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What's a reading invasion? Head to Riverside Park on Thursday to find out

People in Buffalo, N.Y., gathered for a "reading invasion" at a park in that city earlier this month. A Wichita woman has organized one for Central Riverside Park on Thursday.
People in Buffalo, N.Y., gathered for a "reading invasion" at a park in that city earlier this month. A Wichita woman has organized one for Central Riverside Park on Thursday. Buffalo Reading Invasion

This might be the quietest get-together you'll experience all summer:

The first Wichita Reading Invasion — a celebration of reading and community — will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Central Riverside Park.

What is a reading invasion?

Think of it as a flash mob of book lovers who gather in a predetermined public place with their lawn chairs, blankets and books, and then read for an hour.

That's right. Just read.

Cindy Tosh organized the Wichita event after hearing about the Buffalo Reading Invasion in upstate New York. She posted on the Wichita Eagle's #ReadICT Challenge page on Facebook that she'd like to participate in a local reading invasion, and others agreed.

Tosh started a Wichita Reading Invasions page on Facebook, which so far has more than 200 members.

"When I saw that lots of other people were interested in reading together, I thought, 'OK, let's try to create some type of platform to make that happen," said Tosh, 35.

"Honestly, I do this every week anyway, by myself somewhere. So if everybody just wants to get together, that's great."

The event is free and open to all ages. On Thursday, the group plans to gather near the fountains in Central Riverside Park at 7 p.m. and then spread out in the shade nearby to read.

Tosh, an avid reader who currently is enjoying the third book in Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series, said she's not sure what to expect from the first event. It could draw just a few people or dozens.

"My biggest hope is that the people engaged in the activity enjoy it and feel a sense of community," she said. "And then if anyone so happens to observe it and doesn't understand what it is, I hope they feel welcome to grab a book and participate."

Tosh's timing is on point.

About 1,000 Wichitans gathered Saturday for a ceremonial book brigade to mark the opening of the new downtown library. Other bibliophiles are excited about the Great American Read, a PBS initiative that urges readers everywhere to explore a list of 100 beloved novels and vote for their favorites. And it's never too late to join The Eagle's 2018 Reading Challenge.

It's a great time to be a reader in Wichita, and Tosh wants to keep the momentum going.

"I've always enjoyed reading. I still remember the first time I understood the context and the concept and putting it all together," she said. "I never stopped reading, and I really enjoy getting together with other people and talking about books."

Over 1,000 volunteers lined the streets in downtown as 100 items from the old Wichita library were moved to the new Advanced Learning Library. The ceremonial items included books and various items that represented the library. (June 16, 2018)

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