A PARTY where you can have your nose in a book. So on a cold Monday in December, 65 people were gathered for Reading Rhythms, an event that bills itself as '' not a book club '' but '' a reading party. ''

The parties, which began in May, take place on rooftops, in parks and at bars. The premise is simple :  Show up with a book, commit to vanquishing a chapter or two and chat with strangers about what you've just read.

The attendees that night, each of whom had paid a $10 entry fee, were the lucky ones : 270 people were on the wait-list to get in.

Just because a city never sleeps doesn't mean it isn't crammed with introverts who wish to turn pages in  companionable silence.

The idea for Reading Rhythms emerged when four friends in their 20s - Ben Bradbury, Charlotte Jackson, John Lifrieri and Tom Worcester - discovered a shared sense of alarm over the deterioration of their book consumption.

The causes were what you'd expect : annihilated attention spans, too much socializing, the treacherous enchantment of the iPhone.

Bradbury and Worcester, who are roommates, hosted the first event on their rooftop. A playlist was compiled, 10 friends showed up with books, everyone read for a bit and talked about what they'd read, and then ....... went home.

It was, Bradbury later recalled, ''quite special.'' No, really!

'' I got an hour of reading done and I hung out with some of my best friends, which I'd wanted to do anyway,'' he said. '' That doesn't usually happen.''

Jackson left the first party feeling that she'd scratched the itch of being in the library at school, waxing philosophical late at night with friends,'' but without the burden of an exam or essay on the horizon.

'' There was no end game; it was purely fun.''

The four students solidified a format, gave the series a name, planned additional parties, opened up the invite list, and started an Instagram account.

Since May there have been parties in New York. Los Angeles and [of all places] Croatia.

The parties have grown in size : One scheduled for February has capacity for 175 readers, and the lion's share of the slots are already filled.

Last month, a TikTok video about the series went viral. Predictably, skeptical commenters chimed in : '' Hipsters recreated the library and think it's profound 🥹🥲 and  ''sooooooooooooo ......  a glorified library?''

BUT at the event this month, none of the guests seemed to operate under the illusion that they'd reinvented any wheels.

And ''glorified library'' actually described the ambience well : Seating included antique armchairs; deep sofas and velvety settees; flickering votive candles emitted an amber glow, hot noodles and drinks were available.

There was live piano music. A faux fire faux-burned cozily against one wall.

The Essay Publishing continues into the future. The World Students Society thanks author Molly Young.


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