The Art of Gathering

How We Meet and Why It Matters

Author Priya Parker provides strategies for planning meaningful gatherings of all kinds. She offers insights into why some fill us up while others deplete us. Parker's common-sense tools transfer readily to a variety of settings. A wonderful storyteller, Parker offers delightful ways to make all meetings more purposeful, inclusive and satisfying.

320 pages. ©2020.
Available Formats:

Reader Reviews for this Book

Tia Marten

Review posted February 21, 2023


This book is essential for any community leader engaging in meaningful conversations and facilitation coming together. Very well written. A must read for community organizers, coaches, organizational leaders, government officials, and anyone who calls a meeting of the minds. A great read!


Review posted December 31, 2022


I absolutely loved this book that gave language to and reiterated many of the elements of creating and holding space* for the types of deep connection and creativity I seek. It was filled with interesting and inspiring examples of gatherings and many small takeaways that one could readily implement into anything from family dinners to staff meetings to birthday parties. I can't recommend this book enough for folks who are interested in hosting, planning, or facilitating people and/or if you notice the differences in how you feel in different group configurations and are curious why. *physical, emotional, spiritual


Review posted December 20, 2022


I was looking for a book on ideas for gathering after the isolation of pandemic. I found this book a bit hard to get into but found it has some really good ideas on leadership and having a purpose for a meeting.


Review posted December 7, 2022


I”m sorry the book was not for me. I did not finish it. Early on, I realized that it follows a exclusionist principle with which I’m not comfortable and generally disagree.


Review posted November 22, 2022


As an introvert, parent and teacher this book gave me insight and perspective to why some gatherings are more inviting, comfortable and engaging than others and how to go forward with planning future gatherings. It is a fascinating read that goes deeply into the power of design, setting expectations and intention.


Review posted October 24, 2022


Excellent resource for thinking about team time together or organizing a gathering intended for intentional time spent together.


Review posted October 12, 2022


This book helped me think about gatherings I facilitate and participate in. I use this information when thinking about team retreats, training, team meetings, as well as bringing students together in coursework. I appreciate the insights Priya offers.


Review posted September 24, 2022


So many great ideas and examples. I found myself talking about them almost immediately. It gave me inspiration for work, family, and church gatherings. It will hopefully challenge me to be a more generous host, using my role to provide a purpose, opening, and closing, and a structure for connection in between.


Review posted September 22, 2022


Interesting reflection on how we cab do better with all types of gatherings. I know I can improve as a hostess!


Review posted September 16, 2022


This book has lovely ideas about how to structure gatherings. I was hoping for some ideas about leading meetings, but this is the book for that. It's more of an idea book around gatherings with friends or even work colleagues, but not about facilitating formal meetings. Definitely recommend because it will give you ideas about how to think about gatherings in a different way.


Review posted August 29, 2022


This was really interesting to read as a manager. It made me think a lot about how I engage with my staff, why we come together, etc. In an era of remote and hybrid work environments, I really appreciated the chance to think deeply about the values of gathering.


Review posted August 16, 2022


A very insightful and enjoyable read about how to gather, both in the personal and professional realm. Lots of great ideas about how to bring more intention into meetings and group dynamics.


Review posted August 15, 2022


A great guide to help people connect


Review posted June 22, 2022


love it. it is easy and fun to read with good ideas.


Review posted June 16, 2022


This book was a great read as we all go back to gathering like the good old days pre-covid. It caused me to really think about why we gather, and are we really making an effort to accomplish our real goals. I highly recommend this book for those planning meetings and other gatherings.

Jill Ramirez

Review posted May 27, 2022


I had no idea how much I would love this book and how important it will be to me as I go forward in my work and in my personal life. Thank you for all the nuggets you shared with us throughout the book!

[email protected]

Review posted May 27, 2022


Well written book, easy to read with real life examples of topics introduced.


Review posted May 26, 2022


Great book, easy reading too, easy to follow, great tips on how to well-spend time.


Review posted May 18, 2022


Great book. Easy read. Gives a lot of information on The Art of Gathering.


Review posted May 18, 2022


I love this book! It gives you ideas you did not think about in regards to gatherings. I'm not discussing things like what you will serve or drink or the locale, but aspects such as what is the purpose of a gathering and what type of mood do you want at your gathering so it begins with the invitation. The invitation sets the tone. There is so much more. GREAT book.


Review posted May 16, 2022


Such an interesting and important topic. Really see value in applying this framework to work meetings and transforming them. Tried some ideas at a recent conference and people were noticeably more engaged and invested in the sessions.


Review posted May 12, 2022


love it.

[email protected]

Review posted April 11, 2022


This book was very helpful to me to as I think about planning meetings and the purpose of the meeting. It has helped me to continue to work on being intentional with my planning in order to have successful and productive meetings.


Review posted March 31, 2022


Started out practical and approachable but then turned more elitist in the implementation. Not a lot of consideration for introverts.


Review posted March 29, 2022


This book is very profound and helpful. It easily change my perception of why and how we gather, regardless of the function.


Review posted March 14, 2022


This book deals with what is most difficult when it comes to an unforgettable gathering: the mindset of the host and the subtle and not-so-subtle preparations before the gathering; the flow; and the eventual end. This is not a checklist of to-dos for your event invitation design, place card font, flowers, decor, food, logistics, etc, There are many other books and articles that you can turn to for that. But this book is a definite must-read. Read and be inspired to be more intentional as a host when it comes to your next event. Make it count, and make it memorable!


Review posted March 11, 2022


Very well written. Provided thoughtful ways to meaningfully include--and exclude-- guests to create more of an impact during all types of gatherings.


Review posted February 11, 2022


I struggled to get going with this one, but hopefully I'll have better meetings with a better understanding of why we meet.


Review posted January 12, 2022


WOW! Several friends recommended that I read this book- they were right to offer this guidance. I loved the framework for being purposeful in how we gather so that these are meaningful rather than haphazard. I have already started applying these principles to an online gathering I host and noticed a difference in engagement right away.


Review posted December 16, 2021


Parker has written a thought-provoking book about why humans need to gather. "When we understand why we gather, she says -- to acknowledge, to learn, to challenge, to change -- we learn how to organize gatherings that are relevant and memorable" Very reflective book, it helped me frame the importance of meeting with people and the value of collective thought.


Review posted December 10, 2021


Great read of the meaning of meeting!


Review posted December 10, 2021


Great insight to many styles of gathering and events. Wonderful ideas and inspiration for personal and community use!


Review posted December 7, 2021


This is a great book for ideas on how to create intentional gatherings. I read through it the first time just to learn the ideas and suggestions presented and am working through it a second time more slowly so I can take notes and make plans on how to implement the suggestions. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in making every gathering, casual or formal, large or small, meaningful and impactful for all.


Review posted December 7, 2021


In preparation for two large fundraising events this spring, I read “The Art of Gathering” hoping to gather key tips to make them successful. While I came away from the book with several key takeaways: event density, when to incorporate thank you’s, etc. I also came away with the thought of, what happens if an event is too scripted/hosted? I don’t feel like there is a lot of room for spontaneity if following Parker’s guidance to the letter. Just like any “advice” book there will be bits and pieces I will carry with me but overall, as a future host,I came away overwhelmed with the suggestions. The book itself was written quite well and kept my attention and I would suggest it to anyone in an event planner capacity. But for the everyday individual wanting to connect with friends/ family…I would skip this.

Kathleen McCann

Review posted November 9, 2021


It took me a while to enter into the depths of group gathering in many forms. We do it all our lives and often have not thought deeply about the end points of WHY we are gathering. I finished the book on the way to a "sibling family reunion". I would recommend this book as a learning tool and ongoing resource.


Review posted October 28, 2021


I really appreciated this book in thinking about how to have more meaningful gatherings both personal and professional. Lots of good ideas and examples. Will definitely be referring back to this.


Review posted October 11, 2021


It was ok. Not terribly impressive or easy to read. I was hoping for something more gripping.


Review posted October 8, 2021


This book has been helpful in developing groups with students and educators!


Review posted October 5, 2021


Excellent book on gathering and bringing people together. Great reminders of how to be present for others and how to guide different types of gatherings.


Review posted October 2, 2021


Important reminders that purpose should drive everything in event and meeting planning. I loved all the stories illustrating the concepts. A quick read.


Review posted October 1, 2021


This should be required reading for anyone who plans meetings and events. It's fun to read, as there are plenty of anecdotes to give examples of events that were done well and not so well (and Parker doesn't leave her own event missteps out). The book inspired me to really think about why we gather and how. It also affirmed some things that community builders already do well, like being inclusive and holding space for reflection and celebration! For those wondering how to apply some of these ideas to pandemic-time events, Parker has a Gathering Makeover website to help with that.


Review posted September 4, 2021


This is a very interesting book. Its a good read.


Review posted August 22, 2021


My review is through the lens of a single disabled person who is unlikely to host a gathering without help. I recognize my old self as organizer who excelled at leading work events, yet stumped about how to host meaningful social gathering. The information was helpful in hindsight as well as how to make the most of the rare social occasions in my new lifestyle.


Review posted August 2, 2021


I enjoyed reading this book, and passed this along to a friend after I was finished. I feel it is a necessity especially after we have become so distant and gotten so used to refraining from gathering.


Review posted July 24, 2021


Wonderful breakdown and perspective on the purpose of events and how the expectations of organizers and participants alike determine the outcome. Following the approach given by Priya Parker would clearly create more memorable, meaningful gatherings. Great book.


Review posted July 22, 2021


What a transformative read. If you have been looking for a new way to gather people in business, in leisure, or in service giving, this book will offer new approaches to build community and efficiency into your practice of meetings.


Review posted July 19, 2021


I am not sure what I was expecting but was a little disappointed. I thought there was some useful information about how to engage participants and to better engage as a participant. Mostly I thought this was an opportunity for the author to brag about great meetings they have facilitated while dragging some gatherings they felt were done wrong. It could have been better.


Review posted July 5, 2021


This book inspires me to facilitate gatherings not only for the social and therapeutic benefits individuals might experience, but as a way of connecting others to a sense of community. The author demonstrates how important this experience is in developing the skills and awareness we collectively need of we are to create more sustainable societies. I highly recommend this book for everyone, not just group facilitators. It’s vital reading!


Review posted June 26, 2021


After more than a year of being severely limited in how we have been able to gather, I am excited to try some of the many tips in this book. Starting with figuring out what the actual purpose of the gathering is and ending with a closing that recalls that purpose there are so many tips and examples of great (and some not so great) gathering tactics. I really appreciated Priya Parker sharing from her vast experience.

Janice I Woody

Review posted June 23, 2021




Review posted June 22, 2021


This is a great read for learning more about the world around us. Also very intriguing due to the changes in socialization in a post-pandemic world!


Review posted June 21, 2021


I loved how insightful this book is on providing how intentional our gathering needs to be. The ways we can be sure our gatherings are intentional and where our efforts should be made in gathering, especially when planning events for a non-profit. Setting the expectation openly to our guests is going to be something I will begin setting forth for our events.

Rachel Nelson

Review posted June 14, 2021


This is definitely a great book for my toolkit. The tips and tricks shared here to help create gatherings that are more than just folks getting together but creating opportunities to deepen relationships and connections. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to cultivate community.


Review posted June 7, 2021


Interesting. Gave a new approach to an often uncertain topic.


Review posted June 2, 2021


This is not a book for everyone. But if you host gatherings and plan meetings, you will learn valuable ideas for creating meaningful and memorable events.

Susan Lynch

Review posted May 17, 2021


The Art of Gathering, How we Meet and Why it Matters, is a must read for anyone who gathers and is looking for a deeper, inclusive, more authentic, purpose-driven connection with all those in attendance. Numerous stories, antidotes, examples, guidance, and direction in how to guide and regulate conversations are given for just about every type of gathering you can imagine--family, funerals, workshops, meetings, intimate dinners, camps, retreats, major events and more. Truly inspiring! I intend for this book to change my life!


Review posted May 14, 2021


Very interesting read. The story telling really helped move the story along as it was dry in some places.


Review posted May 4, 2021


The opening pages of this book had me screaming, "Yes! That's so true and frustrating!" The author put her finger on many of the reasons that meetings often go wrong and fail to accomplish their purpose. However, it quickly deteriorated into an self-congratulatory autobiography full of name-dropping and anecdotes about very unrelatable gatherings. I was really hoping for more concrete tips on improving meetings and keeping discussion on course for meeting the goals of the group involved. It would have been helpful for the author to include tips for participants as well as organizers of gatherings. It is much easier to control a gathering when one is in charge, but often the organizers are the root of the problem. Being an active, constructive participant can make all the difference in reaching positive outcomes. I wonder if, in this current climate of meeting remotely, the author might have changed her approach to controlling gatherings more directly rather than utilizing parlor games and social constructs so much. We must accomplish our meetings in a more timely way and really need tips on that type of gathering. The author really lost me when she described how to control personal social gatherings such as dinner parties. I might invite her to dinner at my house, but I would not like to be a guinea pig in a sociology experiment at her parties! It made me sad to think that she cannot turn off her corporate organizational work self to let her loved ones gather "just for fun." A dinner party is an opportunity to serve your guests specially prepared foods, treat them like the special friends they are, and not give them instructions or homework before, during or after the event. Overall, I was very disappointed in this book. I had high hopes for learning how to improve the business or nonprofit board meetings that I am attending or guiding. She identified all the ways in which these gatherings can fail to progress, but not how to get back on track.


Review posted April 26, 2021


This was fascinating and an easy read. There are a number of things I learned for creating a better gathering from a personal level to a larger group function, from the physical set up to giving directions for verbal interactions. This is a helpful read for anyone who plans gatherings of any type.


Review posted April 24, 2021


The Art of Gathering: HOW WE MEET AND WHY IT MATTERS by Priya Parker is an interesting and in depth book about human gatherings. Several concepts from the book stood out for me, like viewing gatherings as a "social contract" with expectations from all parties and the "realness can be designed"and that there are certain approaches to encourage real conversation verse a phoney approach. My favorite chapter seven titled, "Cause Good Controversy" and it refers to making use of "what divides us in our gathering" and speaks to creating positive and engaging controversy.

[email protected]

Review posted April 1, 2021


I really enjoyed this book. I liked the practical advice for planning different types of gatherings supported by antidotal accounts of actual events. I found myself taking notes for two events I have coming up, a meeting for a fundraiser and a more intimate dessert celebration for a friend-this book offered tangible and exciting tips for both! I am planning to pass this book on to an acquaintance that works at a nonprofit organization knowing that it will be very helpful to her.


Review posted March 29, 2021


Didn’t know what to expect but it was an interesting subject.


Review posted March 18, 2021


tips and techniques to keep meetings on task and relevant


Review posted March 8, 2021


I feel like connection and meaning are hard to come buy in the world we live in today. Jumping through so many hoops, the connection and meaning are lost in translation. I’m happy to use these real world suggestions for my family, my work and business gatherings. One of the biggest points of the book was to exclude with purpose. Having focused and purposeful intent, energy and enthusiasm for the reasons for gathering and communicating that intent with those participants is essential! Can’t wait to try it!


Review posted March 3, 2021


Amazing! Priya Parker is insightful and provide easy steps to support meaningful gatherings. I appreciate the advice from professional meetings to personal dinners/ parties. Coming out of a year of limited physical interactions, this book is a must read in resetting our meaningful interactions and find value with each other outside of zoom.


Review posted February 14, 2021


I first listened to the author, Priya Parker on a podcast. Once I heard her talk about this book, I knew I would love it. I enjoy learning about how to be a leader within my profession, which involved facilitating group gatherings. This book helped me understand the HOW, and more importantly the WHY. Humans are the WHY and I love learning about how to enhance our need to connect.


Review posted February 2, 2021


I enjoyed this book and it helped me understand human interaction and communication. It helped me to navigate workplace drama and become a better communicator.