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According to the survey titled Readers round the world conducted by World Culture Score Index in 2011, India tops the world with 10 hours and 42 minutes of reading per week per person, followed by Thailand (09:42), China (08:00), Russia (07:06), USA (05:42) and the least being Korea (03:06). Now when we live in a country which tops the world in time spent on reading, necessity calls for the rise of Literary Guardians who can ensure that people’s reading-time is spent worthily. Those who can take up the responsibility of steering readers to wonderful works and admirable authors have to step in and help people celebrate the spirit of literature. This is exactly how Delhi Book Club chips in.
Delhi Book Club, started on 15th January, 2012 is now heading for its second anniversary. ‘A theme based episodic book club’ is what they aptly call themselves. Every month they choose a theme/author for that month’s meet. Now I am bound to mention about the quality of their choices, but the quality’s so sublime that I’ve parked an entire paragraph for it coming later. Though they insist members on reading content related to a particular theme, they value freedom and let them read anything that interests them which is related in any way to that theme.
Aakanksha Kulkarni, a major force behind Delhi Book Club says “When I started, I was afraid of the diversity the group would attract and how it would be so difficult to tame the discussion or get it to one plane to suit and interest everyone. Hence, I decided to make the book club a theme based book club. It was done for 2 reasons: 1. So that under a particular theme, one reads a book according to one’s own level of reading and 2. Members can take back many more flavors to explore with every meet they attend.”
They meet often in public parks, restaurants, cafes and convention centers, and when I gaze at their pictures I get a feeling that those locations are somehow miraculously set for singing lovely lullabies of literature. By Aakanksha’s description, a Delhi Book Club meeting essentially has a moderator, usually a person who is the most passionate and most well-read on that particular topic or author. H/She moderates the discussion by starting off the discussion vector and holding its steering throughout. Each member speaks about the book he reads and there are no rules or formats on how to articulate as the club believes that a good creative discussion sprouts not from suffocative prescriptions but from ventilative freedom. Each person gets to speak their part and the discussion furthers reaching out to more topics related to the theme: related movies, relevant experiences, etc.; and hence the meet ends up becoming a nutritious and thirst-quenching river of knowledge for the members to drink from.
What distinguishes Delhi Book Club from its peers is the superior quality of their choices of themes and authors. Take for a start the Rushdie Meet; how could I miss that! Victor Hugo, the man (why not call him God?) who wrote Les Miserables. Somerset Maugham, have you read The Razor’s Edge? Russian Literature, Oh boy! Leo Tolstoy. Nobel Prize Winners, forget not that Bertrand Russell won Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. Oscar Wilde! Don’t we want to go all the way to Paris, shake his grave with all our strength and wake him from death only to beg him to start writing again? Edgar Allen Poe, my Favorite. Dear reader, now having read this name, stand up in respect, throw him a salute and say ‘I shall never forget your poems. Nevermore!’
Look at their choices. Brilliant! See their pictures. Splendid! Lie not, be frank. Don’t you crave to be there with them in Delhi discussing your favorite author? And when you can’t attend the meet, don’t you feel like letting out tears which twinkle in the light of your love for literature?
Retrospect on what Delhi Book Club does. How simple it does seem, yet how noble it indeed is. If I were an atheist, I would say ‘God doesn’t exist, so he can’t do anything for Literature, but I am glad that you people really exist and are doing something for it’. If I were a theist, I would say ‘God bless you folks for all that you are doing for Literature and may His kingdom reserve a place for you after you die.’ But since I am agnostic, I say ‘God be there or not, you guys are doing a great job and none can deny that.’
Want to join them? This is where you can find them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/delhibookclub/
-written by Lakshmikanth Koundinya