Words over coffee

Words over coffee

Book clubs

Words over coffee

There is something wildly attractive about Irving Stone’s words, ‘There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books’ because they speak of a bond between book lovers that transcends the book itself. They speak of an inebriating brew of words and lingering thoughts, and moments spent over a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or just a glass of water.

Which is why book clubs are more than just a title-per-week sessions. They are a collective of shared memories and common interests, not just of printed pages but of laughs, arguments and quick-witted banter. And the City is witness to its fair share of reading clubs for people of all ages.

One of the oldest, ‘Bangalore Book Club’ (BBC) will turn eight this year. Rekha, a member of BBC, says that one of the main reasons the club was started is because it brings together people from different backgrounds and acts as a comfort zone. “Bengaluru has many outsiders coming in from different states and countries, and BBC is a way for them to explore and experience the City,” she explains. In their initial days, they made it a point to meet all over Bengaluru so that newcomers would be familiarised with the various areas. “But these days, we’ve contained the meets to three locations — Koramangala, Indiranagar and MG Road, as they are the crowd-pullers,” she adds.

With meetings every fortnight, at around 4.30 pm, the group mimics a family setting. “We introduce ourselves every meeting, discuss different themes and head out for dinner to a select ‘adda’. There are many singles who attend the meetings so we make it a point to have dinner before leaving. And during these dinners, we discuss everything but books.” There are times when they watch movies, go for plays or music concerts together, mentions Rekha.

While book clubs are generally known to discuss a particular book per session, many clubs are starting to stray away from this format. Instead, they’d rather talk about pre-chosen themes. “We realised picking up one book doesn’t work for us because some may have already read it, which discourages them from attending the meeting. So, we choose a theme to discuss; it may be fiction or non-fiction, but we learn a lot more this way,” says Rekha. By the end of the meeting, they generate a list of books to read on the subject as every member contributes with a title.

Other ways to keep the sessions lively and interactive are through crafting and oral storytelling. Chetana Bhoomi, who started ‘Chooku Booku’, a reading club for children, a year and a half ago, says that kids respond better to oral storytelling forms like puppetry and theatre enactments, and visual communication than just reading a book (out aloud). “My son was born premature and needed a nurturing hand. The doctor asked me to talk to him everyday, and when I ran out of things to say, I began reading to him. I collected many picture books — around 700 of them — and soon, started the club.”

Catering to the young ones, she mixes music, dramatics, linguistics, voice modulations and more to help children understand better. This way, they inculcate a love for reading and words. BBC also uses a similar tactic — they end up discussing more than just books, and venture into different forms of art, which broadens their horizon. 

Gayathri Vamsi, who started ‘Buzzing Bee’, a platform that harnesses a child’s creative powers, says that books recreate a world that might otherwise be inaccessible to a person, so reading is more than just comprehending words and sentences.

      “As a kid, I was a gold medalist in academics. But when I shifted to the US, I realised the medals make no difference. I didn’t have anything in common with people there so making conversation was difficult.

If people, especially children, read books, they are exposed to more knowledge which will come in handy later on.” There are numerous other reading and book clubs in the City that emphasise on the importance of written words — be it to gain knowledge or
a family.