Friday, February 28, 2020

Swashbooking for crowd-sourced book reviews and fun

Books for review
Usually, I don't go to book clubs or write book reviews. But yesterday evening was different with my first swashbooking session (German: Buchstrudeln). It is fast-paced book skimming and crowd-sourced book review combined. And a lot of fun. So what is it and what really did we do? Read on...


Yesterday, the swashbooking was organized by the Agile Table Bodensee. Everybody was asked to bring at least one book loosely related to agile development, project management, leadership or work organization.

After some warm-up with drinks and pizza, we were ready for the hard work:
  1. Each person picked a book.
  2. We formed teams of 3-4 people.
  3. Thereafter, time-boxed reading / skimming / writing / why-did-I-sign-up-for-this of 9 minutes per book, then switching books for another 9 minutes and again.
  4. As team, we created posters with the combined book review for each of the three books.
  5. Last but not least, we presented our book reviews to the group.
Four swashbooking reviews
What followed were some good discussions of the books and also the review results. It was interesting to see that the quick reviews aligned with feedback from those of us who had read the entire book. Some of us, myself included, brought a book we had trouble reading through or we had given low reviews. It was fun to see that others struggled, too. But most books were shared as recommendation to others and everyone got new insights from the crowd reading.


Reading books time-boxed as team is fun and offers a new approach on how to assess new "stuff". The methology behind swashbooking can be applied to other reading material like (online) product documentation, websites or online services. It was interesting to see how closely results from quick reviews and after really reading through the book aligned. And again, it was fun and could be used for a teaming session.

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