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A lovely idea, but not exactly a book club

The hottest new trend in book clubs is the Silent Book Club, where people can all show up in the same place and read whatever they want.

No talking. Just reading.

There are currently 525 chapters globally.

These “introvert happy hours,” as they bill themselves, have seen 75 percent growth this year alone. In some cities like Seattle, demand is so high that meetups must take place in ten different places simultaneously to accommodate the demand.

This is a lovely thing. I’ve never been opposed to reading. Communal reading sounds a little strange to me, but so, too, do green bean casserole, massages, and bungee jumping.

To each their own.

But I’m wondering:

Can we give this thing a different name? Because it doesn’t sound like a book club to me.

These silent book clubs possess none of the qualities of a book club except that they include books. The word “club” usually implies that a certain number of people greater than one will occasionally make eye contact, exchange thoughts and opinions, share ideas, and generally be social.

Reading beside another person possesses none of these qualities. If reading in the company of other human beings qualifies as a book club, then dentist waiting rooms, airplanes, public libraries, and the backseat of my car might also qualify as silent book clubs.

Please note:

I don’t think anything is wrong with these “introvert happy hours.” Read, I say! Read a lot! Read my books in particular! Purchase them by the bushel! They make a great gift!

In fact, stop reading now and make a purchase. I’ve published eight books so far. Maybe buy the whole collection. Twice!

I support reading in all of its forms and forums.

I’m simply opposed to this assigned nomenclature. “Silent book club” makes no sense. ”

Admittedly, it’s not a big deal. The name doesn’t really matter all that much. Referring to your silent reading session or introvert happy hour as a book club does not hurt anyone or even annoy me all that much.

It’s just an odd choice.

But this emergence of silent book clubs is a little concerning to me for other reasons. I worry that their rising popularity might be yet another signal of the growing challenge that human beings seem to face when it comes to making eye contact and speaking to one another in person, absent the filter of a glowing screen, a keyboard, text messaging, swiping, and the safety of isolation.

This is a real concern for me and many others. There is mounting evidence that human beings are withdrawing from one another and replacing authentic social interaction with isolating technological alternatives, leading to increased levels of social anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

I hope that silent book clubs are simply a means of finding a little peace and quiet in the company of like-minded strangers and don’t represent another form of retreat from one another.