Book smart

Updated: Apr 04, 2020, 10:12 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Unite with readers across the world though online book clubs. We pick five to suit all interests

Tatjana Chen with members of the Susegad Book Club
Tatjana Chen with members of the Susegad Book Club

While reading a book might be a solitary exercise, it builds up an itch for discussion. And in times like these when people are longing to bond with others outside of their homes, the need to nurture a shared love for activities like reading has become more important. Online book clubs usually function in two ways: by selecting a particular book per week or month and having its community read and discuss it online, or by letting readers share their favourite titles and review current reads. They enable you to find your niche by being genre-specific, too. Here are our best picks.

For nature lovers

Prerna Singh Bindra, conservationist and author of The Vanishing had been contemplating starting an online book club for a while. But the ongoing scenario that has provoked many to return to reading and hearing the chirping of birds, led her to start one this month via a Twitter account called Reading Nature. "I have been inspired by nature books and they have played a key role in my writing. We'll be picking one book each month for discussion. This Sunday, we'll be generating ideas as to what book to pick — one of the suggestions is Kalidasa's Meghaduta, while I'm rooting for Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It embodies what writing can achieve; it is evocative and not just dry science," she says.

Log on to @prernabindra on Twitter; @ReadingNature on Twitter

For fiction

It's hard to run into somebody who isn't a fan of fiction. So with popular online book clubs centred on the genre, discussions might end up as an overload of opinions. We spotted Goa's Susegad Book Club on Instagram that went online last month. It is helmed by Tatjana Chen, a German national who moved to India seven years ago and worked in Mumbai before settling in Goa. A hotelier by profession, Chen started the book club in February after observing a paucity of the kind in the sunshine state as opposed to those in Mumbai where she didn't quite fit in.

The group of about eight people would meet twice a month in Panjim to discuss a mix of Indian and international titles.

Prerna Singh Bindra
Prerna Singh Bindra

"Our second online session is next Saturday, where we talk about Once Upon A Curfew by Srishti Chaudhary who will be joining us, too. Although the session is open to anyone around the world, they need to read the book," she says. While the first online session conducted during the lockdown was a success, Chen, 34, is open to the idea of making it a permanent feature.

"People from Mumbai and Delhi had participated in the previous discussion. I'd like to see how many non-Goans warm up to this now. I've already received queries from readers in smaller cities in Tamil Nadu and Kashmir," she informs.

Log on to @susegadbookclub on Instagram

For non-fiction

The Non-Fiction Book Club

of India has strict guidelines to be followed on its Facebook group — prohibiting users from posting self-promotional content or posting a quote or picture of a book without sharing your thoughts on it. If you wish to join the group, you need to answer a question on the last non-fiction title you read and describe it in two to
three lines.

Log on to The Non-Fiction Book Club of India on Facebook

For comic books

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It is a popular belief that this genre is associated with nothing else but Marvel and DC superheroes. But that's certainly not the idea you get while browsing through The Comic Book Club on Instagram. With reviews provided by five admins, you can find everything from Daredevil and Darth Vader to indie comics like The Saturn Effect and TKO Studios's The Banks. Don't forget to discuss your thoughts in the comments.

Log on to @the_comic_book_club on Instagram

For kids

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KidLitPicks Book Club is an Instagram page and a community of over 25,000 people. It is perfect for kids and picture book lovers with mini crowd-sourced reviews (put up by users who hashtag kidlitpicks) that are a delight to read even if you're not interested in the genre. You can spot one about a giant jam sandwich and another on a magic bookshop. Also, since the page is filled with colour, you might just get addicted to scrolling.

Log on to @kidlitpicks on Instagram

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