Have you been tempted to join a book club, but don’t feel drawn to the book that’s assigned? Or maybe you consider yourself a “slower than most” reader? Often with these traditional book clubs, there's the scramble to finish the assigned book accompanied by the pressure to have something intellectual to say during discussion.
The idea is simple… immerse yourself in your book of choice, and in the company of others. Gather in person and online to read together in quiet camaraderie. Come on your own or bring a friend!
Where It Began
Guinevere de la Mare and Laura Gluhanich are the cofounders of Silent Book Club (SBC) and started it in 2012. This brilliant idea has caught like wildfire. SBC is now a global community of readers, hosted in 300+ cities around the world and online, and led by local volunteers and businesses.
But the history of Silent Book Club’s presence in Seattle started a few years earlier. Christopher Frizzelle, founder of FrizzLit, a vivid community of writers and thinkers, started the Silent Reading Party in 2009, then morphed it into the Quarantine Book Club in 2020 to build and maintain community during the pandemic. Now the in-person gathering is back at Hotel Sorrento in the cozy Fireside Room with live music, where it all began. If you want to attend SBC at Hotel Sorrento, be aware it requires a ticket purchase because you get to reserve your choice of seating, from a barstool, a chair by the fire (most popular), to a love seat for two.
As an affordable option, for those of you in Seattle or nearby the city, grab your books (or Kindles) and mark your calendars for one weeknight every month in Everett, West Seattle, South Sound, Shoreline, and newly Ballard.
What to Expect
I was able to go to Ballard’s opening night at Urban Family Brewing by myself and it was a magical experience. I didn’t need to RSVP beforehand, but I did show up 15 minutes early in anticipation of the launch night being crowded. Each location has different accommodations and requirements, and will usually post details on their social media accounts so you can best prepare.
At the start of the evening, you’ll arrive and depending on the location, a host will either help you find a cozy spot that suits your needs, or direct to you to the reserved area for SBC. Grab a comforting beverage or delicious bite, which helps support the business that’s hosting the event. I got myself a can of Urban Family’s Casual Peacocks IPA and settled in at a shared table.
For the first half hour, you have the option to connect with yourself, or connect with fellow readers. Most tables will have a myriad of humans; this is what creates the magic of book club. There’s a collective desire to get lost in a book in the comforting presence of others enjoying the same activity, in an inviting atmosphere. Conversations will flow, usually about what everyone is reading, which is a great way to build your “must read” list!
Then it’s time to read! One hour is reserved for uninterrupted, distraction-free reading (be mindful that the business is still open for other patrons, so it won’t be completely silent). The evening will conclude with one more half hour to finish up your chapter, take book stack pictures, and share any lingering thoughts with people you just met, or friends that tagged along with you.
How to Start Your Own SBC
Silent Book Club ethos is all about community. Everyone is welcome, and anyone can join or launch a chapter. The cofounders of Silent Book Club encourage the growth of this phenomenon.
Want to start a SBC chapter closer to you? All you need is a friend, a restaurant, bar, or café, and a book. This is how you get started. Reading stories that captivate us — with old and new friends — enriches our lives. Watch your community grow.
Looking for more bookstores in Seattle? Check out some of our other articles to learn more!
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