Sustained Silent Reading

An interesting thing happened on Tuesday night, June 12, 2012: Boneshaker Books invited anyone who cared to join them for an adult-style Sustained Silent Reading session at the Triple Rock Social Club.

Dating back to our recap of the Minnesota Book Awards, I’ve been grappling with the odd dichotomy of a literary scene: people coming together to celebrate an inherently private act.  People socializing about their love for antisocial behavior.  It’s a strange phenomenon, though one in good supply in our cities.  Boneshaker Books took this to a new level, arranging for the tattooed staff of the Triple Rock to tone down the death metal and open their taps to a roomful of slow-drinking litophiles.

Friendly reading strangers at the Triple Rock Social Club

I arrived a bit late–around 8:15 pm–expecting perhaps a smattering of people ignoring the books in their laps.  Instead, the room was packed.  Not an empty seat at the bar, every booth filled, and every single person had a book butterflied in front of them.  The music was soft, something classical-ish–the volume was so low  I couldn’t even identify the genre.  Near the front door, a “circulation desk” greeted me, offering a book to peruse if I hadn’t brought my own (I had) and a free bookmark to remember the occasion.  I tried to catch a glimpse of what people were reading, but I couldn’t make out any spines or covers: all of the books were open. A booth opened up just as I was looking for a place to sit, and I sat, and I opened my book, and I read.

We read in public.  It happens.  On the bus, in a coffee shop, in the library.  Some of us, if we’re lucky, get to read at work.  It’s not a new thing.  What was new about Boneshaker Books’s event at the Triple Rock was that everyone was reading–the whole point was to be reading.  And it did something to the atmosphere, a stillness in the air, a calm, common purpose.  I opened a short story I’d started the night before and started again from the beginning.  The words looked different on the page, as though they were more relaxed, more willing to be read.  Like they had opened up, unfolded, the sentences less guarded.  Clearly, this was all my psychology at work, but it was at work, and I enjoyed the story I was reading in a completely new, and better, way.

This was the first Sustained Silent Reading event that Boneshaker Books has put on, but judging by the turnout, it won’t be the last.  You can bet I’ll be there next time, too (it doesn’t hurt that Triple Rock’s two-for-one special begins at 9:00, just about the time an average attention span starts to wear a little thin).  Though, if you do attend next time, be sure to arrive early (the event officially started at 7:00, but people were filing it at around 6:30, according to reports) because when the drink specials start, so does the death metal.


Did you attend this event?  Have a different opinion? We’d love to hear what you were reading… Chime in on the comments below, or send us an email at! Be sure to check the schedule to the right and the Twin Cities Literary Calendar and be at the next LitSeen attended event. See you around!


2 thoughts on “Sustained Silent Reading

  1. I attended this event with a friend and we both had a great time. We arrived around 6pm to have dinner and started reading shortly after 7pm, after hearing some shushing from the next booth as everyone settled into their books. It was wonderful to see so many people focused on reading and sharing the experience. Looking forward to the next event!

  2. Pingback: Field of Reads « L i t S e e n

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