Last Sunday my 9 month old kid R had a lovely time in a book library. Sounds unreal? I would have though so, too, a day before that. But as we entered ‘the book leaf’, a book library which opened in Bopodi, that day, wondering how much time we have there, with R losing patience, nothing of that sorts happened.
With a story book picked up for him, he settled down on the floor, which was covered with a mattress specifically for that purpose. For half an hour or so, he was engrossed in books. I didn’t even think of taking a photograph, sadly!
The Book Leaf is a library started by two friends, who’ve left the corporate world recently to realize their long cherished dream. Both of them are voracious readers, and have pooled in their personal book collections to kick start this venture in its makeshift home: a garage, minimally (but very creatively) redone into this cozy little library.
Meet Aletha and Sonia: the co-owners. Aletha was my colleague in a startup I had joined some years back, and has been a dear friend ever since (so do compensate for a friendly bias, but if you know me, you know it won’t be much). It’s hard to describe anything about her in a few words: neither her professional experience (which ranges from archeology — she’s a Ph.D in archeology — to knowledge management), to her eclectic reading (which always makes me feel illiterate). Sonia, is a literature major, also has diverse industry experience. I had met her just once/twice before, and had never interacted much with her. However, on last Sunday it was Sonia who enthralled us all, picking up a book here for R, a book there for my sister’s kid who is a bit older, and also reading us (the adults) the opening passage of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.
The author of the week at the book leaf was Dr. Seuss (I knew about him, but not that Horton Hears a Who! was based on his eponymous story), and Sonia pulled out his different books for children of different age groups, all the while supplying me information about Dr. Seuss (that he was a cartoonist too, and that all the pictures in his books are drawn by him). Like those children mesmerized by the Pied Piper (okay, sans the negative connotations of the legend), we hung on to her every word. And it was then that I realized what I was missing in libraries/bookshops: someone who knew and loved books — in every which way. These days, everything is about numbers: how many titles, how big a floor-space, how big are the discounts. In the bland world of brands, and corporates, it’s so good to find a library (or anything), where numbers are the last thing on your mind.
The book leaf, of course, isn’t just a children’s library, although that day I went there with two kids and ended up being sucked into the children’s section. The children section is the best I’ve come across in libraries (again not by the metric of numbers), but the adult section is no less interesting. A cursory glance, and I saw the familiar titles: Ghosh, Koestler, Eco, Pamuk … Of course, that was not surprising because in a way Aletha has been feeding me on those all these years, and if I touch those copies, they might sound familiar to touch. For me, it’s a loss: for now I’ll have to return those books on time, and cannot borrow them in bunches, as I used to. But in the larger interest of humankind, I’m happy to overlook the loss! For this is a treasure trove for book lovers (Note: you may not find your Chetan Bhagat’s here, or Computer and Management books).
Yet, for me, the book leaf will be much more than its books: mostly because of the two librarians, well read and articulates — who could talk, hours on end, on and around books, their excitement and enthusiasm highly contagious — who are there to help you find not just the books you knew you wanted to read, but more importantly, the books you never knew you wanted to read. Visit it once, and you’ll know.
Apart from being a library, the book leaf is all set to be an activity hub for children. Check out their blog for the updates on upcoming and past activities. For senior citizens, they also plan to have books delivered home (not sure if this has already started).
On an aside, my first reaction after watching the children’s book section was: this must be only such library for kids in Pune. Pat came Aletha’s reply: why, they have Jungle Book in Aundh. There, then is one die hard knowledge worker for you. No knowledge is too taboo to spread, not even about the competition.
Location: Bunglow #1, Uttarnagari, Bhau Patil Road, Bopodi. (Next to IT Park)
Timings: Morning 10-1, Evenings 5-8, Thursday Closed
Pros: Read the blog.
Cons: Location. How I wish it was somewhere near Kothrud, even Deccan!