When Readers Invade

Posted September 10, 2015 by LeahAdmin in Events & Travel / 23 Comments

Buffalo Reading Invasion

As I mentioned in my What I’m Reading post a few days ago, I was able to attend my first Buffalo Reading Invasion last week! Buffalo may have famously harsh winters, but our summers are pretty glorious, with more sunny days than any other major city in the Northeast. And we like to celebrate our warm, sunny days by spending as much time outdoors as possible. We also happen to be a fairly literary city; Buffalo is home to great indie bookstores and hosts world-renowned authors. I should ALSO mention that Buffalo is known as The City of Good Neighbors. And when you throw avid readers into a tight community with gorgeous summers, you get reading invasions.

Buffalo Reading Invasion

One evening a month, from June through August, readers gather in a large public space and quietly read together for an hour. It’s just as glorious as it sounds.

I attended the final reading invasion of the year last Monday, and I’m kicking myself for missing the first two! I arrived at Symphony Circle at 7pm to find a few dozen readers scattered on the lawn outside the picturesque Kleinhans Music Hall. Some sprawled on blankets, and others formed little clusters with lawn chairs. There were middle aged-couples, young families, twenty-somethings, and even a few groups that looked to be high school students. And we all just sat quietly, absorbed by our books for an hour.

I can’t even describe how happy it made my soul to see all of these people who made a point of gathering in a park on a Monday evening for the sole purpose or reading books. It was such a beautiful expression of community — and how rare and delightful is it to attend an event at which no mingling is required?

Have you ever been to a reading invasion or similar event?
  • “…and how rare and delightful it is to attend an event at which no mingling is required?” That sounds like the best part! You can feel like part of the community without having to be good at small talk. 🙂 Sounds wonderful. I hope this catches on!

    • It was indescribably lovely. No small talk, just a bunch of people doing a solitary thing together 🙂

  • This sounds glorious!! And such a nice community event. I feel like my town needs one of these things and we have the perfect spot to do it -a waterfront park! Did you do lots of book snooping? I’m always eyeing what everyone else is reading in public places!

    • I’m a huge book snoop too!

    • I was super curious about what everyone else was reading, but snooping was too difficult! If only people would hold their books up in front of their faces to show off the covers.

      A waterfront park sounds like the perfect location!

  • I’m so glad you wrote a little more about this because it sounds like such a fabulous idea. I’m completely on board with social events that don’t actually require socializing. I think this is why I enjoy reading in bars and cafes.

    I wonder if anyone in New Haven would be interested in something like this… I’ll be investigating.

    • I get really distracted by everything going on around me in bars and coffee shops (and I feel weirdly on display, like I’m “performing” at reading), so this was a lovely change! No loud chatter — just strong curiosity about what everyone else was reading.

  • Lindsey Stefan

    This sounds great! Reading is so often a solitary activity, so it’s tough to get an idea of how many other people are readers. I wonder if they do this anywhere in New Jersey…

  • I so love this idea!

    • I really want these to be adopted everywhere! It was so lovely; it’s only a shame we only have them three times per year!

  • I want to go to a reading invasion! I wonder if I could get something similar started here. We are not a community of avid readers, but there are quite a few, especially with so many universities nearby. I would love to have this community do something similar in the spring (it gets hot hot in summertime here in NC).

  • This seems like a lovely event. I’ve never heard of a “reading invasion” but I would be 100% down for participating.

    • I believe there’s a hotel in Seattle that hosts a silent reading party each month, but I’ve never heard of any other place that does something similar. It was really lovely!

  • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

    love this post! Buffalo is only an hour from me but I had no idea about Babel or the reading invasions. A thought: next summer, blogger meetup for us in Buffalo at a reading invasion! (Well, maybe we will have to get coffee beforehand or something, to avoid mingling when we should be reading.) 😉

    • You’re in Rochester, right? How have we not met up yet?!

      • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

        Yes I am, and I DON’T KNOW! 🙂

  • I love this so much! It reminds me of “Drop Everything And Read” or DEAR – which we did in elementary school, except even better because it’s not something people have to do – they do it because they love it! How very wonderful.

  • This sounds absolutely fantastic, Leah! I wish we had something like this in Toronto. I wonder how hard it is to set up? I’m totally with you and think it’s SO GREAT to have an event where you don’t have to mingle 😛

  • Ooohhh…perfect! Except it would be so very tempting to just walk through and peek to see what everyone else is reading!! Except then I would also want to talk with everyone about what they’re reading… But, I would love this. Just think of the collective energy swirling around and above all these folks? I would love this. Wonder if the university where I work would be interested in doing something similar? Or even our little small town. Hey, as Library Board President, that might be do-able, and it would (hopefully) encourage more people here to read. Now that’s an idea worth pursuing! Thanks for the post!

  • This might be the coolest thing ever. I’m totally jealous, as I doubt a hefty percentage of people in my small town own books. Grrr.

  • Terra

    I would join in in an instant and hope these will spring up where I live.