By all measures, in a city like Madurai, having 50 plus audience on a Sunday evening for the inaugural meeting of a book club formed by college students is noteworthy. Credit goes to the key motivator Aswathy Shivani and her core group of friends, Sharon, Arushi and Varsha.
Serious about connecting with readers, the young girls successfully launched “Between The Covers”, book and a movie club – with much hope, many smiles and fabulous fellowship. “We want to kindle the enthusiasm of reading among high school and college students,” says an excited Aswathy.
The first meeting last Sunday was an open call to all friends and friends of friends to explain how and what to handle as Book Club members. The girls want to keep the group small and informal so as to enable every member to give their opinion during the three hours that they are going to meet every third week.
People who love to read and those who don’t read, for both this will be the right place to get started, promises Aswathy. The members are thinking up ways to explore a whole world of literature fiction and non-fiction the fun way.
Normally activities of a book club are associated with English literature students. So how did Aswathy, a First year B.Com student in Lady Doak College, get so drawn to the idea? “My dad doesn’t read much but he introduced me to a variety of books at an early age and I got into the habit of reading,” she says. But as academics took priority and the time to read storybooks shrunk, Aswathy started discussing with her father about how to reverse the situation. Many thoughts came up like asking friends what books they were reading or getting to know the story from them.
“As it is, we have little time and many times we don’t know whether a particular book is good,” points out Aswathy. So when a friend of hers recommended her to read “The Kite Runner” by Khalid Hosseini, the idea struck her that this was the way they could help each other where everybody’s participation in any book-related activity is important.
Overnight she discussed with her best buddies and the idea of a book club was born. The design, colours and pattern of a logo and the flier came up much easily in their minds because they all shared the same passion for reading.
Soon friends in their own college and other campuses were told about the book club. “We contacted our old school friends, family friends and urged them to at least think about our book club not as a harrowing exercise but as an enrichment,” says Aswathy.
With one time registration fee of Rs.500, the members unanimously select a book for every meeting. All those who attend a meeting will recommend books of their choice and out of those one will be chosen for discussion in the next meeting. Books which have been made into big motion pictures will also be screened over snacks. And if there is no movie made based on that book, then the time allotted will be creatively used for guest lectures or question webs and puzzles, all related to the selected book, that will be bought by the club and given to every member three weeks in advance to read.
As we delve further and discuss more, we will understand why some books are more appealing and others are not, notes Aswathy, and our meetings may spark imagination and even give birth to writers of the future. A pet lover and a music lover, Aswathy is fond of reading biographies and autobiographies and science thrillers. But this kind of interaction at the Book Club meeting will introduce her to different genres of reading and she can’t wait for it to unfurl.
Since an interesting combination of people turned up for the first meeting, it was divided into multiple ice breaking sessions. A medico by profession and editor of Rotary’s monthly journal, Dr.Ponmeera was invited to give a guest lecture on how books transformed her and helped her becoming a changed person. She spoke about inspiring literary works and her favourite authors J.K.Rowling and Ashok Banker.
Those who had already read ‘The Kite Runner’ spoke about why they liked the book about a father and son story set against tumultuous events such as fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the rise of the Taliban regime.
Aswathy along with her friends is confident that the book club will not only help to cultivate reading habit but also foster life long friendships and deep sense of community. “Finding a right book that will stoke your interest in reading,” says Aswathy, “is as important as sharing your reading experience.”
The young team assures nobody will feel out of place in ‘Between The Covers’ as everybody will find something to take away from the nourishing discussions and interaction.
( Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to tell her about someone you know who is making a difference)