Read more: Pick up free books, leave your own at city kiosks

Gurugram: Pick a book, leave a book — a novel idea to encourage the dying reading habits of people busy with their hectic lifestyles is fast catching up in the city, thanks to an initiative by a retired 72-year-old veterinarian.
Dr VK Narula, a resident of Sector 56, has set up two book kiosks — one each in Huda Market and Gracious Tower, PNACO CGHS, in Sector 56 — called ‘Books pick up and own, drop you owned’. The books here are available free of cost for anyone who wants to read. All people have to do is pick up a book they find interesting, and if they want, leave of their own for others.

From mythology to history and current affairs to fiction, each kiosk has more than 150 books. More are being added to the collection every day.

“I have been an avid reader since childhood. I had more than 2,000 books which were gathering dust at my place. So I thought why not let others read these books?” says Narula.

The first thing Narula did was buy a second-hand kiosk that was earlier used as a grocery shop at Gracious Tower. “For Rs 2,000, I purchased a second-hand kiosk from a ragpicker’s shop. Soon, people started coming and taking the books. Initially, there were 50 books, which grew to 100, 200 and eventually 300,” he recalls.

Narula makes it a point to visit the kiosks twice a week to understand how many more books he should add. He says his concept is clear — that “anyone can come and take books from the kiosk and not have to pay a penny”.

“I didn’t want anyone to pay and read. The books are available free of cost and people can come and go through the books and take what they want. There is no restriction; one can take two or more than five books. The objective is to de-tech people from their mobile phones and encourage them to read,” says Narula.

Seven months ago, Narula started a free library in his society in Sector 56 and bought 800 books but no one came to read. “I decided to place all those books in the kiosks,” he says.

When he started the kiosks, the veterinarian used to get books from his house. Today, publishers come and offer to give him books.

Both the kiosks are open all week throughout the day. Books on elementary chemistry, advanced computers, architecture, nursery rhymes, as well as comics and do-it-yourself books can be found. “People of all ages come to the kiosks, from youngsters to elderly people,” says Narula.

He says he has asked society guards to look after the Gracious Tower kiosk in Sector 56, and a photocopy shop owner to take care of the one at Huda Market.

“I know that some ragpickers will come and take the books and sell them, (but) it’s fine with me. My objective is to make one person go back to books every single day,” says Narula.

While the first kiosk came up in February, the Huda Market kiosk, which Narula bought for Rs 5,000, started functioning six days ago.

“I have seen people coming and bringing books from their homes to the kiosks. Now, I plan to put more such kiosks in other places in the city,” says Narula, a veterinary graduate of 1968 batch from College of Veterinary Sciences, Hisar.
Nirula has a son who stays in London and another who works in the US.

“If I die, I don’t know where these books will go or who will take them. So, I thought of doing some charitable work and giving books to people is my way of contributing to the society,” he added..