Up close and personal with Bangladesh’s most happening online book club
Reader’s block is every bibliophile’s worst nightmare, so who would've thought it could lead to a great idea? Well, that’s where the story of Litmosphere begins.
Getting swept up in the busyness of life is an all-too-easy feat. Distractions pour in from every direction and before we know it, we become out of touch with the habit of reading. Litmosphere founder Rubaiya Tasnim was faced with one of her worst slumps yet when she thought of the concept of an online book club.
Litmosphere started off as a small dream between two book-loving sisters and a pessimistic childhood friend. They hoped to create a platform where people of all ages and backgrounds could come together and share their love of books—much like the cozy coffee shop aesthetic we know and love. Litmosphere became a virtual version of their idyllic dream and within a short amount of time, they had grown into a family.
The club became a sanctuary for readers who connected with strangers like they never have before. It brought thousands together from around the country and bound them in an unimaginable bond. This online book club grew to become a non-judgemental safe haven for members where they are met with acceptance and positivity. At some 5000 members and rising, it is currently one of the largest book-based online communities in the country.
Their dream was actualized by the relentless efforts of core founders Rubaiya Tasnim Chowdhury, Ramisa Chowdhury and Arham Al Ahmad Siddique, moderators Amimul Ihsan and Mahinoor Ekram and the Lit reps - a total of ten regional representatives who organize the club’s regional activities.
Every month of the year brings with it a unique theme, and based on that theme Litmosphere selects one or two exciting reads as their book of the month (BOTM). This is done to present their members with a collective reading goal, and encourage discussion within the reading community.
The Litfam, as the members proudly call each other, also look forward to the monthly meetups held in four major cities of the country—Dhaka, Sylhet, Chattagram and Rajshahi. These meetups involve the discussion of a wide range of topics starting from thoughts on the BOTM and other interesting reads and expanding to include all things pertaining to reading. They also have a ‘Battle of the Regions’ where members of the club post book reviews on the BOTM, with one of the regions emerging victorious each month.
Litmosphere is perhaps the first online reading community that places equal emphasis on Bangla as well as English, while also providing members with a platform to share their own reviews, write-ups, blogs, fanfictions, fan art and photographs. All of these are regulated under group standards so as to maintain a positive atmosphere.
From crying over the death of one fictional character together to cursing the foolish antics of another, Litmosphere has become a platform where you can post anything starting from raving book reviews to eye-opening book discussions.
“Reading equips us with the emotional intelligence that is necessary to maintain the balance of human sensitivity. At a time when we are busy simplifying everything to a calibre of memes, books and reading give us the emotional capacity to understand and sympathize with others and ourselves on a deeper level,” shares Rubaiya.
Depending on who you ask, the habit of reading is either thriving or in decline. Whatever the case may be, it is imperative that people embrace reading. Groups like Litmosphere play an important role in connecting readers to books. They focus on making the reading experience more interactive and add a social aspect to individuals’ passion for books.
2018 has seen some incredible initiatives from Litmosphere. Here are the highlights:
The launching of Litcards
Litcards are exclusive dual-purpose membership cards for members of the group. Not only are they a badge of honour for Litfam, but cardholders are also able to enjoy a number of benefits. Litmosphere has raised the bar in terms of what a book club can accomplish by partnering up with businesses to provide their members with discounts and privileges from certain shops, pages and even a coffee shop!
Lit merch galore
Litmosphere understands that after books, book-nerds absolutely adore merchandise that complete the reading experience, which is why they’ve launched their very own line. The current collection includes bookmarks, mugs and t-shirts and plans to expand are underway.
As a tribute to Mother Nature, June came with the monthly theme of World Environment Day. In lieu of that, Litmosphere had a bonus group activity where they collaborated with Jonaki’r Alo in the Boipoka Project. The initiative encouraged people to donate books and plants to the RPK Eco-Friendly Library. The ‘One book, one plant’ concept stemmed from the conviction that we have a responsibility towards nature since trees are being cut down in order to create paper for books.
Auction for Litmama
Mohammad Abdul Gofur, affectionately referred to as Litmama, is a physically challenged book vendor who works the streets at Bijoy Shoroni. Initially, the plan was to auction off mama’s books and hand over the proceeds to him. However, the response within the group was both heartwarming and overwhelming, and soon members were paying exorbitant prices for local prints, donating money, and putting up their own books—even originals—for the cause. Litmosphere raised a humble amount of Tk 1 lakh for mama and his family, gaining another family member in the process.
In the spirit of Ramadan, creator of the Sehri Tales Challenge, Sabrina Fatma Ahmad offered up a month-long wirting therapy project. The prompts, such as ‘fall’ or ‘heavy’ encouraged individuals to be candid and inspired brilliant entries. Writers would open up and share some of their deepest secrets or most aching sorrows, and readers would accept them with open arms. In the age of internet trolls, the warm and wholesome relationship that unfolded between writers and readers was touching to say the least.
A Thousand Words
This August marked two years of Litmosphere. To celebrate, they organized a unique Bookstagramming exhibition, where bookworm-friendly aesthetics from our Instagram feeds came to life in the form of large prints. The exhibition showcased stunning photos captured by Litfam and offered them an exciting opportunity to unite with their virtual family in real life. The event was open to all and allowed spectators a glimpse into the world of Litmosphere. Celebrations were complete with interactive storytelling sessions for children, an open mic for comedians, musicians and storytellers to take the stage, books, bookmarks, candles and more.