For a bibliophile, the urge to discuss a book is almost as strong as the urge to read books. Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Delhi gives Delhi’s booklovers a chance to do just that, and more.
At BYOB, a readers club-cum-member-curated library, book lovers across age groups and vocations ditch their usual weekend social gatherings in favour of their collective passion – reading. They come together to know each other through the books they love, and know books, through the members who bring them to the club.
BYOB Delhi, which turns one in August this year,was created when Nidhi Srivastava, presently working as a freelance writer, was looking for a book club which would allow her to read and discuss the books she had read. What she wanted was something a little different from the readers’ clubs, which typically assign one book to their members and then the discussion is centred around that book. The problem with such an arrangement, Nidhi felt, is that readers tend to sleep on the book assigned by the club, or feel unmotivated to go through with a book which they might not be interested in. At BYOB, members can vote for the themes they’d like the club to discuss, and also request books on their website (which they receive in return for a book they lend to the club library).
“BYOB”, says Nidhi “has cumulatively seen a turnout of about 100 members this year”, and at least 30 of them are regulars. Like new member Harsh Mathur, who joined the club last month. “The first meet I attended was on Women’s Writing, and I liked it enough to come back for a second meet. I’ve already started reading for the next meeting,” he says. “The good thing about BYOB is that you can always ask the club library and members to lend you a book that you want to read.”
The frequency of the meetings varies from weekly to fortnightly. In summer, the group meets at cafes or at a member’s house, whereas in winters the discussion moves to the sunny lawns of Lodhi Gardens or Nehru Park. Themes for discussions have included women’s writing and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. “Without consciously having set out to do so, the club’s thrust has been towards finding and discussing more Indian authors writing on subjects that are not popular in mainstream publishing, like feminist and queer literature,” says 25-year-old Shashank Bhargava, one of the first members of the club and a former publishing professional.
The theme for the next meeting, scheduled for Sunday, is Queer Books and Authors. “I wanted to explore queer literature, not so much as a ‘cause’ from a social-activist point of view, but more as a literary genre,” says 24-year-old Tanya Singh who has conceptualised the Queer Books and Authors event. “We put the idea to vote and most of our members showed a lot of enthusiasm, partly because feminism has been an overriding theme of our last few discussions. We wanted to take that further with queer literature.” Readers have been suggested to look for books which not only have queer protagonists, but where these protagonists are coloured. To sign up for the event, fill out a form on the BYOB website (delhi.bringyourownbook.org), and remember to read and take a book to the club! Membership is free and books can be borrowed for a period of three months. Defaulters need to bring cupcakes for penalty.
The theme for next week’s discussion is Read A Book in Another Language.
What: Queer Books and Authors - Bring Your Own Book club
When: Sunday, June 12, 3pm – 7pm.
Where: New Moti Bagh
For details call: 9717660962 or mail at firstname.lastname@example.org