Michelle Obama recently said, “Book clubs are a way we fill our spirits and stimulate our minds.” Bengaluru Chronicle does a round up with city book clubs on what they bring to them.
Ever had that feeling, you finished a book and you just have to talk about it? For the very first time you read Ramayana from Sita’s point of view and you are finding ways to bring it in conversation with the next person you meet? Book clubs serve that purpose and then some more.
Book club meetings are fun. What is a book club without a glass of wine or three? And snacks? Founder of The Literary Circle Amrita Chugh shares “my motivation for starting TLC five years ago was to create a forum that ensured a productive evening which was also fun for everyone present. In TLC, learning and conviviality are well balanced. I think this mix is what has worked well for us over the years. While being serious minded about our commitment to read, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and as a result there is good participation in the discussion and opinions are freely shared and debated”.
Maybe you like crime fiction but not regency romance and robots. We all have our favourite genres and that’s where book clubs come to push. Jeanne Subramaniam says, “What I like best about our book club is being exposed to different points of view and getting new perspectives on issues. Apart from members’ contributions, I’ve learned a lot from reading books like ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ which I wouldn’t have read were it not for TLC.”
In Ladder of the Years by Anne Tyler, a mother to three facing midlife crisis walks away from it all. One could be angry or sympathetic with the protagonist. It is rare to be interested in someone else’s opinions when it is completely different from yours. A spirited debate later you might go home with a different perspective and a friend in that cool new person. Rohini Haldea who founded Bangalore Book Club along with Monika Manchanda adds “It is amazing how the same book can bring very different reactions and it is very interesting to see that. My favourite bit is when people choose to open up and share their lived experiences in the context of the book in question. I feel that I also end up meeting people who are pretty different from me and their perspectives really help to enrich my understanding of the book in particular and life at large.”
How beautiful it is to sit down with a group of people who want to know what you think? They actually want to hear your opinion? And if the characters or the plot has messed up your mind or reminded of a personal experience, there are free hugs and more wine to draw strength from. “For me, book clubs are a Haven, a sacred space in which I can freely express my views, at ease, on a particular read knowing that my audience will understand. These clubs allow for us to go beyond the words and encourage us to think on so many different parallels. ... A solace for all bibliophiles.” shares Baldip Kaur Dham, a member with Bangalore Book Club.
New books, new people, me-time, challenging ideas, self-expression — book clubs provide different things to different people. They can be as silly and serious as one wants them to be, what’s clear is one must keep doing it.