Literature is home to a host of unforgettable parties, from Gatsby’s all-night blowouts to the Crazy Rich wedding of the century. But while readers enjoy getting a glimpse into these lavish events, they often crave something quite different for themselves. Celebrate the start of sweater season with a cozy silent reading party for your book club that caters to your members’ favorite things: curling up with a good book and reading quietly.
What is a silent reading party?
A silent reading party is exactly what it sounds like. Readers gather in a home or a bar with books in hand. They mingle for a short while and then get down to the business of reading. The evening is spent with guests lost in their books, and it ends with a little time for everyone to mingle once more and talk about what they were reading.
Adapting the party for your book club
There are two timing factors to consider when planning a silent reading party for your book club. First, how will it fit into your regular schedule? We recommend planning your party between book club meetings. We know you’re all counting down the days until your gatherings anyway, and this will be a fun way to see your fellow readers before your next discussion.
Second, how long should your party last? We recommend two hours for the entire event: 30 minutes to mingle when everyone arrives (when readers can share the books they brought), an hour for silent reading (with a five-minute warning before the end so readers can wrap up), and 30 minutes at the end for everyone to discuss what they read.
What are we reading?
This is where things get fun. As a book club, you have a lot of options.
Read your current selection
Did your club recently select a new book? Encourage members to dive right in! This also provides your group with the unique opportunity to talk about first impressions once the reading portion of the party is over.
Blind date with a book
Ask every member to bring a book they love. At the beginning of the meeting, pile the books together on a table and have each member select a book they didn’t bring. This is a great way to introduce your fellow readers to your favorites!
If your book club has a list of potential monthly reads, take a trip to your local library to pick them up. At the party, have each member read a different book. Once the reading portion of the night is over, talk about which books should be read by the entire group!
To set the mood for your party, prepare to transform your home into a cozy paradise. I’m talking candles, fairy lights, blankets, and soft music. Let readers imagine they’re Elizabeth Bennet curled up in front of a fireplace by keeping the lighting low (but bright enough to read by) and employing candles and fairy lights to create a warm atmosphere. Throw blankets and pillows on chairs will also encourage guests to settle in for a comfy hour of reading. Finally, even though this is a “silent” event, we do recommend playing some quiet music to put people at ease. Lean into soft ambient sounds or a soft music score (my pick: the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack).
Quiet food is a must for a silent reading party. That means no pretzels, no chips, and no carrots. The good news is that this leaves more room for cheese—my favorite book club staple. You can also get creative with baked goods like brownies, finger sandwiches, homemade pizza, and more!
Drinks aren’t particularly loud (unless you’re popping some bubbly), but we do want to caution you against anything that requires ice that might clink noisily against glasses. Try to keep all drinks refrigerated long before the party to ensure they’re nice and cold when the evening begins.
Many book club meetings revolve around discussion questions. This can be tricky to replicate when all of your members are reading a different book, but here are a few queries that work no matter what is being read:
1. What’s your first impression of the book?
2. Would it be a good choice for our book club? Why or why not?
3. Were you hooked from the beginning?
4. What do you like or dislike about the writing style?
5. Is the book similar to anything you’ve read before?