Reading Delhi with Delhi Reads

By Ashmita Banerjee, Devatrai Jha and Rajasvi Jain, Batch of 2026

Be it the long metro rides home, quiet staircases on campus, hidden corners of the library, under the comforting shade of a tree or beneath blankets with flashlight in hand, every reader has a story of their own, carefully nestled between the pages of their lives. 

Do you recall those moments when you’d glance away from your book and discover fellow enthusiasts just as engrossed in their literary worlds as you were?

Book clubs have a unique way of stroking the embers of the deep passion for literature- uniting people to read, discuss and savour the beauty of writing together. On 31st July 2023, we headed to Costa Coffee, Khan Market, to interview Paridhi Puri and Molina Singh, the founders of Delhi Reads, a community-first book club that meets every month to discuss a book and explore the city blooming with heritage. 

Devatrai: Lets begin with a round of introductions!

Paridhi: I’m Paridhi Puri. I graduated with a degree in Economics from University of Delhi last year, and co-founded this club with Molina.

Molina: I’m Molina Singh. I studied English Literature and History at Gargi College, Delhi University. I’m working at YouTube Creators India for their content and social media, and I am also a co-founder at Delhi Reads.

Ashmita: Starting off, what do you mean by a community first book club, and how important is the spirit of community? 

Molina: There’s a significant lack of spaces for like-minded individuals to discuss topics of interest. There are hundreds of book clubs in the world but what we wanted to be unique about Delhi Reads was for the community to come together and discuss things. We don’t just discuss the themes of the book in a conventional way, but we ensure that people talk about contemporary topics or the discourses going on social media, and how it impacts their personal lives. Our mission is to get the community to talk, while reading books. That’s why it’s called community-first

Devatrai: How did you get the idea of starting a book club, and what inspired you?

Molina: In December of 2022, I realised that college was ending really soon. When you’re in college, you’re bound neither by a school’s rigid structure nor a 9-5 hustle. You’re free to explore different subjects, competitions and festivals and just be yourself. That was going to be snatched from me super soon with my college ending. What could I replace it with? Delhi Reads! That is when I approached Paridhi, who is a voracious reader and a very close friend of mine, and we took the idea forward from there.

Ashmita:What is the structure of your club discussions? And what is the process of choosing the book of the month?

Paridhi: We open suggestions for the book of the month and don’t repeat the same themes. If you’ve read a heavy book like feminist fiction last time, we change it. Maybe there’s a poetry book this time and so on.

Ashmita: How do you handle different opinions and perspectives within your book club?

Paridhi: I think people who attend our sessions are socio-politically aware. They listen politely, and put forth their perspectives without being derogatory, even when they disagree. We want this to be a safe space, especially for women, queer people, marginalised people, who may not have other forums to voice their opinions.This has always been our priority.

Molina: As for online sessions, of course, the people behind the screen get more power to talk. We have a very strict safety policy, following a two strike method where we are constantly moderating. We strive to ensure a safe environment for everyone by removing individuals who make others feel uncomfortable.

Devatrai: What are your future plans for the book club? And what is the end goal? Do you intend on branching out? 

Molina: When you start something, you’re very worried about it working out. As soon as it works out, you get the confidence to do something braver, bolder, bigger! Every session, we take it one notch higher. If today’s session was done in January, we would in no capacity, be able to invite Shrayna Bhattacharya. She’s a development economist with degrees from DU and Harvard University, and the author of ‘Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence’. And the name is Delhi Reads- there is reading, but there’s also ‘Delhi’ before ‘Reads’. We’re thinking of exploring the city and discovering cultures, and having book exchanges and book tours to bring a community together, while keeping the central message of reading flourishing.

Paridhi:The reading community at Delhi Reads connects people in various aspects of life, exchanging professional and educational tips organically. We aim to foster micro communities, and plan to organise something for online community members outside Delhi.

Molina: We’re also thinking of expanding to various college communities, have them open chapters under Delhi Reads, and branch out to other cities. The end goal is to bring people together, have fun, have coffee and make a name for ourselves. 

Ashmita: How do you think we can get more people into reading? How does your club foster that environment?

Paridhi: A lot of people who have signed up for our club have told us that that was the first time they were reading in months. When you participate in the community and you’re hearing so much dialogue about a particular theme, you’re obviously attracted to it and want to read more.

Devatrai: Then there’s the books vs movies debate, and a lot of people feel that film adaptations of books aren’t the best. What are your views on that?

Paridhi: I love movie adaptations of books. I feel the magic lies in whether the director is adapting the literary piece into something better. Like the Haunting of the Hill House is a horror show on Netflix based on a classic horror novel by Shirley Jackson. It’s a different story, with similar character names but set in a completely different era, imbibing the ethos of that book and the things that made the book a classic. When the filmmaker knows their vision of what they want to do with the book, it automatically translates into a good adaptation too. Then there are movies like Persuasion, that were so bad and didn’t work, because you have to know Jane Austen and her work on a deeper level.

Molina: Similar opinions actually. But I think rather than having debates about whether the book or the film adaptation is better, any medium that makes the message clear, is what is good.

 Ashmita: After all of these heavy questions we have a very fun rapid fire round for you.

Devatrai: First one- Jane Austen or Emily Bronte? 

Both in unison: Jane Austen. 

Devatrai: Reading in a library or under a tree?

Paridhi: Library 

Molina: I tend to read in contorted- yoga-like poses. Moreover, libraries and trees are too quiet for my liking.

Ashmita:  Kindle or the old-school paperback?

Molina: Paperback all the way. Paridhi’s on the flip side though.

Paridhi: Yes, I’ve always been into online reading, but I am circling back to paperbacks slowly.

Devatrai: A book you’d recommend to everyone?

Molina: So, I’ve just cracked open “Just Kids” by Patty Smith, and let me tell you, it’s been a mere ten pages and it’s already blowing my mind. 

Paridhi : Pachinko. Always. It’s this incredible historical fiction that follows a Korean family navigating their way through migrating to Japan, and dealing with all the complexities of Japanese colonisation of Korea. Great book. It’s also a web series on Apple Plus!

Devatrai : A tearjerker, something you connected with emotionally?

Paridhi : “All the Bright Places” was the heartbreaker for me. I distinctly remember my teenage self leafing through it, just sobbing my heart out.

Molina : Every book seems to tug at my heartstring. But, if I had to pick one, it would be Eleanor & Park. As a grown-up, I think it’d be Half of A Yellow Sun.

Ashmita : Hot debate right now. Barbie or Oppenheimer?

Paridhi : Oppenheimer for me! I’ve got ADHD. And guess what? I. Was. Hooked. It was everything!

Molina : Barbie for me! There was so much more discourse about it online unlike Oppenheimer. I get that it may have had more nuance, but I saw women walking out of “Barbie” feeling seen, and that’s something special. Plus, I’ve got a soft spot for pink.

After this rapid fire, we were vividly able to witness first hand how these two young founders are able to foster different perspectives under one roof and run this book club so efficiently. As this interview draws to a close we would like to extend our gratitude to Molina and Paridhi for taking out time to have this conversation with us. We delved deep into their journey of starting a book club and how their vision to bring book lovers together worked out for them. Book clubs are an avenue for readers and thinkers to be a part of an intellectually stimulated community with no shortage of banter and camaraderie and we have Molina and Paridhi here to thank for giving the people of Delhi something to look forward to. 

 It has been an engaging and enlightening time for us and we sincerely hope that our audience finds it equally interesting and thought-provoking.