Book Love

How to Start a Silent Book Club

Guinevere de la Mare, founder of Silent Book Club and author of I’d Rather be Reading, shares tips on how to create a reading community of your own. 

Like countless other good ideas, Silent Book Club was born on the back of a proverbial cocktail napkin. My friend Laura and I were at a neighborhood French bistro having a glass of wine one evening back in 2012, and I was complaining about a book club I was in at the time. I can’t remember what the assigned book was, but it was something that I had no interest in reading. I had been slogging through it, and I needed to cram to finish it in time for the meeting that was rapidly approaching.

I felt an intense pressure, self-inflicted as it was, to have something insightful to contribute to the conversation, and I was feeling grouchy about it. “I want a book club where there’s no assigned reading, where you can bring whatever book you want, and you can just sit and read it and not have to talk about it,” I ranted. “A silent book club.”

Better yet, I wanted to have this book club at a bar so that I could order a cocktail and read and not have to clean my house or make a Pinterest-worthy appetizer platter. Laura, a seriously motivated and whip-smart lady who is also an avid reader, was like, “I’m in. Let’s do this.”

Silent Book Club is happy hour for introverts. Once a month in more than 40 cities around the world, groups of readers gather in bars, cafés, libraries, bookstores, and restaurants. They turn off their devices, order drinks, share book recommendations, and then settle in for a quiet evening of reading.

I'd Rather be Reading- Mike CasalArt from I’d Rather be Reading by Mikel Casal 

It’s a guilt-free way to block out time in your schedule to do nothing but read. It’s the gift of stepping away from the computer and the god-awful news for a couple of hours to simply relax with a book. When I started the club as a working mother with a small child, it was the only time I had to myself when I could finish a chapter without the laundry beckoning, little hands smearing snot in my hair, or my husband wanting to talk to me when all I wanted to do was read. Or sleep.

Until I became a mother, I had been defined by my love of books. I was a writer, I worked in publishing, my bookshelves spilled over into every room in the house. But after my son was born, I was overwhelmed with full-time work, motherhood, and the insane grind of life in the most expensive city in Silicon Valley. I lost myself as a reader.

By scheduling a night out on the town to read with friends, I multi-tasked my way back to happiness. Silent Book Club gave me just enough socializing in real life to feel connected to humanity again. An introvert by nature, I’m not a big fan of social gatherings and small talk, especially with strangers. But the beauty of Silent Book Club is that you have a built-in conversation topic, and before you run out of things to say, it’s time to quiet down and read. It’s an introvert’s dream. Because wouldn’t we all rather be reading?

I'd Rather be Reading- Courtney CerrutiArt from I’d Rather be Reading by Courtney Cerruti

How to Start a Silent Book Club

1. Find a venue.

The best venues for hosting Silent Book Club have a few things in common: they have comfortable seating, they’re not loud, and they have enough light to read. Snacks are always a good idea, wine is optional.

2. Invite a few friends.

It doesn’t have to be a big group. Three people quietly reading books together in public is already a revolution. Grab a friend and start there.

3. Choose a recurring night and time.

By scheduling a monthly meetup, you can keep up your reading momentum and top off your TBR list with recommendations from friends.

You can find upcoming events here or start your own Silent Book Club. Just put down your phone and pick up a book. Then read, wine, repeat.

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Featured image from I’d Rather be Reading by Julia Rothman, adapted from this original:

Julia Rothman

Guinevere de la Mare

Guinevere de la Mare

Guinevere de la Mare is a writer, book lover, and the founder of Silent Book Club. She lives in San Francisco. She also was the senior community manager at Chronicle Books from 2009-2014.
Guinevere de la Mare

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1 Comment

  • J. Hall August 25, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Your Silent Book Club is one I would join! Unfortunately, I am so much an introvert, I could not bear to put myself “out there” to start one of my own. One of the sad downsides of being an introvert. Can’t wait to read your book!


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