Rediscovering the lost passion through Malleshwaram Book Club

So what do you get when you have an eager reader with a ticking mind and time on her hands!

– A Book Club!

Reading has always been a pleasant diversion for me. In the 70s, during my childhood, (as for many children who spent their childhood in the 70s),  Enid Blyton took me through adventures, fantasies, enchanted lands and the most fascinating journeys across places that I could only fancy going to.

This progressed, as one would imagine, to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew mysteries and Mills and Boons. However, as the years rolled by, studies, marriage, children and work consumed my time and the reading habit was lost.

Years later, after two grown-up children and a break from working life, I began connecting with friends and with books. I realised that most of my friends from childhood had moved on either mentally or physically. As for reading, I realised that I was woefully challenged in my attention span. I could barely get by a few pages before I felt brain-tired. Watching television for hours on end or idle gossip weren’t appealing options.

Somehow, in fact it seems unclear now, as to how the thought of a book club crept in. A book club seemed like a great way to make new like-minded friends.

I began talking to people and gathering information on the best way to start such a club. It was when I was voicing this thought to Geeta Navle, a well-known Veena player in Bengaluru and a good friend, that she offered a cozy basement room at her office (Guruskool) and told me:, “Hold the club meetings at my place and call it The Malleshwaram Book Club. There can’t be a better brand name!”

And that’s how it started.

Then, while on a walk by Sankey’s Tank, I mentioned it to an acquaintance and she signed in right away. Gladly, she brought in a friend of hers as well. And soon members began to come in. Most members were from Malleshwaram, other than one member so far, a professional artist and an ardent reader, who regularly travels all the way from Frazer Town to attend the meetings.

As the club took shape, and the monthly discussions began, it seemed like it was more likely to be an ‘all woman’ club. Geeta and Gopal Navle have lent their unflinching support as willing and warm hosts to the book club since the start.  The club now meets once a month on Saturday afternoons at Guruskool in Malleshwaram.

Some members are ardent readers and speak their thoughts openly while others are good listeners. The club doesn’t have a membership fee, just a love for books and an amiable nature are qualifiers. Month after month, books are enthusiastically devoured and discussed. Books are chosen by unanimous consent.

While one afternoon was spent in an active discussion on the ways of life during the Mughal Empire based on the Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, another evening ushered in a meditative talk on the importance of self-love with a talk by an expert on that subject, based on The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Biographies such as ‘The life of Elizabeth I’ gave brilliant insights into 16th Century Britain while The Girl on the Train, Eat Pray Love, The Palace of Illusions and The Vegetarian gave us a glimpse into the minds of successful and boldly different women writers.

It has been over a year now and the club has over fifteen active members who have become good friends too. Not only do we meet to discuss books, we go to concerts, plays, movies and lunches together too. On the whole, a cheerful bunch of gainfully occupied, intelligent women who are unlikely to rust away or get jaded in a hurry!

As testimony, here is what some of the members had to say about our club:

“I enjoy being a part of the book club meetings.…. My interest in reading and analyzing a book has widened. Now while reading a book, I keep thinking of the different ways in which one can look at what has been written” – Leela.

“The book club has helped me overcome my inhibitions of talking to a group of people. It has instilled a quiet confidence that helps me put my point of view across, without feeling defensive or fearing what others will think. My world that was a closed oyster has now opened up to fantastic possibilities.” – Kavita.

“I have lived in Malleshwaram for 35 years but had very few friends. The book club has brought me a whole new circle of friends. The genre of books that I read has widened. The book club meetings have brought a whole new perspective on how books are looked at.”  – Indira.

“The book club has put me in touch with a nice group of friends who motivate me to improve my interest in reading books.”-Padma.

“I have always loved reading… a chance meeting with Radhika led me to the book club. … transformed my new beginnings at Malleshwaram. … I fell in love with Guruskool… An underground den…beautiful, polished wooden floor, artefacts, musical instruments, a comfortable sofa, chairs and an a/c and a fan to boot. It is the dream of the ideal personal library and study.” – Ratna.  

“Reading has always been a passion. But here, at Malleshwaram Book Club, the live discussions with like-minded, loving friends has helped widen horizons. It has helped me express myself verbally. The discussions are very enriching and I look forward to them each time.” – Sumi.

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