My Silent Book Club, here in Rockville, Maryland, has become a tight-knit community of book lovers who are, well, not necessarily from Rockville, Maryland.
Some of us live in Rockville, or in communities within a 20-minute driving distance of Rockville. But in the Zoom era, people began attending from places as far-flung as Boston, Seattle, and a rural area of Maryland.
Those of us who attended the Zoom meetings every week got to know each other very well, and we had some great conversations about the books we were reading. I, as the organizer and host, called on participants in turn, allowing each person 3 minutes to speak.
Then something interesting happened. During one event, after everyone had spoken, I asked whether anyone had anything additional to add, since there was extra time remaining. One of our regulars had something to say.
It was a question. And it was such an interesting question that I knew that a 5- or 10-minute conversation would not do it justice. So I thanked him and told everyone to think about an answer and we would discuss it the following week.
The following week, we had one of the best meetings ever. Everyone had such interesting things to say. There was time for individuals to talk about the books they were reading, and time for them to answer the question. The question inspired a fascinating discussion and array of ideas, and it brought us closer together.
Then something even more interesting happened. At the end of that meeting, another of our regulars spoke up. She had a question for next time. Again, I was blown away by how fascinating the question was. We agreed to discuss it the following week.
The following week, I started to feel unwell halfway through the meeting. I asked the question asker whether she would feel comfortable leading the rest of the meeting, because I was too unwell to continue.
She said yes, and later I learned that a third regular had asked yet another fascinating question. I was still unwell the following week, and that question asker took over leading that meeting, during which, I later learned, yet another fascinating question was asked.
And so, my Silent Book Club has begun to lead itself. I believe this would not have occurred, had the participants not developed strong bonds with one another by showing up week after week. They feel comfortable sharing questions and ideas and being innovative when things don’t go as planned.
It’s a special group of people, and it’s amazing that we were able to forge such strong bonds over technology alone. I hope to be able to continue with the far-flung group even after the pandemic ends.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, here are the questions asked by club members:
- I read a lot of genre fiction, but don’t talk about it in Silent Book Club. In Silent Book Club, I mainly talk about the nonfiction I read. Why do you think this is, and does anyone else experience this?
- Which books were formative for you in childhood?
- Which books do you reread, if any?
- Do you ever decide not to read a book, or not to keep a book you own, based on the author’s personal life?