EVENT REVIEW: Silent Book Disco

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13th October 

Empty Shop TESTT Space

Review by Victoria Simpson

Think of the first image that comes to mind when the phrase “silent book disco” is mentioned. Is it people swaying side to side whilst reading a book? Or is it basically a library with some flashing lights? If you’re like me and had no clue what to expect, then your thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth.

After entering the building where this mysterious event was happening, I was handed a pair of headphones and directed to the makeshift dance area. It was everything you’d expect from an actual nightclub; there was a bar, flashing lights, and music, albeit only heard through the headphones. Unlike normal nightclubs, there was a table full of books in the corner. Each book is tailored to each track on the playlist, for example the book ‘Last Night at the Lobster’ was accompanied by the B-52’s Rock Lobster and ‘The Importance of Music for Girls’ was represented by David Bowie’s ‘Let’s dance’. This was essentially a pop-up bookshop in the middle of a disco.

I spoke to Jake Tinsley and James Routledge, who run these events. They told me about the origins of the silent book disco and how they only started running them last year when collaborating with the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. Since then they have won a grant from Harpercollins publishers so they can purchase their own headphones. They’ve been joined by children’s characters at their family-aimed discos and have even hosted events with authors such as Adam Kay and Mari Hannah to launch their new novels.

In summary, this was one of the most fun yet bizarre experiences I think I have encountered. The playlist from the night is must-listen and I shall definitely be downloading it to my Spotify! If you’re still unsure of what a silent book disco is, in Forum Books own words, it’s “the soundtrack you need to read”.

Cuckoo Review is an arts journalism programme for young writers aged 15-23. Through the Cuckoo Reviewers in Residence programme at Durham Book Festival, young people have reviewed festival events and books, and have interviewed featured authors. For more information about Cuckoo Review visit