Our Islamabad Readers’ Club turned three in March 2017.
During the past three years, the club’s members have read 35 books and a short story, and we are cruising through book #37 in April.
It seems like yesterday when we first sat down at the now-defunct Gloria Jean’s cafe in Kohsar market for an ice-breaker session in 2014. Our DWL colleague and poet-friend Waqas A. Qazi organised it and pushed us to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as the club’s first book.
It was just the dystopian start we needed because the discussion next month was incredibly good! The first discussion session set the tone for our future conversations. We’re lucky that through the consistent support of the book club’s members our sessions have remained thought-provoking, intellectually rich, and simply delightful, ever since.
We owe Waqas Qazi special thanks for leading the book club through its formative months. We also thank DWLers Muhammad “Mo” Bokhari and Muhammad Imran who helped us regroup and meet regularly, especially at times when we thought we were simply too busy to read and discuss books.
The Islamabad Readers’ Club has changed at least seven locations since it started. But we have now settled upon the Classic Rock Coffee cafe in Super market, where we have met each month for the past six months. Every month, new people join in and regular members return for an insightful discussion on the selected book.
Here are some of the memorable incidents that took place during our meetings:
- During the first year, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus drew in more participants than books by Marquez and Murakami
- So many people showed up for the discussion of Asimov’s Caves of Steel that we literally barricaded the entrance of the cafe we were meeting at, and the administration had to force us out eventually
- When we were discussing Carl Sagan’s Contact, one of the participants, an elderly scientist, told us he had attended a lecture by Mr. Sagan in the US during his youth and that Mr. Sagan had snubbed him when he had asked a question at the end of the lecture
- One of the participants brought along an original French language copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery for our discussion on the book
- We read George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Mustansar Hussain Tarar’s Pyaar ka Pehla Sheher in the same month, and that was probably the most well-attended session and most passionate discussion in the club’s history because ORWELL and TARAR.
Looking back at the books we read, we’re glad to see a mix of genres and a representation of writers from around the world. We’ve read classics, contemporary fiction, at least one Urdu novel, multiple translated works, women authors, Pakistani fiction, and short stories.
Here are all the titles the Islamabad Readers’ Club has read, in order from earliest to most recent:
1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
2. The Stranger by Albert Camus
3. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
7. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
8. Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlow
9. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
10. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
11. Everyman by Philip Roth
12. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
13. Survival Tips for Lunatics by Shandana Minhas
14. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
15. The Spinner’s Tale by Omar Shahid Hamid
16. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
17. The Crash of ’79 by Paul E. Erdman
18. Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
19. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell
21. Pyaar ka Pehla Sheher by Mustansar Hussain Tarar
22. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
23. The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
24. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
25. Dune by Frank Herbert
26. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
27. The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
28. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
29. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
30. Contact by Carl Sagan
31. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
32. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
33. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
34. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
35. LaRose by Louise Erdrich
36. Blindness by Jose Saramago
We are currently reading Neuromancer by William Gibson and our next meeting is on April 26. Feel free to read the book and join our discussion. The Islamabad Readers’ Club is open to all and the meetings are free to attend.