Books have been agents of change, be it personal or societal. The key to altering any situation is to comprehend the issue, which is something one can achieve only through written words. This philosophy forms the foundation of The Earth Book Club, a reading community that seeks to heavily draw on discourses around green literature, a contemporary genre that derives its roots from ecocriticism—a branch of literature that studies the relationship between human beings and nature. Founded by Shruti Sharma and Rashi Garg in May last year, this book club is an attempt to create awareness about the environment and consequently prompt individuals to make eco-conscious choices in their daily lives.
“There were very few people who knew that green literature is a genre. I wanted other environmentally-conscious people to get to know about these books to increase their knowledge and, by extension, change their lifestyle,” says Sharma, who also launched the venture ‘Books on the Delhi Metro’. “This was Shruti’s idea. She and I had started composting last year. So, when she mentioned the thought of doing something like this, I just grabbed the opportunity. As soon as she asked ‘Would you like to be a part of this?’, I said ‘Why not!’,” adds Garg, a resident of Gurugram.
Through a green lens
With the pandemic putting a strain on offline events, the book club—launched amid the pandemic—has mostly banked heavily on virtual activities and collaborations. They also partnered with the Green Literature Festival, one of the first literary initiatives focused on environment and sustainability in December last year. “The idea was to meet people but because it started amid the pandemic, we knew that would not be possible right away. We thus started posting recommendations and then engaging with environmental authors and publishers,” shares Sharma.
By posting reviews of environmental books across categories and listing book recommendations from time to time, Sharma and Garg have fostered a community of bibliophiles and green lifestyle enthusiasts. Even though their recommendations have been appreciated by many, expanding the community continues to be a major challenge. “This [the book club] exists at an intersection wherein the members should be readers and be climate conscious. We won’t get a huge audience, but the little audience we have is very keen,” Sharma explains.
Out of the many page-turners they have recommended, a few of Sharma’s favourite books from the genre are Making Friends with Snakes by Rohan Chakravarty, PS What’s Up with the Climate by Bijal Vachharajani, and The Everyday Eco Warrior by Srini and Shubhashree.
Their future course of action is clear—they want to hold physical meetings in due course. “We will hold meet-ups in Delhi’s parks amid nature... meet new people and exchange recommendations,” concludes Sharma.