Book groups trying to keep reading habit alive

Book groups trying to keep reading habit alive

With anxiety in the air, enthusiasts have been hosting online meetups, sharing reviews and building bonds

Malleswaram Book Club, an all-women group, has been hosting meetups every month.

Amidst packed deadlines and additional housework, members of many city book groups are trying to keep their community alive.

From Zoom meetups to WhatsApp interactions, they are trying different things during the pandemic.

Atta Galatta

‘AGAskTheAuthor’, is a new concept started by Atta Galatta a month ago, where a popular author answers three questions. They call for entries for questions from their social media pages.

The author records answers to selected questions and they are uploaded online. The author selects the best question and the asker gets one book of the author’s works and other selected questions get goodies from Atta Galatta.

Shobhaa De, Manu Pillai and Josy Joseph are some of the featured authors.

Lakshmi Sankar, owner of Atta Galatta says, “There is a fatigue with online meetings and we wanted to try different things. The plan is to keep it short and exciting.”

Atta Galatta’s book club hosts meetups with a theme, she says.

Bangalore Reading Club

Started in 2018 by Abhishek Kumar Jha and Jeevanayagi Ganapathy, it caters to literature lovers. Since the internet is flooded with webinars, book readings, and club meetings, they decided to keep discussions to their WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

Abhishek says, “Members routinely talk about books, authors, and our reading rites. We have conducted online story writing and book review contests as well as workshops on creative writing and public speaking for children.”

Malleswaram Book Club

An all women group, this book club has been hosting meetups every month.

Radhika Prasad, founder of the club, says the two-hour sessions are held once a month and are about discussing a common book and also about connecting with other book lovers. She says, “Be it fiction or non-fiction, we look at some themes and draw value into our lives from them.”

Their latest meetup was about ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles, which talks about an aristocrat around 1917 under house arrest in Russia, which connects well with the current situation of Covid-19 and lockdown.

Bring Your Own Book 

The Bengaluru chapter of Bring Your Own Book that has been running since 2016, has been doing online book discussions and meetups, since March. In this club open to the public, the meetups are done every month, with around 20 members attending them. 

Rashmi Swamy, one of the administrators of the city’s chapter says, “Anyone can read any book they like, talk about them for around 5 to 10 minutes, which is followed by a discussion that includes opinions and other book suggestions.”

The meetings often go on for three hours. “We are trying to limit the time a bit as we don’t want to contribute to an online fatigue, but most meetings stretch to that time,” she says. Of challenges faced in online meetups compared to face-to-face discussions, people logging off or leaving midway due to responsibilities, are some. “The positive side is that many who’ve not been able to attend meetings offline, due to distance or other reasons have been able to make it.” The club also has a WhatsApp group which has continuous discussions about books.

Dialogues with Books

Dialogues Cafe which has a book club called ‘Dialogues with Books’ has been hosting a meeting every month.

Ruqaiyyah Abuwala, community manager at the club says, “A different theme is selected every month, community members decide the theme for the next meeting at the end of every gathering.”

Community facilitators decide about what elements are included and will be avoided in the larger theme. “For example, one of our past meetups was about graphic novels, where webcomics and Instagram comics were avoided.” During the pandemic, the club has hosted sessions on Indian regional literature, protest literature, Latin American literature and graphic novels.

Unlike the offline meetup, the online ones do not include readings, but more of discussions. “More related links and videos of the topic are shared during the session,” she adds.

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