Penguin to bring classics back to Delhi’s first open air library

March 9th, 2009 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Classic literature is making a comeback to the capital through a unique open air library.
Publishing major Penguin India is trying to revive interest in reading classics with a six-day open-air “Penguin Classics Library” at the amphitheatre in the India Habitat Centre in the capital March 12-18.

The library is the first of its kind in the capital, said Hemali Sodhi of Penguin, the brain behind the project.

“It will offer readers an entire range of Penguin classics comprising more than 1,500 books from around the world, down the ages in three imprints - Black, Modern and Puffin,” Sodhi told IANS, adding the reasons for setting up the open-air library are two-fold.

“We wanted to showcase the best of the Penguin classics, one of the largest in the world and get back this whole culture of going to libraries, and browsing and reading, which is a dying concept. We wanted to link the sheer pleasure of reading to the habit of reading,” Sodhi said.

Readers will also be able to browse, read and discuss their favourite books. “To promote interactive participation, the publishing house will also start a ‘Blog a Penguin India Classic’ at, where readers and book clubs across the country can blog about their favourite Penguin classics.”

The library will have makeshift book racks across the amphitheatre and readers can sit on the steps, flanking the amphitheatre - which will be converted to carpeted seats - to read.

The library will unveil its treasure with a jazz concert March 12 and follow it up with exciting events throughout the week. “For instance, author Advaita Kala will read out from her favourite classic, along with Bhaskar Ghose. We will also organise a classics quiz,” Sodhi said.

Rabindranath Tagore’s classic “Nationalism”, a political comment in which the Nobel laureate criticised the nation-state in both east and west and offered his vision of a society independent of it, will be released March 17 at the library.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will anchor the launch in conversation with author-commentator Ramachandra Guha, who has written the foreword for the book, on “What Makes A Book A Classic”. The library will also have separate section on Indian classics.

The publishing house will also host special classic promotion campaigns across Indian cities.

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