Just shut up and read. That's the premise of a new book club from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's Main Library that launches Jan. 14. Like something out of an introvert's daydreams, the group will meet at Cincinnati spots, pull out whatever book they choose, maybe order a mug of coffee or tea and simply read together… in silence.
"The library is always trying to actively engage with the community and promote all the wonderful books we carry," Adam Vorobok, a fiction librarian at the Main Branch, told me via email. "The Silent Book Club seemed like a great way to attract an introvert-minded audience to participate without having the pressure to speak during a book discussion."
The other benefit, he says, is that Silent Book Club is a social community — but one members can approach at their own pace. After an hour of reading, the last half-hour is open for members to connect, meet one another, swap suggestions and simply hang out. And members aren't limited to just books — bring a newspaper, magazine, comic book or, as Vorobok jokes, "a clay tablet (if you have any)."
There are no rules.
As covered by NPR last August, the idea began with two friends — Guinevere de la Mare and Laura Gluhanich — in 2012. The former told NPR that she wished there was a book club where she could show up with no assigned reading, hang out with friends, talk about what each of them were reading and then simply do just that: read.
Not knowing of such a club, she pitched her idea to Gluhanich and they formed their own. Now Silent Book Club has over 100 chapters across the globe — from London to Denver, Colorado to Delhi, India to Tunis, Tunisia and all the way to Tokyo.
"Sometimes, more than one book club is trying to read the same book in a month and causes a shortage of available reading materials. Other times, books go out of print and cannot be replaced," Vorobok says. "Then, as anyone who has been part of a book club knows, there is just that one book you don’t enjoy reading, but you have to finish it before the deadline and every page just feels like more work than pleasure. Silent Book Club eliminates all of these challenges. Just show up with something to read and that’s it."
Cincinnati's first meeting will unfold Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Over-the-Rhine's Taste of Belgium from 6:30-8 p.m. (Bonus: members receive 15 percent off.) All you need to bring is yourself and something to read in whatever format you prefer — be it physical or digital. Stripped of assigned readings and discussions, the stakes one may feel in a more traditional book club are removed. What's left is a group celebrating the act of reading itself.
If you're interested in joining Cincinnati's chapter, you can join their Facebook group, which is already over 100 members strong.