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Meeting online, and saying nothing: 'Silent Reading Party' goes virtual

People sit near the fire during a 2016 Silent Reading Party, at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.
Christopher Frizzelle
The Stranger
A 2016 Silent Reading Party, at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.

Lots of events have moved online since the pandemic forced bans on public gatherings. 

That includes The Stranger's popular Silent Reading Party. Once a month, people would gather in the Fireside Room of Seattle's Sorrento Hotel and just sit together in silence, and read. Christopher Frizzelle is editor of The Stranger, and co-founded the party about 15 years ago.

"I really thought it was a silly idea, born of my own social interactions," Frizzelle told our show Sound Effect in 2015. "To this day it surprises me, the number of people who show up."

The parties, when they happened in person, were full — with people crowding onto couches and chairs and benches, and then the hearth, and then the floor. There was piano music, but little other noise. Food and drinks were ordered silently, through a check-off menu.

"It's not that it's social, it's more like 'I don't want to be alone,'" Frizzelle said. "It's more like, 'I want to read and I also want to combat the loneliness of reading.'"

The worldwide silent-reading party is set for Wednesday, April 15.

Arts & Culture Coronavirus Coverage
Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.