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  Life   More Features  29 Mar 2017  For the love of books

For the love of books

Published : Mar 29, 2017, 12:06 am IST
Updated : Mar 29, 2017, 6:39 am IST

As Books on Toast gets ready to host a quiz for bookworms in the city, Anuya Jakatdar talks about building a community of lit fans.

Rohan Joshi with Anuya and Sharin
 Rohan Joshi with Anuya and Sharin

It was when Anuya Jakatdar was studying abroad that she hit upon the idea of starting a book donation drive. “The local library held a sale. For me, it was great; I spent $8 and bought 27 books! And that joy of discovery was so great that when I came back, I wanted to replicate the idea here and make books available for throwaway prices,” she reminisces.

And thus was born Books on Toast. Initially started with the idea of serving book lovers, the platform has grown to accommodate a growing of community readers with online and offline activities.

Now, Anuya and Sharin Bhatti, the co-owner of The Cuckoo Club, have joined hands to conduct The Big Book Quiz on March 30, to bring together bookworms for a literary quiz. “It’s something we want to do on a monthly basis now,” says Anuya. “We basically just want to get a bunch of readers and have fun. The question was, ‘how could we create a monthly engagement session where readers could have fun?’. Hence this.”

For the quiz, Books on Toast has joined hands with three Mumbai-based book clubs — Bring Your Own Book (BYOB), T.A.R{who}D.I.S, and Broke Bibliophiles — to make the event a little more interesting. Besides the three teams, a fourth team will be able to participate in a quiz, which will consist of members from the audience itself.

“The book clubs were willing to come on board almost instantly. Look, people are dying for something that fuels reading. They’re dying to have some fun. The book clubs are great fun, especially T.A.R{who}D.I.S. They have a lot of science-fiction links, know what they’re talking about, and are massive readers themselves, of course. Getting the book clubs on board was the easier part. The tough part was to get people to buy tickets,” adds Anuya with a laugh.

Besides a ro-cur Twitter handle, where book lovers take charge of Books on Toast’s account and talk about interesting aspects of literature they love, Anuya and Sharin also host a weekly podcast that has already played host to some of the city’s popular stand-up comedians and bibliophiles such as Kaneez Surka, Ashish Shakya and Kanan Gill.

However, it’s stand-up comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath’s video podcast with the team, titled ‘Books we couldn’t finish’ that’s been most popular, grins Anuya. “Kanan’s comes a close second, though,” she says. “Our episode, out today, with Rohan Joshi is about TV shows turned into books. Here, we talk about Dexter, True Blood, Game of Thrones, etc. The whole topic started because Neil Gaiman’s American Gods TV show will be on air in April.”

And the idea has been a hit. “We thought we’d get people that others already listen to and explore their reader side. Maybe if they talk about books that they love, it’ll take away that erudition from being a reader. And the reaction has been like ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know Kanan Gill reads’,” she says. “And we get messages from people who had stopped reading, or didn’t read at all, wanting to start reading again. And honestly, nothing works better than videos to reach out to audiences. It’s all about gifs, memes, and videos these days.”

Despite the multiple properties Books on Toast has dabbled in, the idea behind starting multiple regular events across platforms has remained to serve the love of all things books. “The core idea is to make books more fun. To take it away from the lit-fest, super erudite, exclusive space and make it inclusive and interesting to all. That’s the idea. Make it cool to talk about books, not just letting it be an intellectual exercise,” she signs off.

On March 30, 8 pm onwards, at The Cuckoo Club, Bandra
Entry: Rs 200 for students and Rs 400 regular

Tags: library, books