It doesn’t take much for two bibliophiles to connect – like birds of the same fraternity, they sense the familiar blissful solitude a fellow reader basks in when sinking into the arms of a book or merely a thought emanating from one. And when these connections are not just made but nurtured and committed to, a closed circle emerges and fortifies within this wide, unfathomable, testing world, creating an oasis for the bibliophiles within it. Their refuge, their den, their air.

In Chennai, I am blessed to have such a circle. When I mooted the idea of a book club meeting way back in May 2017 on a Facebook group, I hadn’t much inkling of how things would go. But I knew one thing for sure – it wouldn’t hurt. It didn’t; instead, it grew on me. The first meeting quickly turned into a monthly affair and before I knew it, we were catching up at quaint cafes every month and exchanging excited, disappointed, quixotic and enigmatic thoughts over some delicious food and sane drinks.

2018 was the first full calendar year our little Book Club clocked in, and it was fabulous! Some of the highlights were – opening the year with the Hindu Lit Fest and meeting many authors including Jeet Thayil and Vivek Shanbhag; our 1st anniversary meet that was celebrated during April with some lip-smacking cake and a cool black group tee; the pleasure of meeting our book club friends from Bangalore in October- and be the receiver of beautiful books from the generous and warm-hearted trio  and in the concluding month of the year, co-hosting our first-ever book launch event with Sharanya Manivannan launching her book, ‘The Queen of Jasmine Country’.

I went over the photographs we clicked on these wonderful afternoons and evenings and couldn’t resist putting them all together – like a grand collage on an award night.

Because it is, indeed, nothing less than an award season as among many other things, I was awarded FRIENDS. And I am sure many of my fellow bibliophiles were too. We emerged winners.

Here’s to more reading, meeting, sharing and growing in 2019! 

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