Dubai Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” He may have lost the war, but according to the UAE-based The Page Turners Club, the disgraced emperor may have been onto something.
But what is this club that is so enamoured of Napoleon’s philosophy?
It all started out with a photo of a football stadium in Turkey turned into a reading zone for all.
A Facebook user shared the photo and expressed her wish that this could be done where she lives. A random discussion among friends followed, turning that wish into an open reading day. This was last year.
Then last summer Ahmad Abugosh, a 24-year-old American online marketing analyst, started sending out Facebook invites to his friends to keep reading sessions alive. They responded positively and Abugosh has been since organising these reading days along with his friend Ahmad Al Farkh, a 25-year-old Canadian entrepreneur.
And so twice a month on Saturdays seven to 12 people gather to read for an hour and a half, followed by half an hour of discussion, of the book or books chosen by the readers. The club is currently hosting its reading sessions at the Sharjah Art Foundation from 4 to 6pm.
“We started this initiative because it’s intellectually enriching. As an activity it broadens my horizons, however, doing it in the context of a group is even better because I will not limit myself solely to my own understanding of the written word,” said Al Farkh.
Those who decide to show up do not necessarily have to read the same book. They can bring any book of their choice, but Al Farkh feels it would be much better if they could all read the same book.
“I’d rather have people read the same book, that way I can hear different takes on the same reading material. I find how people can read the same book, but come up with entirely unique conclusions interesting,” said Al Farkh
However, he maintains that be it a different book or the same, “I get to see things from a different perspective. I find the experience enlightening.”
Abugosh is of the opinion that people nowadays read because they have to – “for school, or work, but never for pleasure or learning”.
“They just don’t take joy in it anymore,” said Abugosh, adding that he reads for his own personal enjoyment as well as growth.
“I like to see people growing into who they’re meant to become, that can only be done by reading, I believe if people the world over were more aware, world problems will be solved in a civilised manner,” said Abugosh.
The club’s mission statement says: “By reading a book, we take our minds to new lengths. But when our minds come together in discourse, they surmount the impossible.”
No wonder Napoleon’s statement found a deep resonance among its members.