Yangchen C Rinzin 

When they first picked up the habit of reading, Tshering Dhendup and Sonam Lhendup wanted to do something to encourage others to read too. This was because Tshering became an ardent reader only in 2015 while Sonam started only from 2017.

Realising how important reading is, Tshering and Sonam, both civil servants working with economic affairs ministry, initiated and created a link called ‘The Book Rolling Initiative (BRI)’ in July this year. The idea was to continue reading and sharing the joy of reading with others.

The initiative that is fast picking up in social media, Facebook, was created to encourage reading by enhancing access to a wider range of book choices through an increased network of readers.

Tshering Dhendup said the initiative is an idea of creating voluntary links between book enthusiasts that operates like conventional book clubs. He explained that a person becomes the member of the BRI, then he or she rolls the book(s) to another member who passes it to another member and thereby create a rolling effect.

“The particular book rolls among the members that are interested to read and the tenth reader has to return the book to its owner,” he said. “We keep track of the books in circulation with the owner’s information to ensure the book is returned.”

The initiative became a success and today, BRI has more than 500 members.

Tshering said they used Facebook because many readers showed interest in sharing their books and lending to other readers. “The biggest achievement was that BRI has encouraged some members to pick up a reading habit. Some of the new members are already into their 10th book.”

He said he had never been an ardent reader but started reading very late after Dasho Sonam Kinga encouraged him. “I regret not picking up the habit early so when I did, I wanted to share the joy of reading with others, hence, the BRI.”

Tshering said they only targeted to reach about 50 members among the friends. But they have more than 400 books in circulation today. The BRI attempts to ensure one member reads at least 10 books.

With the reading habit picking up among many Bhutanese, Tshering Dhendup said that through the initiative, he has realised reading habit should be inculcated from an early stage, although one can develop at a later stage. “This is exactly why BRI happened. Although we’ve good libraries, the readership has extended to only a handful of individuals. So, such an initiative only helps a person read a book.”

However, BRI has a teething problem too where record keeping has become difficult, which is why when a member borrows a book voluntarily, they have to update on the Facebook page.

“Now that the BRI is gaining popularity among civil servants, we plan to tie up with a courier service provider to help pass the books. However, BRI do not generate any revenue,” Tshering said.

Meanwhile, taking forward the initiative, some of the members have also carried a similar pattern in their locality. For instance, a member of Sherubtse College has replicated the idea in the college and another one in Paro and Mongar.