City Books sees the potential of Adda’s Virtual Book Club
The idea for Adda Coffee and Tea House to have its own book club was born from the non-profit partnership we established with Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh, a local chapter of a national organization dedicated to providing books and literary resources to low-income families.
We love a good book. If you’d visited either of our stores prior to the COVID-19 shut down, you may have noticed the small collection of books we have available at both locations. Books can be pleasant escapes from reality as well as sources of insight drawn from many different voices.
At Adda, we value different perspectives that foster conversation, so we wanted to open the opportunity to host the club to anyone who may be interested. With a rotating list of hosts, leading with a book of their choice, it connects participants to other members of the community in a space where they can share their thoughts, learn, and create new relationships and experiences.
Community, Conversation, and Connection are Adda’s three Cs by which we operate, and we are so happy to have connected with City Books, a long-standing community bookstore who will be supplying the club’s books, and who believes in the power of those three Cs as well.
City Books was founded in 1984 as City Books and Antiques in the South Side, then bought by Arlan Hess in 2015 and moved to the North Side (just down the street from Adda’s North Side location!). While City Books stopped selling antiques in 1987, books remained at the heart of the business. Now, City Books specializes in used and collectible books, with a selection of new books by local and regional authors. It is a full-service community bookstore, accepting special orders, opening its space up for author events (when possible), and performing public services.
While in the early stages of planning for the Adda book club, we understand the grip that COVID-19 has over us still, and expect to host the club virtually. Along with the benefits of keeping everyone safe, we also see a beautiful opportunity to remind ourselves to step back from being online and take the time to connect with something physical. Arlan has the same thoughts. “I think virtual book clubs are a great idea — especially because isolation makes it easy to get lost in one’s own thoughts and that can be a slippery slope into depression and division. COVID’s advantage over us is that it preys on our most human vulnerabilities: Our vanity and our need to socialize—whether that’s in the classroom, marketplace, or social hall,” she says.
In turbulent times, we can always rely on a book to teach us and open our minds and hearts to things we never thought about before. Adda’s book club has a mission of bridging the gaps where misinformation and ego-centric arguing lie. Arlan, a former professor, sees the necessity and potential of that mission.
“There are a lot of conversations that need to be had right now — about disease, politics, race — and book clubs facilitate those conversations. Psychological studies have found that reading leads to better social skills and increased empathy. I’m excited to partner with Adda on the development of an online book club because bookstores and coffee houses have always been on the leading edge of cultural change. I can’t think of a better way to bring people together and heal than to re-establish the significance of bookstores and coffee houses in (virtual) dialogues about the future. Because, if I’m being honest, some things will never change, and I would prefer my life constants to be books, dogs, and tea, not hate, disease, and despair.”
We couldn’t agree more, Arlan. If you’re interested in participating in Adda’s book club, whether as a reader or a host, you can apply via this link. We hope you’ll join us!