Have you ever been to a reading café? It is a place where people who like to read go and sit back in a comfortable chair, at a desktop monitor, or in a small group and read or listen to eBooks while they relax and enjoy something to drink and a small snack. There are few items served, although a person can buy a hot coffee or tea and simple refreshments like a bagel or biscuit. But the main purpose of the place is to provide a comfortable atmosphere where people can read at their own leisure without interruption.
What’s the big difference between the café and a library one might ask. First, the café permits some dining and drinking in designated areas, things that are strictly taboo in most libraries. Second, the reader may bring any kind of reading materials into the café, and the café doesn’t provide reading material – except that which visitors voluntarily donate or leave behind. Café goers bring along their reading materials and take them home with them. They also may bring their Kindle or items they like to read with. There is no dress code, however in many reading cafes visitors will be wearing casual wear bought with Groupon coupons from dealers like ASOS, the British-based clothier that specializes in casual wear and dress for young folks. In fact, a reading café might often be mistaken for a student lounge or study hall. One might find a high-school student reading his textbook while a college grad student will be reading a Kindle that contains the documents she is researching for her thesis work. At another table you may find a reporter reviewing materials for a feature story he is working on.
A reading café is actually an intermediate step between detailed research places where silence may be absolute and where concentration is valued above all else, and the informal atmosphere of a gathering place where some work while others talk, exchange ideas and dine. They are valuable locales that serve more than reading; they are places where people with similar interests may meet. I recommend trying one sometime – particularly when you want to find folks with whom you share common interests.