Seattle Culture

Quiet Time

Silent book clubs pop up across region

By Seattle Mag February 2, 2024

People reading books at the beach

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

What began as a small group of friends in West Seattle has exploded across the Puget Sound region.

Friends Sara Richards, Lisa Fieldson, and Hannah Nieman formed the Silent Book Club West Seattle chapter last year to pursue their love of reading in a fun and casual way. Today, that effort has grown to more than 350 readers who gather across more than 10 neighborhood bars and cafes each month to read together in places including Ballard, Shoreline, Everett, Renton, Burien, and Tacoma.

Silent book clubs started in 2012 in San Francisco when two friends began reading at a neighborhood bar. Silent book clubs differ from traditional book clubs in several ways: Participants can read whatever they like (there are no assigned readings), and everyone reads together. There are no requirements to finish a book, so you don’t have to stress when you realize you need to finish John Grisham’s latest bestseller, The Exchange, in just two days.

The clubs have been half jokingly described as a place for introverts because there is no expectation of social engagement.

“If a person wants to, they can show up and silently read without ever having to engage in a conversation,” says Fieldson, adding that the West Seattle chapter is full of all personality types. “However, there is dedicated time to chat with a fellow book lover if desired.”

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