Introducing Atlanta’s Silent Book Club

This is part of a growing trend of book clubs with a twist.


Book clubs are having a resurgence.

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Shh, we are reading. If you have been out and about in Atlanta, Georgia you have probably seen something very unusual. Groups of people who are reading silently to themselves.

While it may look strange, these meet-ups are actually a way for people to read and socialize, according to Atlanta Magazine. This is part of a growing trend of Silent Book Clubs (SBC).

Sophia Griesenauer, a volunteer, found the concept online and started a chapter in Atlanta in 2023. “I wanted to bring together a community of readers to reinvest in Atlanta,” she told Atlanta magazine. The SBC chapter has held meetings in popular venues in the city around three times a month ever since.

What is a Silent Book Club?
The global organization has over 1,000 chapters where adults of all ages come to read, according to a statement sent to Goodnet.The first chapter was founded in San Francisco in 2012 by two women, Guinevere de la Mare and Laura Gluhanich, and the idea really took off and is now fostering this love of reading and connection in 50 countries.

Like all the other chapters, the Atlanta SBC, has a time for dedicated reading and people are free to read whatever they like including books, magazines, and kindles, reported Atlanta News First. But there is absolutely no talking.

The Atlanta chapter usually has between 130 and 170 people attending. It is increasingly popular with the participants. “Given a space where I can quietly read with others, kind of like a parallel play, I can finish this Toni Morrison book,” Danielle Clarke, a reader with SBC Atlanta, told Atlanta News First.

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Once the reading session ends, people can move around and socialize with one another, or not. “As a new reader, I thought it would be special to step into this space with my books and hopefully meet new people,” said Spencer Bonner, another reader with SBC Atlanta.

Resurgence of book clubs
Silent book clubs are part of a new resurgence of the old-style book clubs, where everyone reads the same book and comes together to discuss it. But these new book clubs also come with a twist, according to Dazed. The revival is being led by young people.

Gen-Z friendly book clubs are popping up around the globe. That’s because this generation is having a love affair with everything books and that has led to a revival in book stores too. On Tik Tok, #BookTok has gone viral with over 220 billion views.

In this digital world where people work long days on computers, book clubs are a way to make genuine human offline connections. And there are few commitments except to actually read the book.

“I wanted to connect with my friends in a context that didn’t rely on spending money and the book club offers at least one inexpensive social opportunity per month,” one book club regular told Dazed.

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Some book clubs are theme based like the Hothouse Book Club which is geared to environmentalists that come together to discuss issues and ideas in a collaborative setting. It started as a small intimate gathering and now has over 200 participants.

“I had been quite burnt out and stopped reading as many articles and books about the environment, but thought I’d like to start again maybe in a social setting because there’s nothing like social pressure to get you reading,” said Issey Gladston, one of the two founders of Hothouse.

Other book clubs focus on socio-political and economic issues while others read literature. What they all have in common is that they give people a sense of community and belonging, something everyone needs.

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