A Book Club For A City

A banker, teacher, housewife and student walk into a room. I'm not setting you up for a lame joke, they are attending a book club meeting. Every second Saturday of the month, Nairobians who love books gather at the Kenya National Theater for the Text Book Centre Book Club.

The Text Book Center Book Club, held its first meeting in June. The book club, which was formed in March 2015, was initially an online book club where members could suggest books to other members. Text Book Centre would give them a discount on the books. In June, TBC took it offline, requesting instead that their members show up for the first meeting.

Since then they've held one meeting every month to discuss books written by different African authors. What’s more, attendance is free.

Members discussing a book.

Many have argued that Kenyans would rather spend their leisure time in bars and hotels, watching sports or at the movies than with books. They believe this attitude has led to the poor reading culture among Kenyans.

In an article for a local news blog, writer Kennedy Buhere  says “Reading is a lifelong, enjoyable habit that enables literate people to continue learning long after they have left formal education behind. It enables those who read to stretch their imaginations beyond the daily realities they face, and experience other realities.”

TBC Book Club Members

The TBC book club hopes to foster a reading culture by making the club and books accessible to the general public. They’re hoping to make reading a lifelong hobby for citizens.

Mercy, a student, has never missed a meeting. She says  the book club has encouraged her to become a better reader, writer and person. Being part of the book club, she says, places her in great company. She enjoys meeting other Nairobians who are passionate about books. 

Many who attend the book club meeting say they read because books transport them to another place or time. They believe that books encourage them to reflect on their lives. And that  reading about different characters in different circumstances, gives them some sort of meaning or understanding to  their lives.  This in turn helps them better understand their lives.

At every book club meeting, attendees hold lively discussions questioning and comparing cultures. It gives them insight into other people's lives, their experiences and their viewpoints.

Image Credit- Text Book Centre

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