Reading, unlike sports, is not an inherently social activity. The words exist in the book. The brain consumes them. Much of the social activity surrounding reading happens before and after the fact: discussions about reading among people who read. Author readings are somewhat social but are usually just a different mode of delivering the words.
A few days ago I copied an idea I’ve seen promoted in The Stranger. I invited my Facebook friends (all people I know in real life, it’s just that some of my actual friends don’t use Facebook) to join me for an evening of reading together. We take over a coffee shop and read and chat. Last night four friends joined me at Roy Street Coffee and Tea, the fake Starbucks on Capitol Hill. I’m no fan of corporate coffee, but they do have a lot of comfortable seating. We brought books, drank a little bit of coffee, read, and occasionally chatted.
Despite a setback, I pronounce the evening a success. During one of the chatting breaks, I nearly died from lack of oxygen due to cracking jokes about cat ass. (Don’t ask, cause I can’t remember now.) I got 80 pages out of Salvage the Bones read. Setback was that Roy Street Coffee and Tea had a jazz band come in and play, and the seats we’d chosen were about 10 feet from the band. When they started setting up, we decamped to Espresso Vivace a couple blocks away, which had better coffee but less comfortable seats.
I will do another one in a couple of weeks.
For the record, the participants last night were reading the following books:
- MicroTrends by Mark Penn (Heather)
- Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (Kim)
- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Phil)
- Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine (Lori)
- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Deirdre)
Writing about this has got me thinking about social reading. There will be a post.