Senior Reading Raccoons (SRR), a nationwide online reading group with over 26,000 members, has ensured that the pleasure of reading is kept alive, even in the age of smartphones and social media. In fact, rather than being the detriment to the joys of reading – as the popular narratives claim – SRR has proven that social media can actually add to the joy of reading, by allowing you to network and discuss books with other readers. It began as a Facebook group, but regular meet-ups of the members are taking place – initially only in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, but now also in Kochi.
Senior Reading Raccoons began with Reading Raccoons, a brainchild of Tanu Shree Singh, a professor of psychology who has set up two libraries and written the book Keep Calm and Mommy On. She had originally intended it for discussions on children’s books. "The boys used to read a lot and my friends were constantly asking what books to get, genres, authors, what the boys liked and what they didn’t. So, I created the group to basically avoid repeating the list all the time," she says. "Gradually, it grew to what it is today. Then, the folks of Reading Raccoons started wishing for a group for grown-ups."
Kochi has always been a city with voracious readers and so, it isn’t surprising that a number of people from the city have shown enthusiasm for participation in the group. In the past few months, several meet-ups have been held, with people from all over Kochi and other parts of Kerala present to discuss books across various genres and by different authors. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, a work of breathtaking fantasy and magical realism, was the book under discussion during the last meet-up, which had ended in a visit to the Blossoms bookstore and lunch. "I, personally, value such discussions as we hardly have anything similar in the city," says Harris Ali, a group member. "I am open to such gatherings anytime." He also mentions the Cochin Book Club, a similar online reading group exclusive to people from Kochi, which he often uses to spread the word about the SRR meet-ups.
These meet-ups provide a number of people a much-needed respite from their busy daily lives. Senior Reading Raccoons has given a platform to people with similar literary interests and the offline meet-ups have fostered friendly discussions and great times in a unique way.