UT-Austin students form silent reading club, connect through Zoom, Discord

Fiza Kuzhiyil

About 80 members of the UT community are part of a weekly virtual reading club over Reddit and Discord to connect during COVID-19. 

Jessica Shu, a finance and Plan II senior, said she suggested the club on Reddit and created a Discord in mid-October, inspired by silent reading days from elementary school. The group has met twice as of Monday.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment idea,” Shu said. “I just missed being around people and reading in libraries and things like that, and I thought it would be nice to start a reading club.”
Shu said she did not want to create a book club where everyone reads the same book because in her experience, they never seem to last long.
“Most book clubs don't really have longevity because people don't like being told what to read and when to read it,” Shu said.
Shu said while many college students like to read, they often don’t have the time. She said the group meets for two hours on Sunday nights, which allows students to allot time in their schedules for casual reading.


Radio-television-film freshman Lauren Tourish said she found the group on Reddit and joined the Discord, where students discussed and recommended books in different channels. 
“With school and everything else going on, it's been hard for me to be disciplined enough and set time aside to read,” Tourish said. “But if others were doing it too, then it might be easier and more fun.”
Tourish said everyone had their mics muted at her first meeting, but she still enjoyed having company while she read.

“The communities I'm a part of are always so friendly and welcoming which is nice, especially because it can be hard to meet new people in person these days, whether you're on campus or not,” Tourish said.
Dannielle LaMonte, a development specialist in the Moody College of Communication, said she decided to take part in the silent reading club as a staff member because she wanted to take more time to read.
“Books used to be a fairly significant part of my life, and it seemed like a nice way to get back to them while minimizing some of my screen time in an engaging way,” LaMonte said. “To share that with others, even if we're not talking or engaging with each other during the reading, is special.”