In this age of kindles and Amazon, ‘Books & Brews’ is a rare thing: a bookshop crawl that invites people to get drunk…on essays, novels and poetry, the smell of pages of text and the thrill of finding a book that hits all the right literary spots, in the city’s most iconic bookstores.
The first edition of the bookshop crawl was launched last year, curated by Vidhi Kundan Jain. “The idea of starting a community over books is something that I definitely wished for even for before I knew it,” she explains.
“Books and local stores have been an integral part of my life. Doing something like this comes from a space of wanting to share the same joy, beauty and love for reading with as many people as we can. As a city or country we lack quality public libraries. The next best thing we have here is bookstores. To be able to preserve this, we need these bookstores to exist in brick and shelves, by supporting them.”
This time around, Books & Brews will feature music performances at each stop including Ben and Prashant of Vasudhaiva Ride and harmonicist Siddharth Suresh. Attendees will be able to listen as authors Roopa Pai and Shweta Taneja talk about their work as well as on the importance of bookstores. Additionally, you’ll also be able to say hello to illustrators Khushnaz Lala, Natalia Rebecca Isaac, Jai Jain, and Swadha Jaiswal in the stores who will be live sketching participants.
Now, which bookstores on the route? If you’re a Bangalorean, you probably already know of some of them, but there’s always more to discover. The bookstores on this list are definitely worth hours of your weekend:
1) The Bookworm
Whether you visit the little bookstore hidden in Shrungar Complex or its newer and larger sibling store sprawling 5,000 square feet on Church Street, don’t be surprised to find yourself browsing through the packed shelves of these shops far longer than you’d allowed for. The Bookworm stocks a wide variety; hardcover classics, foreign language titles, comics, gorgeous coffee table books and more. You’ll find your perseverance being rewarded too, with rare and out-of-print books hidden among the shelves.
You’ll know you’ve found this bookstore from the tongue-in-cheek chalkboards on the sidewalk, hinting at a quirkiness that extends indoors. Goobe’s Book Republic has a carefully curated selection of books; here, Appupen’s Moonward rubs shoulders with back issues of Tinkle, and Sandman comics with illustrated children’s books. Also, look around for proprietor Ravi Menezes who will be happy to share his recommendations with you. Bonus: if you can’t afford some of the books, you can rent them out instead!
The 170-year old heritage store is back in a new avatar. Bright and airy, with steps two floors of different categories and collections of books, it’s easy to get lost among the shelves here. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a classic, a textbook for class or easy reading for the beach, Higginbothams will have the right book for you.
This hidden gem is the quintessential second hand bookshop, with books stacked from floor to ceiling, spilling out every corner. It’s great fun for browsing but make sure you ask one of the staff for some help finding the treasures amongst the stacks, as this particular shop is known for its collection of secondhand, rare and antiquarian books; some are limited editions and others have been signed by their writers. Here, you could happen upon an autographed copy of Tagore’s Gitanjali, or even P. G. Wodehouse first editions.
Gangarams is another of the city’s oldest and most popular bookstores and for good reason. Whether your heart desires thrillers, travel guides, illustrated encyclopedias or books on crafts, you’ll probably find it here. Plus, the owner as well as the staff are very helpful and will track down that one book you’ve been waiting for, and make great recommendations too. Don’t be surprised to find yourself leaving with armloads of art books, poetry and gardening, things you never knew you needed desperately, until you discover them in Gangarams.
Blossoms has a cult following, no doubt because of its ability to act like a mesmerizing portal to thousands of literary worlds – Narnia, Alice’s rabbit hole, Dostoyevsky Russia, Ruskin’s India, all in one. It’s the kind of place where you linger for hours, running your fingers along the spines of books stacked on the shelves, reading on little stools unaware of the time until one of the kind staff brings you a cup of tea. It’s a challenge to not spend 10 minutes in the store and not want to buy 10 books within that time.
So there you have it. From the seemingly limitless collection of books to the delightfully friendly staff, it’s no surprise that these are some of Bangalore’s most beloved bookshops. The only thing that’s left is for you to head out and explore them!
And with ‘Books and Brews’, not only will you get to discover new haunts, revisit old ones, meet other book addicts, listen to new music, say hello to some of the city’s most prolific illustrators, stop for coffee breaks, get to know the story behind your favourite bookshops, and help them out in the process.
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