The Reading Hour is already underway at The Broadway Bookshop in London, it began in August this year, but we'd love the idea to spread. It's very simple. Once a month the bookshop stays open late and readers come along with their own books to sit and read in the peace and quiet of the shop. For one hour there’s no talking, no browsing or purchasing, no phones or laptops, just reading. You don’t have to stay for the whole hour, though we find people usually do because it’s such a treat, and there’s time before and after to chat. It was inspired by a couple of things: comments after events at the shop about how lovely it is to be sitting surrounded by books, and lamentations by staff and customers that there doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to read. With demands on our attention coming thick and fast it can be hard to build a reading habit. The Reading Hour is intended to kick start that habit and to be an incentive to maintain it, readers returning each month but hopefully keeping it up in between. Currently it’s small because the bookshop is small but it’s had a great reception from those who’ve attended, some only once, others more regularly. We’d love for it to grow and diversify and it’s intended to be easy to run. You need a space that can be quiet for an hour on a regular basis, some chairs and somebody to welcome readers. There’s little to no cost involved, we run it with existing staff, adjusting hours once a month to accommodate. Bookshops are good places to do it, but they can have a limited audience. What about local libraries? They’re fantastic spaces that have adapted to be welcoming and accessible, where you’re no longer shushed if you so much as clear your throat, and that’s a good thing. But perhaps for an hour a week they could run The Reading Hour, which might reach a more diverse audience than a bookshop can. Other possibilities might be youth clubs, community centres, places of worship, spaces in hospitals. The times could be varied, to accommodate children, or parents after they’ve done the school run, or shift workers. Networks of The Reading Hour in local areas could form to offer a variety of options, maybe even The Reading Hour every day somewhere in your neighbourhood. There’s also the option of participating virtually, maybe you can’t get out and about but you can have The Reading Hour wherever you are, perhaps to coincide with a local group or creating an online group, sharing your experience via social media if you have acce
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