Avid readers will remember spending summer afternoons lounging in a corner with their nose in a book. From Asterix comics to Roald Dahl’s fantasy tales, books have always had the ability to transport a person through space and time. However, as life gets busier by the day, several people have forgotten the joy books bring to their lives.
This is also why the many worlds created courtesy fiction books are almost forgotten. To reboot a love for reading, Model Town-resident Nitin Goel (36) decided to launch Project Bibliotherapy (PB) on Instagram in March 2020. PB, which started as a lockdown project—it is a micro blog through which Goel shares the books he has discovered—has grown into an initiative with a primary aim: “nudge people to read more”. “Nowadays, the bestsellers list mostly features self-help books. Adults have stopped reading for pleasure,” shares Goel. The former sales professional stresses, “Reading for pleasure is more beneficial. You don’t just learn empathy, you also get to enjoy so many experiences. Through fiction, you can look at the world through different eyes.”
In the past two years, PB has grown—they now have over 2,000 followers on Instagram—with Nandini Swaminathan (33) from Gurugram joining Goel as co-founder and ‘storyteller-in-chief’ in 2021. Calling it his “sanity project”, Goel explains, “The term ‘bibliotherapy’ was coined during World War I. Using the power of fiction to understand the world around you better is therapy in a way.”
Other side of reading
Taking a cue from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its theory of 42 (Adams said ‘the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is 42’), PB compiled a zine titled ‘42 Goodreads of the Internet’ in August 2021. The publication provides readers with a thorough understanding of fiction by citing works that are often overlooked. What is interesting about the zine is that the recommendations are not just reading material; PB has also curated a range of podcasts, videos, and newsletters created by the recommended authors. “Some might find a book intimidating to start. However, these 42 reads will introduce you to the author first before showing you ways to dive into their world,” says Swaminathan.
PB has also developed a content site on Scrollstack—a global open content platform—to launch a community called ‘Readers of 42’. Along with fiction recommendations, the community will also have access to nostalgic memorabilia including stamps and cassettes, or even books for children that might currently be out of print. The team is working on 10 more zines on a series of topics that they plan to publish this year.