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An hour of silence connects book-loving Missoula residents

Posted at 12:32 PM, Feb 02, 2024

MISSOULA — Reading is not typically a social activity, but it was exactly that on Tuesday at Gild in Missoula. "Hush Hour Missoula" is a new event created by a book club that designates an hour of silent reading at a bar or restaurant, encouraging people to enjoy reading while interacting with the community.



Nicole Vanek, one of the founders of Hush Hour Missoula, got the idea from Reading Rhythms, a similar event in New York City.

“It just kind of hit me that we could probably do this here, this is something that Missoulians would love,” Vanek says.

She brought the idea up to her women’s book club — Book Club for Mayor— and quickly started planning the event. Book Club For Mayor has been together for almost 20 years, and the members were eager to help Vanek make Hush Hour a reality.

The event — which kicked off at Gild on the Hip Strip on January 30 — saw over 60 people came to read, making the weeknight unusually busy for the bar.

“I mean Tuesday, Monday and Tuesday anywhere is a slower day, so that kind of welcomed the idea for sure to kind of get people in the building,” Rachel Leader, social media manager at Gild, says.

At 7:30 p.m., Vanek rang a soft bell, symbolizing the start of the hour of silence. Participants held true to their promise, only making noise to whisper to the bartender to order another drink.

Soft music played in the background at the bar, a playlist courtesy of Slant Street Records.

The attendees were happy to have a space to connect with their community through reading — a hobby not typically associated with socializing.

“Reading is such a solitary sort of like a hobby, so to do it around others is intriguing,” one reader said.

Plus, the event is a designated time for readers to focus on their book.

“I’m a teacher and a parent, and I have a hard time finding time to read. It’s something that I love doing,” Vanek says.

At the end of the hour, another bell is rung, and participants have a chance to discuss their book with neighbors.

Each table has a sheet of six questions as a conversation starter, including “if you could invite one character to your place for dinner, who would it be and why?”

The overall reaction to the premier of Hush Hour Missoula was positive.

“I hope this continues, this has been really fun so far,” one reader said.

“We get obsessed with scrolling, we’re online so much, so to see so many people in our community committed to something that I as a teacher saw dying out, I think we were all in favor of and all for,” Leader says.

Hush Hour Missoula is scheduled for the last Tuesday of every month, and the next event will once again be hosted at Gild.

More information can be found on the group’s Instagram.