Like Tinder... But With Books!

Have you ever gone on a blind date with a book?!

This February, we were honored to be the venue for Cleveland’s 6th annual ‘Blind Date with a Book‘ event hosted by The Reading Room CLE. Tickets included light refreshments (like amazing brownies and hot cocoa) and the choice of a book wrapped in kraft paper with an enigmatic description written on the front – sort of like a Tinder bio! This beautiful event, created in celebration of women’s literary friendships, was an absolute success & enjoyed by all in attendance!

I had the opportunity to interview Quinn, a building resident and organizer of the event, who was eager to share the history and goals of not only this event but The Reading Room CLE as well!

Emily: For starters, what is the Reading Room CLE exactly?

Quinn: The Reading Room CLE is a non-profit bookstore committed to advancing equity in Greater Cleveland by improving our community’s access to opportunity and information. We aim to transform our society to combat the long-term effects of segregation.

Emily: That’s beautiful! I’ve also heard you reference the “Friends of the Brownhoist” – can you explain what that is and how it came to be?

Quinn: Definitely. When I first met with Adam and saw The Brownhoist back in April of 2023, I knew I wanted to bring the bookstore here as well as help support this amazing social project he was describing. Thus we decided to form the Friends of the Brownhoist, a sibling organization to RRC and a fiscally-sponsored charitable project with a more specific mission. It would be focused on maintaining the building and its environs as an asset to the neighborhood, a bulwark against urban decay, and on extending welcome to folks who cannot access the space at market rate.


Emily: So you are kind of like the financial arm of the building?
Quinn: Not exactly. We are more like financial helpers. My goal for the Friends is to help get the building to solvency, then utilize surplus cash flow for capital improvements and maintenance with enough left over to create endowments and scholarship funds. Friends of the Brownhoist will host events, sell memberships, solicit donations, and/or sell tangible goods like snacks. The idea is to utilize basic financial accessibility principles to nurture the growth of the building and community it serves.

Emily: That’s so awesome to hear. I love what you’ve done with the 3rd-floor conservatory since moving the bookstore in last fall. The coworking space is perfect for gatherings and I’ve already bought a few books! Speaking of which, tell me about the Galentine’s event! When did it start?

Quinn: I started the Galentine’s event back in 2018. It was hosted at Fear’s Confections yearly until Cassie closed down last year. We always maxed out her space at about 25 people even through Covid.

Emily: What is the event exactly? What’s the goal?

Quinn: The goal of Galentines is to celebrate women’s supportive friendships. Anyone willing to celebrate women’s friendships is welcome. Blind date with a book is a library tradition where you choose a book without knowing what it is. I learned about it when I worked briefly in public library systems, so I loved the idea of incorporating this classic tradition into a fun setting. Doing it on Galentine’s just made sense.


Emily: What made you decide to host here?

Quinn: When I was searching for places to become the home base for RRC, I knew we needed a small space for our carefully curated collection of books. However, we also wanted to have large events, which typically conflicts with having a small space….then I found the Brownhoist. The layout of the conservatory that we are occupying is unique in that it has 2 sides, one small and one large. The smaller works great as our bookstore, and the larger side serves as a small event space and coworking area. Since we have this beautiful space of our own now it was a no-brainer to utilize it for Galentines. Fear’s was amazing, but in our own space, it’s much easier to make decisions about the event without having to worry about whether we are bringing enough people in to make it worth it for our host’s time/costs.

Emily: What was it like hosting it here?

Quinn: This was by far the best year for the event! We were profitable for the first time and raised $350 for RRC, with almost double our typical attendance. Having the full kitchen and the ability to overflow into other spaces when attendance was unexpectedly high was so lovely. Plus having 50 chairs available to us even if we didn’t use every single one was a huge relief.

Emily: I was actually in attendance myself for the first time and I was really impressed by the turnout. It was awesome seeing so many friends and strangers strangers sitting together chatting about books and enjoying each other’s company. It’s truly beautiful to see the sense of community that this building seems to foster.

Quinn: I have always loved being surrounded by a flock of odd-birds. This is a place for a flock of odd birds to gather. Whether you are a penguin, sparrow, flamingo, or owl… we just ask you to keep your beak and claws to yourself as much as possible. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you’re shaped like or how you act – you are welcome here. I believe everyone is inherently valuable, and I am so honored to be part of this space that offers us all a safe place to gather.

Thank you to everyone who attended this year and to Quinn for putting on such a fun event. If you missed it this year, don’t worry – it’s not going anywhere! Mark your calendar and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out next year. (Plus we have tons of other fun events in the works!)

You can learn more about The Reading Room CLE here!