Started by someone with the pseudonym of Ritesh Agarwal, Book Deals for Broke Bibliophiles was an online page to let people know about book deals. Soon after, physical chapters with meet-ups were started in different cities and in 2017, Abhiram R and Radhika Chauhan started the Bangalore chapter.
Talking about how it works, Abhiram says, “I create an event on eventbrite.com; the number of attendees is capped at 20. This is because if there are too many people at the meet-up, it gets a bit much to manage. I want everyone to be able to talk. We stress upon the fact that they should talk about how the book made them feel; it’s not about reading the blurb.”
As for how the club functions, he says, “We tried other things but now it’s about talking about whatever you read. We have a bunch of regular readers and so they talk about what they are reading in the month. If they are new, they generally talk about their interests and so on.”
Adding that author Ram Sivasankaran came in, Abhiram says, “It’s been serendipitous that authors have found us instead of the other way around. We are always looking for more authors to come in so we can pick their brains.”
Members of iBrowse, the earlier iteration of the book club run by Marianne de Nazareth, would meet at Catholic Club. With Book Bound, started in 2018, the members meet on the terrace of Marianne’s house on Richmond Road.
Says Marianne, “There are two ways. One is we discuss any particular book which we read and enjoyed. Two, once in a way I have an author come in who will introduce their book, and read passages from it while I kind of facilitate. Then the floor is thrown open so that everyone can ask questions. And either we ask a book shop to come and sell the books or the author himself brings the books.”
She adds, “There is a core group of 20 to 25 members. Our book club is very open and relaxed; there is no pointing fingers. There is a lot of camaraderie because we have been together for nine years now.”
Book Masala was born in 2012 when author Milan Vohra was looking for a book club where people had actually read the book and would discuss it. “I also wanted a book club that allowed me to be with friends and also pushed me beyond my comfort zone in terms of what I would be reading.”
Stating that she wanted to ensure that it was democratic, she says, “In some book clubs, if there is one person who has founded it, they tend to decide the book. Or in some other book clubs, they don’t necessarily read the book but they invite an author to come and talk. A third variant was having a lecture series that one had to pay for. In Book Masala, one person volunteers to moderate or I ask them to. The moderator suggests three or four books and then we vote on what the book is for the month.”
She adds, “I haven’t let the number of members cross 25. So that at any point of time, even if half of them attend, that is a good size and makes for a good discussion where we can hear each other out.”
Rohini Malur, who has been running the Atta Galatta Book Club since October last year, says that the book club goes by themes every month not one specific book that everyone reads.
“This means that even if you find out that the meet-up is tomorrow, you can still bring something from that theme to talk about and go back with book recommendations on that. The next session is going to be on magical people.”
Stating that her only hobby is reading, Rohini says, “But that may not be the case with everybody for various reasons. What a book club does is set a kind of structure like ‘okay, I have to read this book and discuss it with other people’. It takes it from being a solitary experience to a social experience. It helps you connect with other people while you are reading.”
She adds, “Something I try to do in the book club is to say that we do not apologise for our opinions. If you like something that is not mainstream, that’s okay. You have the right to come here and talk about it. There is no judgement; it’s a loving, sharing space.”