The Art of Gathering: A Book Review

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I only dedicate full blog post reviews of books that were so good, I’m going to re-read them, buy them, put them on my shelf and mark them up for future reference. The Art of Gathering is one such book!

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker focuses on the interpersonal, connective part of gathering rather than the logistics. If you’ve ever been an introvert stuck at a party where the hosts expect everyone to have a good time if there’s enough food and humans, you are going to love this book! So who is The Art of Gathering for?

  • If you are a teacher who wants to design more thoughtful class meetings, this book is FOR YOU!
  • If you are in a book club and trying to plan out your next meeting, this book is FOR YOU!
  • If you are planning a large family reunion, this book is FOR YOU!
  • If you are in charge of bringing together different groups of people for a collaborative business meeting, this book is FOR YOU!

Here are my favorite takeaways:

  • Begin with a specific and arguable purpose for your gathering.
  • Focus on beginnings and endings of your gathering if you want the experience to be truly memorable.
  • Being an authoritative host (rather than a chill one) is an act of graciousness.
  • Explicit rules, rather than unspoken etiquette, can create an immersive experience for you and your guests.

Parker points out that the activities, prompts, rules, and guest lists of a party, far more than what’s on the menu, is going to determine whether the gathering was meaningful and accomplished its goals.

I love gatherings, and I love to teach. Parker put into words what I have felt for a long time: that gathering together can be so much more meaningful if it is structured, rather than leaving people to their own devices!

So run, don’t walk, to buy this book or check it out from your library if you will ever plan an event in your entire life!

Notes: I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was not very engaging, but that’s ok wi because the content was so good. I’ll be buying this book as a reference.

Note: My process of reading books starts with recommendations from people I love, then I add it to Goodreads (follow me here), and to my Libby app queue. I love audiobooks! When the book becomes available, I listen at about 1.5 speed.


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