Most of you, like me, have probably never heard of a silent reading party, especially in this part of the world. But I just came across this interesting take on the simple, mundane act of reading – the silent reading party. And that’s when strangers come together at a venue and read together, silently, while eating or drinking with the piano tunes of a resident pianist play in the background. This phenomenon was founded by The Stranger, a Seattle-based online newspaper, about 10 years ago and it’s so popular that people line up outside the venue, every Wednesday at 6 PM, to get a seat at the table. People actually buy tickets for this, and the price ranges between $5 - $20, whatever you can afford.

So now that the whole lockdown is happening, The Stranger moved its party online over on to Zoom. According to an article written by Gal Beckerman for the New York Times, the virtual reading party looks like a ‘mesmerizing, found performance art.’ People gradually appearing on little box screens in pajamas or elaborately dressed in sequins while the still resident pianist plays in the background, and for the same ticket fee. Some can be seen falling asleep on their couch, while a family has dinner with the reading party as background music. 

There’s something oddly beautiful about being together in this unconventional way, where strangers can look into your private space as you read a book, an intimate act. The quarantine has definitely made a lot of us living alone crave the comfort of other people, just being around another body or a presence. And I guess that’s what this experience creates… enjoying your book in the presence of other virtual bodies.

If you’re interested in joining, you can find all the details here.


Happy reading!


Thumbnail image courtesy Christopher Frizzelle, editor at The Stranger.