The Scoop: Silent Book Club (SBC) can open the door to fantastical adventures and star-crossed romances by allowing readers to follow their hearts. This unique organization hosts in-person and virtual meetings where members gather to read their preferred books and have a friendly chat. Silent Book Club currently has 240 active chapters worldwide, and couples can bookmark its upcoming events to enjoy a socially distant date night with their favorite page turner.
My boyfriend and I are avid readers, but we don’t share similar tastes in books. Our combined library is a hodgepodge of dragons, wizards, and fairies mingling with spaceships, aliens, and soldiers, and it’s hard to find literary common ground when he’s a little bit sci-fi and I’m a little fantasy.
While under lockdown in 2020, we both took refuge in literature and endeavored to share books to liven up our date nights at home. However, we could never get on the same page about what types of books to add to our reading list.
My boyfriend and I ended up going our separate literary ways, but we made a habit of reading our books side by side on the couch. In doing so, we unwittingly created our own private Silent Book Club.
Silent Book Club has inspired a global community to sit down and read together — without the burden of staying within niche genres or required book lists. SBC members can read anything they want during the meeting’s dedicated reading time, and they can share their passion for literature on their terms.
Silent Book Club has developed an ingenious solution to help booklovers across genres come together and form new friendships and relationships. Attendees do not have to read the same books to enjoy shared reading experiences. SBC members meet for the pleasure of reading in another person’s company and talking about books.
The first Silent Book Club started in 2012 in San Francisco when a group of friends organized quiet reading sessions and chats at a neighborhood bar. The idea grew through word of mouth, and it soon captured introverted people’s imaginations and hearts .
Thanks to Silent Book Club, singles and couples have the chance to meet fellow book lovers without bothering with reading assignments or deadlines. They can grab any book they like, join a meeting, and savor moments of intelligent conversation and companionable silence. Sounds like a great date activity to me!
Hosting Quiet Happy Hours That Suit Local Bookworms
Silent Book Club is a group formed by introverts for introverts. It has taken the typically solo activity of reading a book and put it in a group setting. Today, Silent Book Club has over 240 active chapters in big cities and small towns throughout the world, and it has particularly taken hold in the U.S. and Europe.
If an SBC chapter doesn’t exist in your area, don’t fret about it — many chapters host virtual meetings, which are open to anyone online, and you can always start a local chapter to inspire a community of readers to come together. All you need to start an SBC chapter is a friend, a book, and a place to meet.
Silent Book Club chapters have long met at local bookstores, cafés, and bars, but the coronavirus pandemic caused some chapters to shift to virtual or outdoor meetings. Silent Book Club turns reading into a social activity and gives members the chance to sit quietly with a book in a public park or on a Zoom call and enjoy the company of like-minded people.
In 2019, Vanessa Algotsson started a Silent Book Club chapter in Southern California and spread the word about its events through Facebook and Instagram. She describes the group as a “book club for people who don’t like book clubs.”
At first, the chapter met once a month in person at coffee shops and pubs in Pasadena. Today, the organizers host regular online meetings with members from Philadelphia, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and even England and Colombia in attendance.
“Now, it’s a much more mixed group,” Vanessa said. “Our members range in age from college students to retirees.”
Silent Book Club recommends that new chapters have at least two hosts to ensure the events get off the ground. Starting a SBC chapter can be a perfect pandemic project for couples looking for social distanced date activities.
Share Your Passions & Tackle Your Reading List
The name Silent Book Club may lead some newcomers to think talking isn’t allowed during club meetings, but that’s not the case at all. The event organizers typically reserve some time at the beginning and the end of the meeting to chat about favorite books, current reading goals, and other general topics.
Once the reading hour begins, silence falls upon the group as they dive into their own books. If they’re on a Zoom call, members typically mute themselves so as not to disturb each other with ambient noise.
Silent Book Club members can read at their own pace, and there isn’t any pressure to read a certain genre or author. As long as you’re enjoying your book, that’s all that matters.
Vanessa said joining Silent Book Club can give readers the opportunity to talk about the books they love and discover new stories recommended by people with different tastes and perspectives.
“Because our members can be partial to different genres, you always come away with great book recommendations that you might not have heard of before,” Vanessa said. “Quite a few of us have ventured into the world of fantasy, thanks to other members who gave rave reviews of certain authors.”
Couples who enjoy reading together can take part in a Silent Book Club meeting to broaden their literary horizons without leaving their comfort zone. It’s an affordable and socially distanced date activity that meets readers where they’re at and gives them the space to start a new chapter while surrounded by new friends.
“What I love the most about the Silent Book Club concept is that it’s a fun place for book lovers who love talking about books — but don’t love the restrictive nature of most book clubs,” Vanessa said. “It’s a great way to spend a quiet afternoon at home, together with friends, but not too together.”
Silent Book Club Sparks Connections in the Literary World
If you want to connect with another person, you don’t necessarily have to read the same books or hold the same opinions. You just have to spend time together and listen as new stories unfold. My boyfriend and I improved our date nights by accepting each other’s reading habits and allowing two different worlds to coexist on the same shelf.
Silent Book Club members aren’t out to change one another’s reading tastes or make book list suggestions. These readers simply love reading and want to share their experiences with people who have different experiences and preferences. These virtual and in-person meetings give individuals and couples a space where they can discuss books, read books, and celebrate books in a spirit of camaraderie.
“Silent Book Club is about community,” Vanessa told us. “Everyone is welcome, and anyone can join or launch a chapter. We encourage people all over the world to start their own Silent Book Clubs.”