It is not surprising that the city of startup culture, the one where every other person has an innovative idea that they think would be the next big thing, is where a cultural movement was born. Cubbon Reads started with a simple idea - a literary community that reads together in silence. As opposed to the traditional book club, the intent of this one wasn’t to read a single book and dissect and discuss it to the nth degree.
Rather, as the first post on the page reads, ‘... A community that doesn't just read one book, but reads different books together. It's the act of reading that brings people together. A book, a mat, a few oranges in the sun amidst trees and dozens of readers around on their respective mats immersed in their books.’ The weekly session of Cubbon Reads is usually timed from 9 AM to 2 PM. Many of the regulars have become friends who lunch together after the meeting.
6 months later, Cubbon Reads has inspired 60 similar chapters globally. While bigger Indian cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai have multiple chapters, the movement has reached smaller cities like Dehradun, Kochi and Pondicherry. It has inspired chapters in US Cities such as Boston, Ashburn, San Jose and more. They even have chapters in London, Paris and Johannesburg. In reverence to intimacy that is innate to the act of reading, while still providing a community setting, Cubbon Reads follows a truly novel model.
According to a recent article about this movement, the latest version of Cubbon Reads drew more than 300 people. In speaking to Indian Express, the founders Harsh Snehanshu and Shruti Sah talked about the crux of the club that differs itself from being a typical book club. For Harsh, typical book clubs consist of less reading and more talking. But in a silent reading community like this, those who are introverted also have a chance to join in, without the pressure of having to talk. This format is their attempt to retain the personal nature of reading. The guidelines of the club specifically mentions that there is no need for awkward pleasantries and discourage bringing chatty friends to the sessions.
By meeting in public parks, the air of the sessions is more relaxed and provides a much-needed public community space that doesn’t require money or the need to meet any criteria. It simply provides a platform for those of diverse backgrounds to form connections. With techies, marketers, students and artists, the people who show up to these are those from across different worlds. In smaller cities like Kochi, where literary and cultural activities are sporadic, a regular event like this is a downright necessity for fostering inclusive offline connections and reclaiming public spaces for all.
You can follow Cubbon Reads here.
Discover a local chapter here.
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