I went to a silent reading party… and had a (quiet) blast

File this under “things only a book lover would understand”:

I went to a silent reading party this week, and it was the most fun I’ve had in ages!

What’s not to love? A room full of bookworms (book enthusiasts… book nerds… book freaks… ), drinks all around, silent (but companionable) reading, and raising money for a good cause. I ask you — can you think of a more fun way to spend a Tuesday evening?

(The fact that I can’t says a lot about me, I know.)

So here’s what it’s all about:

Drink, eat, and read. Silently.

Drink, eat, and read. Silently.

Silent Reading Parties started several months ago here in San Francisco, hosted by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and Radio Silence. They’re held on the first Tuesday of each month at a downtown hotel — a hotel with a very stylish “library bar”, which feels cozy and bookish as soon as you step inside. Starting at 6 pm, talking stops and reading begins. And the room remains silent. For an hour and a half, there’s light jazz music playing in the background while 40 or so bookish folks sit and read.

Awesome.

 

Seeing how it’s a bar, there are drinks, of course. There are menu cards on the tables, so you can order drinks and munchies without breaking silence.

And that’s what we did.

I finished the last few chapters of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, while my friend read volume six of Saga, then started on the “Weird Junior Edition” of the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

We read. Drank some wine. Ate some fries. Grooved to the jazzy tunes. And then at 7:30, the silent time was done, and the readers shook themselves out of their trances. Some stayed and schmoozed, some went on their merry ways. And I’d bet that most will be back next month for more.

All this wild and crazy fun, and a good cause too! A portion of the drinks proceeds plus the contents of a fishbowl full of cash (which Lemony Snicket personally handed round for contributions) all go to support the library of one of our local public elementary schools.

reading-4As if I needed any further inducement to sit and read!

My son thinks I’m weird, and wonders why I couldn’t have just sat at home by myself with a book instead of going out to read. But he doesn’t get it… and I bet anyone reading this post absolutely does.

Booklovers are solitary creatures in their pursuit of great reading — but who says we can’t read alone, together?

 

Consider me hooked… and absolutely looking forward to next month’s (sssssh… no talking!) party.

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The joys of a great author event

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending an author event featuring Chris Cleave, author of Incendiary, Little Bee, and most recently, Gold. I drove home afterward in an outstanding mood, because start to finish, the event was delightful.

The author was warm, charming, funny, and intelligent. He read a passage from Gold that takes place relatively early in the narrative, and brought it to life with verve and humor. He talked through his writing process, how he settled on Gold’s subject matter, how he researched it (including subjecting himself to a rigorous bicycle training regimen – a very funny part of his talk), and what he viewed as the central questions of the novel. The author spoke with great insight on the subjects of competition, ambition, and friendship, the drive to be the best at something where in order to success, everyone else has to fail, and the “hidden world” of high-level athletes.

It was simply fascinating. I gained some fresh insights into a book that I’d already read and enjoyed. Questions were welcomed. I asked – rather inarticulately, I’m afraid – about the “win at all costs” mentality that he’d been discussing versus the message so prevalent today that everyone’s a winner, we’re all special! He gave a great answer, both from his perspective as a writer on the subject and as a parent of young children as well.

Simply a great event. So why am I writing about it? Because I came away from it thinking about how, no matter how much we as readers may glean from a book, there’s always more to learn. The best author events, in my opinion, are the ones that go beyond book signings or readings. Hearing an author speak about his or her writing process and motivation, elaborate on the big questions he/she was trying to explore in the book, or how a particular character was conceived, adds exponentially to my enjoyment of the book itself. Just when I think I’ve gotten a book all figured out, I have a new angle to consider!

What author appearances have you attended and enjoyed? Have you ever reconsidered your opinion of a book after hearing the author speak? Does the quality of your interactions with an author affect your views of the book itself? Share your experiences and thoughts, please!