Seven Virtual Seattle Book Clubs to Help Maintain Your Quarantine Reading Habits

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Reading and cautiously going outside: Two things you can still do! Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, Christopher Frizzelle started a Quarantine Book Club on Slog, because, he wrote: “If I’ve learned one thing from hosting the silent-reading party for the last 11 years, it’s that people enjoy the social pressure to read. People need the social pressure to read. We all know we should be reading great books, classic books, the undefeated masterpieces of literature, the works of genius, the spoils of the intelligentsia, and yet… it’s so much easier to read Twitter or Facebook or fire up Netflix and let digital media do the thinking for us. The internet is leading us to our doom, people. We need to be reading great books. COVID-19 may be wiping out our fellow human beings, but if we spend our self-quarantine time reading, we might be lucky enough to survive this thing as smarter, more well-rounded people.”

That book club, featuring Albert Camus’ The Plague, is nearing its end (though you can always catch up on old discussions), but his point remains. If you need more incentives to read in quarantine, or you want to feel more connected to your fellow Seattleites, or maybe you need something to read at one of our upcoming virtual silent reading parties, we’d suggest checking out one of these virtual book clubs hosted by local organizations in the coming weeks on Zoom and other virtual platforms.

Museum of Pop Culture
MoPOP’s first-ever Book Club will kick off with Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi classic The Illustrated Man, in honor of the prolific writer’s 100th birthday. But it won’t just be a one-and-done deal—the organizers have selected three short stories to focus on in a series of all-ages events lasting a whole month, including a live virtual discussion, a happy hour, Twitter chats, and a movie watch party.

King County Library System
KCLS’ monthly Mountaineers Book Club, led by librarian and Mountaineers Climb Leader Jenn Carter, highlights adventure and outdoor books written by women and POC. This month, they’ll virtually discuss Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, a memoir by Heather Anderson, the second woman to hike the “Triple Crown” of backpacking: the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails.

APRIL 20–29
Third Place Books
The esteemed local chainlet is streaming a variety of their Seward Park location’s book clubs. Upcoming options include the Booze & Lasers sci-fi group’s Dune discussion, the Social Justice Syllabus’ I Love Myself When I Am Laughing… and Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive: A Zora Neale Hurston Reader discussion, and the Queer Lit Book Club’s Girl, Woman, Other discussion. Consider purchasing your chosen selection through their online store—they’re offering free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

APRIL 30, MAY 28 & JUNE 26
Northwest African American Museum
NAAM has started a new “Black Like Us” monthly book club focused on personal narratives written by black authors and creators, “with the intent to catalyze a reimagined idea of oral traditions.” For the first iteration, they’ll discuss Ntozake Shange’s classic, Obie Award-winning 1976 theater piece Ntozake Shange: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / when the Rainbow is Enuf. They’ll continue in May with Toni Morrison’s Sula, followed by Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower in June.

MAY 16–17
Seattle Public Libraries
Every year, SPL puts on a Seattle Reads program, through which the entire city is invited to read and discuss a single book, and there are accompanying events and a talk from the featured author. This year, they’ve chosen Tommy Orange’s There There, with events scheduled for May 16–17, but we haven’t received confirmation that that’s still the plan in this coronavirus-afflicted world. Regardless, the book is absolutely worth a read, and we’re holding out for some virtual programming, if, as is seeming increasingly likely, we’re still in lockdown in mid-May. At the very least, you should be able to use that book for one of the squares on your Summer Book Bingo card, which will launch early this year, at the beginning of May.

Seattle Repertory Theatre
The Tony Award-winning theater had to cancel the rest of their 2019/2020 season, but they’re gearing up for an even better 2020/2021 season, including a Kate Hamill-headed production of Emma next January and February. If that excites you—it should!—consider joining their virtual Emma book club, which will cover the original Jane Austen classic. Seattle Rep Directing Intern Annika Perez-Krikorian will lead weekly Zoom discussions during lunchtime (if that’s still a thing) on Fridays. The first session has already happened, but we’re betting it’s likely you’ve already read the book, or at least seen Clueless, so it should be easy to catch up.

The Stranger
We already mentioned this at the top, but in case you’ve skimmed this post, you should know that our very own Christopher Frizzelle has been running a “Quarantine Club” on Slog for the last month, featuring Camus’s very timely Nobel Prize winner, The Plague. He’s been writing weekly Slog posts with discussion questions about the book, and moderating responses through the comments sections. The last edition is slated to come out this week, but if you’re late to the party, go get a copy of the book now and pace yourself through his already published coverage—it’d make great reading material for our now-weekly virtual silent reading parties. For more bite-sized offerings, check out Rich Smith’s “Take a Break and Read a Fucking Poem” series of Slog posts.

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