A very useful list of book clubs
Editor’s note: Nirmal and Anannya decided to do something a little different for this week’s Read section. Here’s a sampling of good book clubs for anyone who is looking for a community of bookworms. It is not a definitive list but enough to get you started? Think we missed someone? Do give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you want something online…
Karuna’s Kitaab Club: Author-poet Karuna Ezara Parikh from Kolkata is quite the literati star on Instagram thanks to her poetry and book recommendations. She has started her own virtual book club called Karuna’s Kitaab Club on Instagram this year. She says: “I simply thought it might be fun to formalise it, so that many readers could discover a book together. I have also been concerned by the drop in fiction reading, and decided to push that [at my club].”
The books to be read are announced on the first day of every month. On the last weekend, they host an online convo with the author and Parikh. Questions from readers are collected beforehand via Instagram and the Discord channel, but you can also ask them spontaneously during the convo. Sessions with the authors are recorded and released as podcasts on Spotify. To join their Discord channel, you can reach out to them on Instagram.
The Indian Book Club: IBC is a virtual book club—open to people of all ages and all reading habits. The languages are limited to English and Hindi. There are different groups that readers join—some are based on a specific book and others are genre-based. The timeline to meet is collectively decided by readers depending on everyone’s reading speed, and it is usually on a video call. The membership with IBC costs Rs 99 per month. To know more, you can reach out to them on their Instagram account.
The Abstract Room: This is an online platform started in June 2020 for lovers of film, literature and art. The membership is priced between Rs 300 to 400 per month—depending on the tier you choose. Every month, they conduct 10-15 online sessions that include discussions of films and books, poetry meets and music sessions. The member-only sessions are more intimate and are a great way for members to connect with one another.
For book clubbers in Delhi…
Babelfish Book Club: This book club is an initiative by Westland Books. They focus on translated fiction from across the globe and only began their sessions in June this year. They have an exclusive book partner—Midland Books in Aurobindo Market–and you can get a 25% member discount on book of the month. They announce meet-up locations and times on their Twitter account. You can use this form to sign up.
Silent Book Club: A group of readers in New Delhi schedule time every month to meet at a cafe, restaurant or public park to just silently sit and read–together. The club was started by Rachna Kalra—a communication and marketing professional—in September 2019. She tells Indian Express, “The idea is to get people back to reading and build a community that enjoys being together to read and talk about books—conversation is optional. l liked the idea of creating an ambience that encourages people to read.” The book club usually meets on Sundays once a month, with details of the venue shared by Kalra on her Instagram account. There is no membership fee.
For book clubbers in Mumbai…
TWC Book Club: This is a monthly book club hosted by the White Crow Books & Coffee shop in Jio World Drive in Mumbai. Their book club meetings generally consist of discussions about the book’s characters, plot and literary themes—and, at times, fun literary games. The club puts aside time for silent reading on occasion. They publish details about the book of the month and the timings of the meetup on their Instagram page. If you need a copy of the book, you can DM them there after registering on their form. They can have it delivered to your doorstep.
Bandra Reads: This reading community organises silent outdoor reading sessions every Sunday from 8.30 to 10.30 am at Joggers Park. Readers can come and leave at any time—and even stay for conversations or selfies after the event is done. They are a non-commercial and non-promotional community. They do not take any fee and don't collect any data via forms. They also don't have any group or channel besides their Instagram page. You can bring along any reading material you prefer—a newspaper, magazine, comics or a letter. They recommend bringing a newspaper or mat to sit on.
Kitab Klub: This is a monthly book club created by the bookstore—Kitab Khana in Fort, Mumbai. It is hosted by Aloka Gambhir and readers can register for it on this form. There is a fee for each event of Rs 200. They announce the book of the month and the timings on their Instagram page.
Broke Bibliophiles of Bombay: This group has a buzzing Instagram page with details of all the different types of events they conduct—including author convos, book launches and even lit fests. They also have more informal events that involve meeting at a restaurant, talking about yourself/reading habits and hanging out. You can RSVP on this form for their next event on October 8—a conversation with Devika Rege, the author of ‘Quarterlife.’ It also has a QR code for their WhatsApp group.
For book clubbers in Bangalore…
Broke Bibliophiles Bangalore: This club is a similar version of the Mumbai chapter, but all Broke Bibliophiles chapters function and operate individually. This one started in 2017 and has grown to become one of the most popular book clubs in Bangalore. On the 4th or last Sunday of every month, there is a physical meetup at the bookstore Bookworm. It is limited in number and you need to purchase a ticket online.
There is no one specific book/theme assigned to any meeting. The open format allows people to freely talk about books and genres they love. At the end, the recommendations are all collated by the organiser, Abhiram. You can check out their Twitter if you want to be notified about the next meeting.
Cubbon Book Club: Cubbon Book Club was kickstarted by two people (Preksha and Ankit) who were new to Bangalore, and wanted to engage with the community in the city and make new friends. They decided to get people to discuss books in the outdoors. The book club meets on the last Sunday of every month in the open space of Cubbon Park. There is no rigid structure to the meetings. The organisers facilitate initial introductions among the larger group, and eventually, the group breaks out into smaller groups to discuss similar interests.
The club also has a bustling WhatsApp community where members discuss books, and quizzes, share photos, travel tips and so much more. You can check out their Twitter and Instagram handles to get more details and join the group.
Cubbon Reads: Shruthi and Harsh set up a page called Cubbon Reads which invited people to come to Cubbon Park with their books and read. It has grown into a community of hundreds of readers who gather every Saturday from 9 AM to 2 PM, with their mats, books, foldable chairs and books. They sit under the trees and just silently read. This isn’t a club. It is a reading community. No one discusses books, nor are there rules around the type of books you should get to the reading session.
Point to note: There are many other chapters in Bangalore and in 25 other cities which are affiliated with Cubbon Reads. You can find the details on their Instagram page.
For book clubbers in Chennai…
Poonga Book Club: In 2017, Lavanya and Chenthil began this club in the Semmozhi Poonga park. Every month, the club chooses a theme, be it food, classical music or graphic novels. You can talk about what you’ve read, or even just listen in. The group meets on the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm in the park. Lawyer Bhargavi Ravi, who joined Poonga in 2020 tells the New Indian Express, “There are all kinds of readers—ones who are terrifyingly well-read in multiple languages, re-read Crime and Punishment, who have read the most mind-numbingly difficult books and re-read them. Or you can come in with a fluffy romance, or not knowing about poetry.” You can find more information on their website and Twitter account.
Bessy Reads: Inspired by Cubbon Reads, Sanjana Patnaik and Kruthika Kumar started a community promoting silent reading since it was “surprisingly difficult to find like-minded, fellow readers in Chennai.” They conduct their meetings every Sunday from 6 to 9 am at Besant Nagar Beach. They update their Instagram page every week regarding the exact location of their next meeting.
Chennai Reads: This silent reading community meets up on Sunday afternoons in Gandhi Mandapam in Guindy on Sundays between 4 to 6pm. You can find updates on their Instagram page or join their WhatsApp community here.
Bonus recommendation: Residents of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Jamnagar can also check out Bring Your Own Book Club. Their newsletter is the best way to be notified of their monthly meetups. You can sign up for it here.