In the age of social media and incessant scrolling, ‘Hyderabad Reads’ – a free-for-all book reading community in the city encourages people to drop their phones and return to their books.
With the intent of building a quiet reading community across India, this initiative was started by Shruti Sah and Harsh Snehanshu in Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park in December 2022. ‘Cubbon Reads’ set the stage for similar book reading communities to emerge in other States, for instance Lodhi Reads in Delhi, Victoria Memorial Reads in Kolkata, Vijayawada Reads, Gurgaon Reads, and several others. Every city has different curators managing and handling the community through social media pages.
Hyderabad Reads is curated by Md. Nusrath Ali Quadri, who works in Amazon and Biswarupa Barik, who is a college student. It began in May this year and is organised every Saturday. As many as 150 readers gather at KBR Park from 4.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. with their choice of books, snacks, mats, and are also encouraged to bring friends and families.
Providing a literary oasis to readers, KBR Park simply charges ₹45 entry fee; neither the park nor the curators charge any of the readers. “We are not doing this for any kind of profit, we’re doing this for a fulfilling time and spreading joy through reading books once again in the age of PDFs, Kindles, tablets and mobile phones. Readers not only engage with books but also with each other, we have seen many readers connecting here at KBR Park and forming new friendships. It’s always wonderful to see two people bring the same book by chance and bond over it,” Mr. Quadri told The Hindu.
When they were setting up the community, Mr. Quadri and Ms. Barik took assistance from the curators of Cubbon Reads and now the Hyderabad Reads page on Instagram has gained over 3,000 followers in just four months. “It’s an escape from reality, you spend the whole week working your regular jobs and on the weekends you come and sit under a tree to read. Some readers want to extend beyond 7 p.m. and read and chat more, even when there’s no natural light, so I would say it’s been a huge success,” he said.