We all know books are awesome. But what about book clubs?
On that, there's much less agreement.
Some say they never seem to be able to finish the book by the time the group meets, while others have already moved on and forgotten the details. Some love to talk about the characters. Some like to ask deep questions. At least one person has to clean before everyone comes over and then there's deciding what snacks to serve. And for a good many, book club is just an excuse to drink wine.
It's those kinds of pressures that friends Guinevere de la Mare and Laura Gluhanich were discussing one day at a restaurant in San Francisco. They liked the camaraderie but not the stress of finishing the book on time or showing up with something clever to say. So they came up with the idea of a book club for introverts.
Their idea was simple: Meet somewhere and continue reading any book you want. No discussions unless you want them, and no one has to bring snacks.
Silent Book Club was born.
Introvert Happy Hour
"We started Silent Book Club because reading with friends enriches our lives and makes us happy," they say on their website. "We love hearing about what people are reading (often in their other book clubs) and we think it's important to put down our phones and be social. Real, live, breathing-the-same-air social, not hearting-you-on-Instagram social."
Since the idea was launched in 2012, the group has grown to 50,000 members online and more than 180 chapters in 20 countries, according to SFGate.
Members typically meet at a bar, coffee shop or library. Before the designated reading time, they can socialize and chat and order food and drinks if it's that kind of place. Then there's an hour of uninterrupted reading time — of any book they want.
After the hour, people are free to talk about their books, the weather or keep reading. There really are no rules.
"It provides a space for people who want to get out of the house and spend some time with friendly-minded people, but don't want to go through that whole awkward small talk," de la Mare tells SFGate. "You have a book in your hand, so it's really easy to talk about what you're reading. And when you get to that moment of not having anything else to say, it's totally socially acceptable to go back to reading."
The founders call it "Introvert Happy Hour."
"I would say that I'm an introvert who's really good at pretending to be an extrovert for small amounts of time," Mandy Shunnarah, who started a chapter in Columbus, Ohio, tells NPR. "What I like about Silent Book Club is you get the community of a book club but without the homework. So there's less pressure to contribute to one single conversation or to make insightful comments about one particular book. I think it's more of a low-pressure social situation."