you include books and magazines in learning gamification as a method of acquiring knowledge?

In one learning gamification project, we encouraged the leader who was a regular travelling reader to publish a short note about the books he was reading on the fly in their internal knowledge sharing system. I can say from talking to the team after implementation that it drove others to seek out those books at all levels in the organisation, so they could understand their big boss better. As part of creating a learning and sharing culture, it could be an easy start even without any other learning content.


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