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Biting into Books: How to start your own Dietitian Book Club

Irena Forbes is a Food Advocate and loves to learn, taste food and laugh! In another lifetime, she would be a squash! Please email her at

Ever wonder what other DC members think about food books? The DC BC book club shares its experiences and tips to start your own!

A DC book club is a great opportunity to discuss ideas with colleagues about dietetics in an informal environment. It can also provide support from colleagues and forge new relationships. Plus, it’s a great way to commit to your dietetic reading list!

Book topics for the DC BC Book Club are mostly about all areas of dietetic food issues but have also branched out to other topics relating to dietetics such as leadership.

How did it start?
Kristen Yarker began the book club as the DC BC Regional Executive Director. She could see that BC members were looking for more ways to connect with each other in a low-cost “combined social and professional development way”. She was inspired by her “to read” book pile. She thought DC members may have the same pile, with the same guilt – and was right! So, she put out the idea in the regional newsletter and the DC BC Book Club was born!

The reading list so far
  • Dec 2012 to Feb 2013: Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel
  • July 2013: Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss
  • January 2014: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Our next book in April 2014 will be Food Politics (2013 version), by Marion Nestle
When we meet and why
Readers agreed to trial two to three meetings this year. One was in January, one is planned for April before UBC exams and the last will likely be between August and October. This accommodates the voting on a book prior to each meeting, and the time to prepare for the meeting.  It helps if readers decide ahead of time how many books per year to read and the best months for them to meet.

The size of the book club
There is no size too small to start. I email 30 participants about the book club and about 10 readers participate. We have not had an issue with the book club becoming too large. Sometimes there are more people on the teleconference line than in person and this has not been a problem.

The planning process
Prior to the meetings, I correspond with the readers via email, where we decide on the book choice, meeting times and logistics. To keep track of the reading lists and the book club’s informal guidelines we use a Google Document. We are also trialling a Google Document that allows readers to share their thoughts before, during and after the discussion.

Book Club roles
  • Host: The host is chosen after the time of the meeting has been confirmed. Meetings have taken place at home, work, a community room or at a local business. A speaker phone is necessary for the teleconference line.
  • Organizer: The main correspondent for new and current readers.
  • Facilitator: Responsible for leading the discussion.
  • Recorder: Responsible for taking notes and sharing the information will all the book club members.
Tip: Choose two different people as a facilitator and recorder. 

How the book club meeting runs
Each book club often starts with a round of introductions and a question or comment about the book to shape the discussion. This includes input from the google document from readers unable to attend. The facilitator leads the conversation and the recorder captures the discussion. Readers are welcome to use the google document to share quotes and thoughts. The facilitator chooses to close as they wish. This may be final comments about the book, burning final thoughts or even a round of words (such as those captured in the Tadexco/Word Cloud pictured here for the book, Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss). The recorded notes are then shared with the group via email. I also submit an overview of the discussion for the regional e-news.
In Conclusion
I hope this gives you an idea of how our book club is run and some of the great reasons why it might be fun for you and your DC community. I highly recommend any community without a DC book club to start one! If you have any questions this blog post doesn’t answer or if you are part of one that is run differently I would love to hear about it. I am also happy to share our list of book titles, any overview articles or documents you are interested in. If you have any questions please let me know!

  1. Hi Thi!

    Great to have you join! Our next session is April 10th. If that is too soon I can keep you on the email list as we make plans for the next one. I will send you details if you email me at

    Thoughts about Lean in can be found in the BC e-news here: If you have trouble opening it I can send it via email as well.

    Irena, RD
  2. HI Irene

    I recently graduated from the UBC Dietetics Program this past fall.

    I would be interested in joining the book club for the Summer session if it is not too full!

    Also I would love to read about what the book club's thoughts were on "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg's

    Talk soon!
    Thi Bui, RD

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