Bookstores, Origin Coffee team up for silent book club

Jessie Fischer, owner of Saranac Lake’s The Book Nook, stocks her shop’s shelves. The Book Nook is co-hosting the Sara-Placid Silent Book Club with The Bookstore Plus and Origin Coffee Co. (News photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID AND SARANAC LAKE — Three local small businesses are teaming up for a free, low-stakes monthly book club — and the first meeting already has a waitlist.

The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, The Book Nook in Saranac Lake and Origin Coffee Co. are the co-hosts of the newly-minted Sara-Placid chapter of the Silent Book Club, an international organization of bring-your-own-book clubs that boasts more than 500 chapters.

“A silent book club, I thought that was a really cool idea, honestly,” said Jessie Fischer, owner of The Book Nook. “It’s something a little different and it’s not stressful. Book clubs are a little bit stressful just because you have to read the book and ask questions, but this one’s laid back and you bring your own stuff and get to talk to people.”

Silent book clubs come in all forms, from dead silent to whisper-friendly. What’s consistent between chapters is that members each pick their own books — no discussion or homework necessary — and show up at the meetings ready to read.

“I love the idea of the bookstores being part of the community and just doing something that tries to keep things, just that spirit of loving books, going,” said Elisa McIntosh, bookseller and events coordinator at The Bookstore Plus.

McIntosh spearheaded the book club after daydreaming with a friend about a semi-social social event. She searched for silent book clubs and discovered the organization, then reached out to Origin and The Book Nook to establish the new chapter.

The book club plans to meet alternately in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. The February meeting will be at the Lake Placid Origin location , the March meeting at Origin in Saranac Lake, and so on. The coffee shop will be especially open for the book club, ensuring the perfect reading environment.

Origin owner Carolyn Bordonaro said books and coffee shops are a perfect match.

“We have a lot of customers that go to both of our shops, and it’s like the perfect tie, books and coffee,” she said. “It makes my heart so happy when people can just come in and feel comfortable in our space and hang out.”

The meeting, which is slated to last from 6 to 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month, will start with half an hour of socializing and drinks before transitioning into an hour of silent reading. Bordonaro said that the regular Origin drink menu will be available, as well as a special menu of decaf and low-caffeine options to accommodate the later hour of the club meeting.

A week after announcing the club, the February meeting hit its registration cap, which was determined by Origin’s occupancy limit. McIntosh had to create a waitlist for those who didn’t make it in under the cap and is considering moving to larger, outdoor venues for the summer months.

“We’re playing with the idea of, during the summer months, still alternating but maybe doing it in the parks and then (Origin) can bring the coffee cart,” she said.

Fischer said the demand for book clubs in the Tri-Lakes is strong. Both bookstores already have their own traditional book clubs. The Book Nook also has a “tasty” book club in partnership with Early Dawn Confections.

“Everyone loves reading up here and that’s so great to hear,” she said. “I think this town is growing into the arts and growing into reading and wanting books and stuff like that. For a small town community, that’s really amazing. Honestly, seeing the little kids get excited for books is the most amazing part of the job, too.”

The silent book club is mostly geared toward adults, but Fischer said some teens have signed up.

“It’s just giving a place for people to come and have the time and make the time to read the book they want to read. I do have customers that, you know, life gets in the way. You have kids, you’ve got work, all this stuff going on, they do volunteer stuff, and just finding the time to actually sit down and read is a struggle, so a silent book club is honestly a really great idea.”

Bordonaro, who said she also often feels too busy to read, credits both bookstores with maintaining a reading culture in the Tri-Lakes.

“I just adore the fact that we have two independent bookstore still going strong in our communities and really encouraging people to read as their hobby,” she said.

The February meeting of the Sara-Placid Silent Book Club is already full, but registration and waitlists are open through May at lu.ma/saraplacidsbc.

Starting at $1.44/week.

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