October 18, 2015

In the Company of Those Who Read: KHIBookSwap, the Pakistani Book Club

What is the best memory you have associated with this group?

Ifrah Waqar: Often during our book club meetings there comes a point when everyone is active, everyone is talking and cutting in to each other. It’s a very ‘Menay jo book parhi us k baray mein suno, forget about the world’ type of environment, we start interrupting each other’s sentences because we want to talk about our books, or if the person in front of us is talking about a book we’ve read we’re eager to give our opinion about it. I think that’s the best part, where we can’t help but get overwhelmed.

The Introduction

KHIBookSwap is that rare entity that exists solely based on the passion of those who read. Formed by Farman Shams and Ifrah Waqar in August 2014, KHIBookSwap is nothing more and nothing less than a gathering of people who like to read and are equal parts astonished and gratified to encounter those in our country who love it as much as they do. With once-a-month meet ups held in various corners of Karachi, a number of new and old readers will converge on the designated spot with a book chosen from the topic selected for that month (ranging from particular genres like thrillers to particular authors like Paulo Coelho to specifications like books-adapted-into-movies). People exchange books, they eat a little food, and then they get to talk about more books! Sounds like bliss.

Why You Should Be Interested

Book clubs are a recent trend in the country, and while it’s well and good for organizations, schools and institutions to hold literary meetings, there is something charming in the idea of a bunch of people who are meeting only because they like to read and nothing else. Most of these people never knew each other before KHIBookSwap; they have met over Twitter, or been recommended to this group by an acquaintance, or accidentally stumbled into this bewildering world of enthusiastic readers in Karachi on their own. With varying jobs and ages, there’s almost an endless supply of ideas, opinions and best of all, recommendations. If you like to read, and you can’t find anyone else to gush over your favourite book about, then I suggest you start here.

The Location