Attendees bring their books, both physical and electronic, and quietly read for a couple of hours. No discussions, no book exchangesjust a sacred communion with literature. (Image: DC)
A tranquil revolution is sweeping through Hyderabad, one page at a time. Picture this: a gathering of young and old, nestled amidst the lush greenery of KBR Park, Gandipet Park and Walker’s Track Park in Sainikpuri, each lost in their own world, silently engrossed in the magic of books. This isn’t your typical book club; it’s a reading community, an unspoken pact to find solace in words.
We all need a sangha (community) of people to help us strengthen our practices. Whether its yoga or running or dancing or reading. Hyderabad Reads offers a beautiful quiet space under the open sky where one can sit on grass, connect with nature and do mindful reading. This is unique and need of the hour. Mindfulness is very essential for our health and well-being. Equally important is our connection with our community. After an hour or two of reading, we get to talk and meet with other readers, learn about different authors and bond over chai" — Harshitha Soni, Yoga guru, part of KBR Reads
Meet Hyderabad Reads, a collective of literary enthusiasts who have harnessed the power of silent reading to create an inclusive, non-invasive haven for bibliophiles. As the sun sets over the city, they convene every Saturday from 4.30 pm to 7 pm at KBR Park and Sainikpuri, united by a shared love for the written word. The Gandipet readers, on the other hand, bask in the morning sun, gathering at the serene Gandipet Park every Sunday from 9 am to 11 am.
Two or three folks were coming every week in the beginning. Now it’s at least 8-10. We are a small group, and the rains didn’t help. We’re hoping for sunny days and more participants" — Srichandana, co-curator, Gandipet Reads
But what exactly happens during these silent reading sessions? Well, it’s refreshingly simple: attendees bring their books, both physical and electronic, and quietly read for a couple of hours. No discussions, no book exchanges—just a sacred communion with literature. The magic lies in the unity of purpose, the unspoken camaraderie shared among strangers. This trend of silent reading didn’t originate in Hyderabad but found its roots in Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park. Sloka Chandra, a 23-year-old enthusiast, and Priyanka Peeramsetty, 31, were drawn to this movement and sought to bring it to Hyderabad.
"Both of us had a common goal, so we wanted to join forces to build a community of like-minded and interested people. This is a safe and inclusive space, where both the young and the old are welcome, where people from the queer community can belong to. We hope to build a community where the young and old, friends and strangers find a safe and inclusive space," shares Sloka. Even though Sloka has moved away from the city, for further studies, her heart remains intertwined with Hyderabad Reads.
It’s lovely to feel the inclusivity. People with wheelchairs also showed up. However, lately, we have been experiencing a lot of resistance from parks across the city. It’s all about trust; people are not used to groups coming together and being silent. Park authorities come and check our bags, and they have problems if we carry iPads. I feel all this is stemming from a misplaced sense of fear. Our group is non-obligatory and non-imposing. Some readers come for only one session, while others come week after week. We are steadily growing and aspire to spread this healthy habit across the city." — Priyanka Peeramsetty, co-founder & curator, Hyderabad Reads
Hyderabad Reads is more than just a reading club; it’s about reclaiming public spaces peacefully and inclusively. Everyone is welcome—young and old, each session sees participants armed with books and water bottles, each engrossed in their literary worlds. Some may opt for a meal or coffee after the session, but most prefer the solitude of reading. Rules are minimal but vital—bring a book, maintain hushed tones if necessary, and be considerate of others. The objective? Monotony. To cherish life’s simple pleasures and make reading a habit. When 30 or more individuals gather in a public space to read silently, it becomes a powerful visual that encourages others to join in.