The air tingles with prose. Patrons perch atop bar stools, but they aren't drinking. Individuals congregate together as a group, but they aren't talking.
Paperbacks adorn a table stained by water rings, and tote bags dangle over the backs of chairs. Classic rock is blaring from the speakers, but at this table, silence rings out.
A Silent Book Club is meeting.
The concept is simple yet revolutionary: Members meet up at a bar, a library, a bookstore or any venue that will host them. Once the bell rings, silent reading time commences. After an hour, the bell rings again.
Other than that, there are no rules.
Liberated from the orthodoxy of traditional book clubs, participants can bring whatever they'd like to read and chat about anything, before and after the designated reading time.
The idea began with two friends reading together at a bar in San Francisco, annoyed by the assigned reading of a demanding book club.
"I wished that I had a book club where basically there was no assigned reading but you could just show up, hang out with your friends, talk about what you were reading and then just sort of read your book with no pressure to prepare snacks or vacuum your house or do any of the things that normal, traditional book club hosting entails," says Guinevere de la Mare, who co-founded the organization with Laura Gluhanich in 2012.
"And Laura was like, 'That sounds amazing. Let's do it.' And so we did."
Today, Silent Book Club has over 70 chapters for what de la Mare calls Introvert Happy Hour. Locations dot the globe, with congregants meeting monthly in Pakistan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and many other cities and countries.