Atlanta’s Silent Book Club chapter brings together readers, accountability, and camaraderie

The club has approximately 15 chapters in Georgia

Atlanta’s Silent Book Club chapter brings together readers, accountability, and camaraderie
Atlanta’s Silent Book Club at Ladybird

Photograph by Sophia Griesenauer

If you’ve walked through Bold Monk Brewing, Ladybird, or other Atlanta hotspots recently, you might have noticed something unusual: a group of people independently reading in collective silence. Stumbling upon a Silent Book Club event might seem unnerving without context, but the meetup is an increasingly popular way for people to read, socialize, and explore Atlanta.

Founded in San Francisco in 2012, Silent Book Club has more than 500 chapters in 50 countries, including several across Georgia. Unlike a traditional book club, readers are encouraged to bring their own reading material and read it independently for an hour. That time is sandwiched between two socialization periods. It’s a no-pressure way to get reading done, meet new friends, and get out in the community. The concept is gaining traction on social media, with the Atlanta chapter alone racking up over 18,000 Instagram followers.

“I wanted to bring together a community of readers to reinvest in Atlanta,” says Sophia Griesenauer, the volunteer founder and leader of the Atlanta chapter who found the concept via social media. She began the chapter in November 2023 and has held meet-ups three times a month since. Typically, the Sunday schedule involves an “arrive and settle” period that lasts about 30 minutes, then a one-hour block for independent reading, followed by an hour of optional socializing. There are no reservations required to participate.

For Griesenauer, who has a corporate job at Home Depot in corporate communications, it’s been interesting to watch the psychology at play during the meetups. “I think there’s a lot to be said about doing something collective while also doing something individually,” she says. “Someone recently called it parallel play of the soul, and I think that’s what we’re doing, bringing people together to provide an opportunity to engage if they’d like, but also providing a safe, dedicated space to get some reading done.”

Atlanta’s Silent Book Club chapter brings together readers, accountability, and camaraderie
Atlanta’s Silent Book Club

Photograph by Sophia Griesenauer

Griesenauer emphasizes you can read anything you like, any way you like. People read books, self-help books, newspapers, listen to audiobooks, flip through Kindles, and more. “It’s whatever works for you,” she says. “We had someone come to a meetup with an audiobook, and then when the silent reading hour was over she pulled out her headphones and started crocheting.”

Meetups occur in some of Atlanta’s popular venues, such as the James Room, Dancing Goats Coffee, and the Daily. As the group has gotten larger, Griesenauer has sought out bigger spaces. Her goal with each venue is to help people find new places outside their comfort spots and expose them to places in the community they might not have considered otherwise. She’s also adding smaller pop-up style meet-ups for more intimate gatherings, including a partnership with the Atlanta History Center to do an author talk and silent reading, and Sweat EXT at Ponce City Market to do a workout and silent reading.

In May, the group will meet at Atlanta Dairies, Steady Hand Beer Co., and Elsewhere Brewing.

For those outside Atlanta city limits, there are chapters across the state, including in Newnan, East Cobb (founded by Griesenauer’s mother), South Fulton, Decatur, Suwanee, and more. Check the Silent Book Club website to find a chapter near you.