You’re sat in a cafe, eagerly grasping a battered copy of your favourite book. You glance up to grab a quick sip of coffee as you turn the page. You notice a tall, dark and handsome stranger across the room who’s looking at you. He smiles. You smile. Embarrassed you bury your face back in your book. He comes over, he’s read that book, he loved it. He recommends something by the same author. You hit it off straight away, and here begins a new chapter in your love life…
It’s the fantasy of many book lovers. But surely, it’s just that? A dream? Perhaps, but with the new trend of literary speed dating, it may not be as far fetched as you imagine.
A huge hit in the USA, literary speed dating is in the early pages of development in the UK. In the USA and Canada, bookish singles everywhere are popping along to their nearest literary speed dating ses- sion with a carefully selected novel. Rather than talking about themselves, couples are talking about Henry James, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy, and other literary greats.
Across the pond, bookstores everywhere are embracing this new trend. One of the most popular venues for the hot new dating scheme for bookish types is the Rare Book Room of New York’s famous Strand bookshop, in Greenwich Village. Here eligible singles gather every Valentine’s Day in the hopes of meeting their match.
Combining reading and romance to potentially create the stuff of fairytales, should be as much of a hit here as it has been in the USA and Canada. But as of yet, the UK has been slow to embrace the novella of literary speed dating.
These events attract all kinds – young, old, skinny, curvy, tall, short, but, unlike standard speed-dating, every attendee has one guaranteed shared love, providing a commonality, and a unique icebreaker to quell the inevitable nerves of speed-dating.
Though it’s been a slow-burner over here, these events are beginning to take place. London School of Economics held an event in March, as part of their Literary Festival. 30 people gathered in the university’s New Academic Buildings, clutching their novels, awaiting the previously discussed romantic fantasies.
Literature is all about making connections, emotional, intellectual and human. Speed-dating is the same. People are drawn to such events by the prospect of discussions around scintillating prose, but they meet new people, find new books to add to the pile of ‘to reads’ next to the bed, and get to enjoy a night of gentle socialng, based around something they are passionate about.
Will they find love? It’s impossible to say. But there’s only one way to find out…
And one things for certain…I don’t envisage any of these people will be taking their Kindles along to these events. But that’s another issue.