The idea of a “Little Free Library” BUT with people was conceived during a hectic work week by a book nerd and her friends. The first meeting, a runaway success, was held at her incredibly supportive parents’ home.
I really can’t put a date to when I started enjoying sharing books with my friends and family. My first clear memory dates back to my 7th birthday in which amongst all the board games and Barbie dolls, there was one beautiful, shiny, lime green copy of The Goblin and His Toy Shop by Enid Blyton. As the years passed I kept gifting books, even to unsuspecting people, and demanding books as birthday presents. Between birthdays we’d keep up a healthy exchange of books, sometimes losing a book or two. The love for books and sharing them with people never dimmed.
That is, till I got a kindle.
The Kindle, although it nearly doubled my book consumption, put a sorry full stop (or maybe a semi-colon) to my book socialisation - basically my entire social life. I resorted to Shelfari and Goodreads forums to replace that feeling of bonding you develop when you exchange a book with someone. I started giving away some of my books to my friends, and upped the gifting (even two year olds are getting books from me nowadays).
But something was still missing. Two years after the kindle, I was slowly moving back towards buying paperbacks, and eyeing my friends’ paperback collections with resentful envy. I was still in conflict about my own book collection, and would often dawdle at the Little Free Library and Bookcrossing websites. Would it work in India? Can I really give away my books with such wanton abandon? Can I trust my neighbours to not completely ravage my Little Free Library?
Around this time, my best friend and kindred spirit, Kriti came up with the idea of a Sisterhood of the Travelling Book(s). Neither of us had watched the movie, but we jumped into the idea with great enthusiasm. However, the logistics seemed near impossible, and way too complicated. The idea was dropped, but not forgotten.
This July, I was putting up some promotional flyers on the noticeboards in my neighbourhood for the organisation I work for, and I suddenly had a screw everythingmoment. I had worked for nearly 10 days continuously and somehow it had triggered in my head a creativity similar to the one you experience while procrastinating studying during exams. The idea of the Delhi BYOB Club popped up in my head like it had always been there. Only the name was missing. It took me a mere 36 hours to go from “New Delhi Book Lovers” to “New Delhi BYOB”. It was SO exciting, I couldn’t help updating my Facebook status immediately! The very first sign-ups were my mom and dad.
The next few days I juggled a very hectic work schedule and frenzied ideating for the Club. I asked Kriti to forward me some bookish photos because I didn’t even want to stop long enough to check my own archives before making this website. I usually tend to get carried away with my ideas, so I knew we needed a preliminary meeting to sort everything out. And I knew my parents wouldn’t be of any help in this case as they never criticise my ideas or discourage me in any way.
So I got together my some of my best (bookish) friends: Kriti, Varsha and Shobhit, for the 1st Organisers meet. And boy, was it painful. They tamed and chiselled my idea into this exact, beautiful form that it is today. I’ll forever be grateful to them for not withering in face of my obstinacy and craziness.
We came home and shared the details on social media. We could have never predicted the kind of response that followed. One share led to another, and eventually we had fifth degree contacts signing up for the first proper meeting!
The first meeting was…a bit surreal, to be honest. We still haven’t completely wrapped our minds around it yet. I can’t thank my parents enough for being sporting enough to host a dozen or so complete strangers in our home. My mom made two litres of tea impromptu and she never makes tea impromptu. Dad’s friends were there. My relatives were there. Most of all, the incredibly awesome members of the Club…who came from far off places like Gurgaon to a random address in a locality they’d probably never heard of…just because they LOVE books.