Books On The Delhi Metro is a not-for-profit initiative started in mid-May 2017 and it is aimed at promoting reading while commuting. The initiative functions as a public library, but on wheels. As a part of the global organization, Books on the Move Global, the initiative aims to bring back the joy of reading and sharing.
It was founded by Shruti Sharma and Tarun Chauhan and now the small family has grown to house 40 volunteers, some with nicknames like 18 and spicy. Their aim is simple: they want people to get into the habit of reading. And knowing that reading demands a considerable amount of time, what else could be better than reading while commuting!
So if you find a stickered book on the Metro, feel free to pick it up and take it home with you. But when you’re done, be sure to put it back on the metro for someone else to enjoy.
With this initiative, they intend to bring the glory of our literature back.They want to attract Delhi’s attention towards new authors, new stories, and literary initiatives happening in the city as well as world.Mass drops also happen like on birthdays of famous authors like Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie or John Green or events like the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter.
The books are dropped inside the metro station- on the platform benches or near the signages. This is like a treasure hunt and all the more exciting that you feel like Sherlock. The very next moment, if you are a follower of their social media handles, you will see the image of the book and a hint of where it is dropped.
Now if you happen to be lucky, and if the book is travelling on the same route as yours, pick it up! It’s yours now. Take it with you. Read it. Let them know by tagging them with a hashtag #booksonthedelhimetro .They do not collect books back. So the person who finds it, they can read it at their leisure. That said, it’s not a freebie or a giveaway.Shruti Sharma, founder says that she trusts people to follow – ‘Take it, read it, and return for someone else to enjoy’.
There is a positive response that they have received from Delhi. They have been well appreciated and this motivates them to continue this in better ways. Shruti says,”Delhi has been very kind to us. We have got many books in circulation, which means people are picking it up, reading it and becoming a source of happiness for others.The choice of our books is random. But we do not drop books which can hurt religious sentiments or which are politically biased.”
Honestly, my experience after joining BODM as a volunteer has been truly soul satisfying.It feels really great to be in the company of people who love books and encourage you to read more.Daily conversations on books act like a tonic! The smell of new books is something I can’t describe in words.
Tête-à-Tête with Shruti Sharma, Founder Of Books On the Delhi Metro
Shruti, how do you manage time for this project with work and busy daily schedule?
Sometimes it gets really tough.It feels like a full-time job, managing the book drops, social media posting, catching up with volunteers. But the excitement keeps us going. So I work during early hours of the day (before office) and late in the night (after office)
How can one join Books on the Delhi Metro?
Anyone can join this movement. We need more books, more people to join in. So they can hop in and be our book fairies. They can also contribute their favorite books. We will provide them stickers.
What are your reading habits?
If deciding which book I am going to pick next even before I finish the current one is considered as ‘dying habit’, then yes, I am addicted. But more than that I treasure books. I do not like to add the famous bookish adjectives- book hoarder, bookworm, or book devourer. I just love books for its stories, for the fictional world it creates. I was not always like this- the habit has grown over a period of time with age, with time.
I always carry a book while commuting. Be it local traveling or outstation, a book shall always accompany me. Otherwise, I feel bored. I love to browse through social media in free time, but that eventually becomes boring. Stories, on the other hand, are always interesting.
From where did you take the concept of ‘Book on the Delhi Metro’?
From Emma Watson’s famous ‘Mom and me and Mom’ drop on the New York subway. I got to know about this movement- Books on the move global- after I saw video on her dropping books on Instagram.
What is your vision?
I would like to see how will Delhi Metro look like when we start enjoying our commuting time reading a book. Also, I would want to shatter the preconceived notion of Delhiites as ‘freebie-jumpers’.
How has the response been from the reading community?
Everyone is appreciating and applauding us for this initiative including readers, authors, and publishing houses. They want to help us in any way they can. They have volunteered for book drops and have even offered to share some books from their own shelf. It’s really heartwarming to see such a response.Students have bunked classes to get books while others have waited for hours after a drop alert for a particular book.
What is the response from the book industry?
Tremendously encouraging. I was skeptical about the involvement of publishing houses, but I have received a positive response from them.
Did you contact the ‘Books on the move global’ or just started the initiative on your own?
I did get in touch with them. I talked to Hollie Fraser and Rosy Kehdi for permissions and the pretty ladies quickly agreed.
How does it feel to be sole Indian representative on this movement?
Under the movement Book on the Move, it feels good to be the Indian representative of such a huge campaign. It started with a lot of excitement, but now to add to it we feel a lot of responsibility as well. Our other counterparts are doing well in their respective cities and countries. So the onus of bringing the best of this initiative lies on me.
How did you go upon acquiring your books and were any of your friends involved initially?
Initially, the books were from my own shelf. But as we started getting attention, a lot of friends donated their books. Now, there are 40 amazing book fairies who keep this movement strong and running.
So, India, Keep Reading. Keep Sharing.
You can follow Books On The Delhi Metro on the following social media handles :
Here is the webpage of Books On The Delhi Metro: booksonthedelhimetro.wordpress.com