Like Communism and hoverboards, book clubs are awesome in theory. You meet up with smart friends, you have a couple drinks, you spend three hours arguing about whether or not the misogynistic underpinnings of Jonathan Franzen’s portrayal of Anabel Laird in Purity can be dismissed as satire. It’s great. But in reality, book clubs never quite work out like that. You forget to read the chapters because you got so caught up in Stranger Things, and then you have to face the pressure to say something intelligent when you can’t even remember who the characters are. Joining a book club is setting yourself up for devastating failure. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Silent Book Club is a multi-city movement to take the pressure—and the whole having-to-talk-to-people thing—out of book clubs. At their monthly events, you bring your own book, you meet a group of fellow literary types at a bar, and you sit with them in solidarity and read. It’s like a regular book club minus the obligations and the structure and the inevitable self-loathing. According to the group’s website, Silent Book Club is something you can even do “on your own.” Personally, I’m not sure if reading “on your own” counts as a book club anymore (I think that’s just called “reading”), but the beautiful thing about Silent Book Club is that it’s basically anything you want it to be.
The next L.A. Silent Book Club meetup is Monday, August 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Library Bar (Library Bar, get it?) downtown. RSVP on Facebook, order a copy of, say, Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles, and prepare for a stimulating evening of literature and wordless camaraderie.