Published: 02nd March 2019
Meet Mumbaikar Kadambari Rushin Mehta, India's first official 'Book Fairy' who is sharing her love for reading with everyone
The Book Fairies movement was launched in India on March 8, 2017, and Kadambari Rushin Mehta from Mumbai was one of the first official Book Fairies in the country
Do you believe in fairies? What about becoming one yourself? Unrealistic much? Here's what you can do though — you can become a Book Fairy. They are a tad bit different from the conventional ones that have wings. The idea of Book Fairies is pretty simple. If you become a book fairy you are given a chance to pop a sticker and some ribbon on a book that you want others to read, make it a little surprise gift for someone, or simply leave it somewhere to be discovered!
The Book Fairies movement was launched in India on March 8, 2017, a year later, and Kadambari Rushin Mehta from Mumbai was one of the first official Book Fairies in the country. India was among the first adopters of the movement when it spread worldwide in 2017.
"We currently have almost 9,000 people sharing books in over 100 countries, and in India, we have more than 50 book fairies now. In April 2017 I became a book fairy, as anyone can become one, all you need to do is order your stickers and start sticking them on the books you have that you want to drop. In July that year, I became an official book fairy for Mumbai," says Kadambari.
The Book Fairies movement, which can trace back its origin in the United Kingdom, where on March 8, 2016, a day also celebrated as International Women’s Day, its founder Cordelia Oxley first came up with the concept.
For the love of books: In Mumbai alone, in the last two years, the book fairies have distributed over 500 books and the count ranges from 300 to 600 books in other cities
Kadambari breaks down the process for us."It's quite simple actually. First, you need to log on to www.ibelieveinbookfairies.
In Mumbai alone, in the last two years, the book fairies have distributed over 500 books and the count ranges from 300 to 600 books in other cities — which means that these many people have been lucky and also have hopefully attempted to read a book. Ranging across genres like fiction, non-fiction, regional languages, children’s books, these book fairies share varied kinds of books with you. The only criteria that they must keep in mind at all times, adds Kadambari, is to ensure that the books they choose are not offensive to anyone.
How does it feel to be a book fairy?
"Honestly it is surprising as when I first started distributing I did not think it would snowboard into something this huge. It was something that appealed to me as a passionate reader, the idea of sharing a book with somebody. And the idea that if I was the founder at some point and I picked up a book left by someone, how elated I would be, so it just stems from that. For most of us, it is that for all the book fairies it is a pure feeling of joy, something you love so much. Now that it has grown so much, we are realising the impact it has on the bigger scheme of things, you are actually very satisfied to be a part of something like this," says Kadambari.
Where do the book fairies procure the books from?
Initially, Kadambari started dropping books from her own collection, after that when we got some recognition we had other book lovers who donated books too.
"We now have a number of publishing houses, independent publishers and authors and other people, who understand what we are trying to do, have come forward to help us. We also have this thing called book fairy for a day, where authors choose to become book fairies for that one day and drop their own books. We also have specific days like the Indie-author day where we distribute books only written by independent authors, then we have biography days and more to make it fun" says Kadambari.
Kadambari, who is a storyteller and a children's book curator herself, thinks more and more people should read books.
Books, of course, open up a whole new world. I have also been thinking about this a lot lately that how information is becoming more valuable, and how books allow you to understand different perspectives and delve into parallel mindsets at the same time. People are so biased with the things they read on the internet and it is so difficult to differentiate the connect from what is real and what is fake. Books are there to help you create that sense of judgment, helps you make your own opinions
Kadambari Rushin Mehta, Book Fairy
Kadambari has had her share of heart-warming moments while playing her role as a book fairy. "So, we have Instagram accounts for each country and then each city through which we work and spread the information. We have followers on the accounts and we put out information about books being dropped. Keeping our identity secret is of utmost importance so we use these official Insta accounts for each city and country. It's really exciting how the followers keep tracking us. There was this one incident in Delhi where a follower directly messaged the book fairy and asked for the exact location to where the book was being dropped. We drop books at restaurants, so there have been instances where people call up the restaurants and ask them to hold the book and not give it to anyone else," she shares while laughing.
Now, do you believe in the book fairies? I hope you do. Don't wait and become one or go out and look for a book! Let us make it a little easier for you, here are some hideaways where you can likely find a book — cafes, restaurants, public parks, bus stops, sometimes even public transport, and even public art festivals such as the Kala Ghoda festival in Mumbai.