By Nora Ibrahim, Staff Writer
Portland’s first silent book club has been gaining popularity among readers of all kinds. On the second Sunday of every month, Tandem Coffee hosts a Silent Book Club on 122 Anderson street Portland, ME from 2:00 to 4:00pm where readers of all kinds gather to read and enjoy tea or coffee. The first hour of the event is spent discussing and swapping books with the other attendees, while the second half is for silent reading.
Sharon Kitchens, the founder of the Portland chapter from the Portland Area and a beekeeper, started the Silent Book Club (SBC) in January 2017. She was inspired by the two women that got together in 2012 in San Francisco and created the first in the country of what has become known as the Silent Book Club. These two women are Guinevere de la Mare, the author of the book I’d Rather Be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers, and Laura Gluhanich, the Co-Founder. Kitchens heard of this club in late 2016 and took action to create the first chapter in Maine; with the help, encouragement and advice from Guinevere.
Kitchen further explained how the club started and what they have encountered:
“At first there were only a handful of us – mainly friends of mine and a couple people I’d gotten to know at local bookstores. Then, in April, SBC started using Meetup. Before long, strangers were showing up, which is terrific. I have met so many cool people who I would never otherwise likely have met.”
The club began with mostly women; half of the people who attend are regulars,who tend to be more “lively” and get into conversations more, and the attendees are aged from mid-20s and up.
Kitchens explained the pros of the silent book club and compared it to the other common book clubs; Most book clubs have set rules and guidelines the members or the guests must follow. For instance, all of the members must read the same book at the same time which Kitchens was concerned may be restricting for some book-loving introverts. She also stated that this club is a fantastic way to support local libraries and bookstores.
Emily Simons, the manager at Tandem Coffee, expressed that Kitchens is a regular customer at the coffee shop for a long time. Kitchens approached Tandem Coffee with the idea of hosting the Silent club, and Tandem was thrilled with the idea.
“We love being able to support our customers who are hosting events for the community,” Simons exclaimed. “Having people use our space to come together over something as great as reading was a no brainer for us!”
Kitchens unraveled the benefit of reading and coming together by declaring:
“Reading has become my primary way to stay sane during this unsettling time when the reigning administration is so incredibly toxic, and SBC is this incredible connection to people who are so thoughtful and aware.”
Diane, from midcoast Maine and a first time comer to the club, heard about the club through meetup.com. Diane claimed that she likes the idea of the club because she is a “big reader” and enjoys conversing with other people about books; she reads all kind of books and genres; the book she brought with her is a book she admitted to be “slow”, but continues to read in hopes that the plot of the story will stir up. Her favorite author is L.E Modesitt Jr.
The club welcomes all kinds of readers who read all kinds of genres and subjects; which serves as an opportunity for students to complete assigned readings in the company of others while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.
For more meeting information visit, https://www.meetup.com/Silent-Book-Club-Portland-ME/