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Wellington’s Slow Reading Club

9 Oct 2014 • 1 Comments


Reading a book is such a pleasure, but it is one of those simple indulgences that it just never feels like we have time for.  Meg Williams is the founder and host of Wellington’s Slow Reading Club.  She is a firm believer in the value of making time for reading, especially if you used to read a lot, but have let the practice slip away, “for some people who haven’t read in a while, just sitting still for an hour can be a real challenge!”

The Slow Reading crew meet at The Library Bar from 5:15pm every Sunday.  Last week I had the pleasure of grabbing a coffee with Meg before heading to The Library for the completely under-utilised experience of story and Pinot Gris combo.  I was amazed to find out that Meg has only been hosting Slow Reading for six weeks, and her Wellington branch was the first in the world!  After launching the group through social media, Meg was promptly interviewed by a journalist from the Wall St Journal and has since had emails from people from all over the world who are interested in starting their own chapters (ha!).

The name of the group isn’t referring to the speed you move along the lines, it speaks to the pace at which you approach; almost suggesting quality of time and intent over quantity.  Like most people, I feel like I read all week but only in the way that my eyes dutifully take in the letters.  Very little of it resonates with me.

Typically, I actually forgot to take a book with me when I left home on Sunday, luckily The Library is the perfect venue!  Their extended book collection is free for borrowing right off their shelves.  I ended up picking Adeline Yen Mah’s Chinese Cinderella; and fittingly, right there in the author’s preface she writes, “all stories, including fairy-tales, present elemental truths which  can sometimes permeate your inner life and become part of you.”  Slow reading is about giving the words and characters your attention, imagining and exploring them from your own perspective; beyond linearly absorbing the one offered to you by the writer.

It was amazing how quickly I was carried into the story.  I chose Chinese Cinderella because I had read it before, and wanted something I could flick in and out of while taking notes for writing this piece.  By the time I looked up from my pages though it had been the hour!  I was amazed at how many people had come in and settled down to read in the couches; I hadn’t even noticed.  It was so quiet, there was only the occasional sound of a turning page and glass or teacup tinking on a table top. The Library was warm and comfy, and there was an incredible sense of socialness, even though everyone kept to their own story, it was like we were all in it together.

I asked Meg how it all started and she said that one day, out of nowhere, she just had the sudden thought “I cant remember the last time I just sat down to read a book.”  After talking to her friends and colleagues she realised that in the same spirit as the Slow Food and Slow Travel movements, there was interest from people in approaching reading with the same ethos, actively and intentionally; slowly.

If you are interested in hosting your own Slow Reading Club, pop over to the website here.

Add your comment

  • Curtis 21/03/2015 12:07pm (3 years ago)

    Seems like in a city which has the quietest most elegant looking and feeling Central Public Library, it's such a shame that people take this activity into a "themed" bar, instead of the actual Library/ies.

    good concept, but even though the Library is a snazzy medium sized bar in the loudest street in Wellington, I think it'd be better suited in the Central Public Library, where there is actually the peace of mind, silence, and dedication to reading and learning, rather than a place where the liquor flows..

    My thoughts though,

    - Curtis

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