For the Love of Reading

Books are a uniquely portable magic, wrote Stephen King. A team of young Bahrainis is out to share this magic with as many people on

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the island as possible.

Reading has always been a pleasure for Shoug Al Tamimi. But when the 22-year-old’s library at home began overflowing with books, she decided to find new homes for her old friends. Shoug set about collecting additional books from friends and her first book fair in 2010 showcased 700 volumes, raising BD600 for charity.

Last year, Shoug made her love for books official with the launch of Booksessed, a book club dedicated to spreading the joy of reading in Bahrain.

“Our objective is to promote reading. We don’t want books to gather dust in shelves, but for them to find new homes and new minds. In addition to giving books new life, we want to give back to the community. All proceeds from our sales go towards charity,” says the grade-three English teacher at Al-Iman School.

Earlier in April this year, Booksessed held its first book sale at Seef Mall, putting up 1,200 volumes for sale. The event raised BD930 which was donated to the Friendship Society for the Blind. However, Shoug and her team was a little disappointed with the turnout at the event.

“We want diversity in our membership. Though we had a good number of visitors at the event, those who showed up were mainly expatriates. It was saddening to see that Bahrainis did not show the same enthusiasm for reading,” she notes.

It is to fuel this passion for books that the group launched a book club, Cover to Cover, which meets once every month to discuss two nominated books, one in English and another Arabic.

Fakhira Syed, the group’s public relations officer, observes that such is the enthusiasm at the meetings that members who haven’t read the book being discussed feel compelled to read it afterwards.

“In that sense, I believe we’re starting to achieve our objectives. Even if you don’t like reading, you’ll develop a love for it if you attend our meetings,” she says.

Booksessed members frequent summer camps in Bahrain, where they talk to children about books and storytelling. They also hold workshops for teenagers to guide them towards titles that suit their taste.

The group is beginning to collect books for the forthcoming sale in early 2014. To those who make excuses about not having enough time to read, Shoug has an answer — make the time. Download audio books and listen to them when you’re in the gym or driving.

“If you view it as a chore, the pleasure of reading is gone. Try to make it fun by discovering where your real interest lies,” she says.

Booksessed is currently looking for members and volunteers who can help organise events. Those interested may visit the group’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.

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