Silent reading seems like a thing of the past for people like me who are no longer a part of the public school system. I’m pretty sure every public elementary, middle, and high school in America enforced silent reading, and maybe—hopefully—they still do. At my school in Newhall, California, this reading time was referred to as D.E.A.R., or Drop Everything And Read, and I looked forward to DEAR-ing. Think about it: every day, Monday through Friday, there were fifteen minutes set aside in which all I had to do was read. It was incredible.
I believe that if there were a place I could go to read, and be surrounded by other people reading, I would read more often. It’s like when I go to a coffee shop to do work because I can’t get work done at home; for whatever reason, I am more motivated to get work done, read, or write when I am surrounded by others doing similar things.
The Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, Washington has figured out what readers want: a comfortable, classy environment in which they can read, be surrounded by many others reading, and drink $5 Manhattans all night. The “event” is a Silent Reading Party, and it is held in the hotel’s “Fireside Room” on Wednesday nights. I write event with quotation marks because it isn’t necessarily an event; there is no time you are required to show up, and there is no duration of time you must stay. Nothing even really happens: people show up, they read, and they leave. That’s it. And every week, the event is packed, which makes me wonder why more hotels—or any other businesses—elsewhere in the country don’t host silent reading parties. My friends and I would go there every week if there were one in Long Beach or somewhere within an hour’s drive.
The hotel’s website says the party is hosted because people don’t want to read alone. Maybe this reasoning is a generalization, but I find myself in agreement. When I spend an afternoon reading a really great book in my room, I feel like I haven’t done anything with my day; going somewhere to read, where I can interact with others if I want to, would make me feel much more accomplished. The Stranger’s article about the Silent Ready Party explores another reason people might attend: date night and date-seeking. I have to agree—it’s rather sexy to see a guy reading. Seeing the focus on his face would make me wonder what he’s reading about, and curiosity about his book (or journal, newspaper, etc.) would give me a reason to say hello. From the medium, genre, title, or author, I can tell what kind of person he is. If he’s reading a newspaper, he cares about what’s going on in the world; if he’s reading Nicholas Sparks, I know to stay far away from him; if he’s reading Joyce, he’s probably nerdy and capable of discussing literature (a quality I find attractive).
I propose that we, the people of Los Angeles County, start a reading club. Who’s with me?