Silent book club – looking for time to companionably read together


How did it go?

The inspiration started here … and then it came up in conversation with some neighbourhood friends this summer after a lovely yoga-in-the-park class. We’re now starting to organize our first silent book club get-together at a neighbourhood coffee shop. We’ve scheduled it for early November, when the weather’s getting cooler and folks might be seeking cozier indoor pursuits, still coupled with an excuse to get out of the house and get out and about in the neighbourhood.

As the description at the link above reinforces, a silent book club is a completely no-pressure version of the traditional book club. The idea is that people still gather with books, and do so at a local cafe, watering hole, restaurant or the like, but …

  1. Everyone shows up with their own book or books, whatever they’re reading at the moment or want to start reading.
  2. At the start of the silent book club, you do a quick survey around the table so everyone can introduce themselves and speak briefly about what they’re reading.
  3. Once the introductions are done and refreshments are ordered and in place, everyone puts their noses in their books and reads – for an hour.
  4. When the hour is up, folks can stick around to chat about their books or whatever, or they can be on their way. No pressure!

I recently heard an item on CBC Radio about something called The Loneliness Project. In my mind, the plight of contributors to the project connected with the reference on that Silent Book Club web page to “introvert happy hour”. I certainly don’t want to downplay or oversimplify why people are lonely and how difficult it is to remedy that … but maybe little gatherings like this are a modest possibility.

I’m guessing you come away from a silent book club gathering having enjoyed some quiet fellowship and perhaps having picked up some leads on future good reads. If you hold the gathering in a neighbourhood establishment, you’re helping support your local businesses while you’re at it. Well, this is my humble hope as we anticipate our first gathering. I’ll be sure to report back.

How did it go?

Splendidly! We held our first silent book club meeting on November 4th at local cafe Press Books Coffee Vinyl. Four of us gathered with books in hand – three reading paper books, one reading on iPad and phone. We settled in by the front window with coffees and chai lattes. We not only discussed the books we were planning to read during the upcoming silent reading hour, but other books we’d read recently. We all compiled lists of recommendations and ideas. And then we got to it, engrossed in our reading for the next hour while other cafe customers wandered in and out, the cafe’s resident dog trotted about and the Tragically Hip’s Phantom Power played in the background. The hour went quickly. I felt I’d gobbled great chunks of the novel and poetry collection I brought along.

We’ve already made a date for our next silent book club meeting, in about a month. I can’t wait for what I know will feel like an oasis of calm and thought, just as it did today.

Here are the books the members our silent book club meeting read and/or discussed today:

No TV For Woodpeckers by Gary Barwin
Bella by Terri Favro, illustrated by Ron Edding
In the Cage by Kevin Hardcastle
Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

See also:

Sustained silent reading (Wikipedia) – thank you, Gary Barwin!

4 thoughts on “Silent book club – looking for time to companionably read together

  1. theresa

    What a nice thing to do. I often think that I am in a silent reading arrangement (haven’t thought of it as a club, exactly) when I look over at my husband reading beside me in bed. He is usually reading the latest issue of Harpers or the New Yorker, reading every article and sidebar, and I’m usually reading from a stack of 6 or 8 books. I often watch him — his lips move when he reads and he once wrote an essay called “Slow Reader” for an anthology on writers and reading — and I’ll say, before we turn out our bedside lamps, “Tell me what you read tonight.” He offers the most succinct and interesting precis. And I’ll tell him about the novel or historical text (or field guide or, or, or…) that I’m reading. No pressure to be lively or on topic (I hated the one book club we belonged to briefly because the other members wanted it to be focused and organized around specific questions) but more to be companions in reading. As we are in life, in writing, in parent and grandparent-hood.

  2. Valika

    This sounds lovely. I would love to be a part of this so that I can resume reading as avidly as I used to. Where is the said “hangout?

    1. bookgaga Post author

      Valika, our first gathering is being held at the Press Cafe at Danforth & Westlake in Toronto on Saturday, November 4th at 10 am. If that is not convenient for you, I hope you’ll consider taking these ideas and maybe organizing one in your neighbourhood. Certainly, I’ll report back about how ours turns out.


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