The Reading Club

Picture

Back in 2009, I picked up this most interesting book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, its title is “The Shadow of the Wind”, his story begins with the protagonist Daniel and his father visiting a place in Barcelona called “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”. In this cemetery, books upon books are stacked on top of the other, shelves overflowing with the abundance of it all and amid the volumes of tomes, Zafon’s protagonist finds himself picking up a book by the mysterious author Julian Carax. His choosing of Carax’s book sets Daniel and his father on an intricate and complicate path where fiction becomes reality. Here in Manila, I have never heard of a ‘cemetery of forgotten books’ but two years ago, I chanced upon an article in the Philippine Inquirer about a place in Balagtas Street, Makati that just may be the the real life counterpart of Zafon’s story, the place is called “The Reading Club”.

Picture

Barangay La Paz’s own library for the people
Tucked away in the inner part of Makati near the Mangubat ancestral home (my dad’s old place) is a small club where books long forgotten and no longer loved are dropped off for people to rediscover once again. Unlike the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Zafon’s story, The Reading Club is not a secret, in fact it is open for all the residents of Barangay La Paz and the surrounding areas to drop by and check upon rows, stacks and shelves of pre-loved books.

Picture

Shelves loaded with books
In the Reading Club, browsing for a book that might catch your interest may be a little difficult. Books here are not arranged in any particular order, among the rows of psychology and accounting books you may find romance, fiction, history and other genres grouped with the topics specified. Some books are worth taking a second look at and at times there were interesting textbooks that I could have used back when I was still studying. There were some books that were already damaged but I am pretty sure some soul looking for a book would pick it up one day and enjoy its story.

Picture

Don’t worry about being noisy, this isn’t your average library

Don’t worry about getting lost in this cemetery of pre-loved books, it’s a small place where you can pick up obscure titles, all absolutely free. Yes all of the books here are free, just simply grab a book that you like and leave, but at the same time, the club also asks you to donate your own set of books to help the growing and innumerable collection.

Picture

But do follow some of their rules

Picture

Don’t get lost
But more than just being an avenue for picking up free books and encouraging its visitors to stay awhile and browse through the club’s shelves, The Reading Club also supports different initiatives in helping other barangays set up their own library. When I visited the club, I was lucky enough to see that the government had donated sets of textbooks to the club, according to the store manager at that time, the textbooks are free for those who would like to get their own copy. In fact the store manager even urged me to get one, I didn’t get any since the textbooks were going to Mindanao and most likely to a barangay with not a lot of resources.

Picture

Their philosophy

Picture

Their initiatives
The concept of the club is interesting, since here in Manila and elsewhere, nothing comes for free, let alone books which of late have been getting a bit expensive. But that’s what it is, turned around, inverted and flipped any way that you want it and the books inside the club will remain free. In fact the club asks or even begs the casual visitor to not leave empty handed but also urges us to ‘pay it forward’ by dropping off our own books at their sidewalk.

Picture

Don’t be selfish
Even though I left the Reading Club empty-handed, I was happy since there are places like the Reading Club who emphasize the importance of reading and the value of books in society. I enjoyed going through the shelves and trying to look for that Julian Carax-type of book that I know I might not even find in my first visit. I am glad that for just a few minutes of my day, I got to spend it in a place like the Reading Club, where books aren’t supposed to be kept but given and passed on for another person’s enjoyment.

Picture

Don’t forget to register
The Reading Club can be found at Barangay La Paz, Balagtas Street. Makati City.
You may also check their Facebook page here
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s