Silent Book Club: Events for (Noisy!) Book Lovers

  • By Liza Achilles
  • July 15, 2019

An innovative trend brings together individualistic readers.


Ask a random person in the DC area whether they’ve heard of Silent Book Club, and they’re likely to say no. I’d love to change that, because Silent Book Club is an exciting new trend that offers many benefits over traditional book clubs.

Don’t get me wrong — traditional clubs are great, and many people love them. They’re just not for me.

You see, I’m picky and individualistic about what I read, and it’s hard to justify spending five to 15 hours with a book I’m not excited about. Joining a traditional club forces you to regularly read books chosen by others.

Moreover, traditional clubs require you to read on a schedule. But I’m also picky about when I read. Sometimes, I speed through books; other times, I don’t. And that’s the way I like it.

But when I gave up on traditional book clubs about a decade ago, I missed the camaraderie of enjoying a drink and a bite to eat with friends who also like to read. I also missed the intellectual discussions and the opportunity to make new friends.

The great thing about Silent Book Club is that it retains all the aspects of traditional clubs that I adore (the camaraderie, food and drinks, and discussions), while tossing out the aspects I don’t (those that feel like school).

So, what is Silent Book Club? It’s a simple concept. At a Silent Book Club event, friends gather to read books quietly, eat and drink, and talk about books and other topics.

Attendees bring whatever they’re currently reading. It can be a physical book, e-book, or other type of reading material, such as a magazine. At a typical event, attendees spend 30 to 45 minutes talking about what they’re reading — or about anything under the sun. Next, they read silently for 30 to 60 minutes. Finally, they spend another 30 to 45 minutes chatting.

All the while, they enjoy food and beverages as desired.

I’ve been hosting a Silent Book Club chapter for two-and-a-half years. I’ve met some of my best friends through my chapter, and I continually make new friends there. Our club is a funhouse for introverts who enjoy their quiet time, but who also like laughter and interesting conversation.

Silent Book Club began in 2012, when two friends started reading together in companionable silence at their local hangout in San Francisco. They took this unassuming idea and turned it into an international organization that now boasts dozens of chapters around the world.

The DC area offers several Silent Book Club chapters. So, the next time you’re looking for an engaging social event, grab whatever you’re reading and pop into a meeting. You just might be inspired to tell all your friends.

Liza Achilles is a writer and Silent Book Club organizer in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs about seeking wisdom through books and elsewhere at lizaachilles.com.

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