Pushpa Poddar along with sales head Vishal at Book Zone in Sonargali near Gandhi Chowk in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A house without books is like a room without windows, American education reformer Horace Mann had once said and one that a Ranchi couple has found close to their heart.
So, for those who live to read, the address of businessman Vinod Poddar (50) and his better half Pushpa (45) can be the final destination. Tucked away in Sonargali, one of the oldest and narrowest lanes near Gandhi Chowk in Upper Bazar, the two-storey house is like an oasis for the thirsty mind amid the din and commotion of garment shops, jewellery stores, tea kiosks and eateries.
Book Zone, as the 2,000sqft ground floor of the Poddar home is called, boasts more than 5,000 tome treasures, including children’s publications, fictions, non-fictions, sci-fi volumes, autobiographies and encyclopedias by national and international authors.
What sets this place apart from other bookstores is the warm, homely ambience brewed in a cup of coffee, thoughtful seating and décor and the optimum use of space. The neatly arranged shelves welcome readers between 10am and 8pm every day as Book Zone doubles up as a sit-in library and shop where you can buy that rare classic.
A 200sqft area on the same floor has been turned into a theme corner. The guitar and the tabla lead readers to books like The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments and Learn How to Play Guitar. Similarly, a football announces the presence of tomes dedicated to the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Books on yoga and religion are represented by beautiful wind chimes while the pet section flaunts soft toys and the four volumes of Animal Behaviour worth Rs 75,000.
“The theme section is particularly popular because bookworms are able to identify what they need without having to sift through too many shelves,” said homemaker Pushpa, a voracious reader who conceptualised Book Zone last year and turned dream into reality three months ago. “Yahan jo bhi aate hain, khush ho kar jate hain (Whoever comes here leaves with a smile),” she added.
Another unique feature of this home bookstore is a section devoted to top 10 most-read volumes across the globe. It includes The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank on World War II, The Lord of The Rings by epic fantasy novelist J.K. Rowling and the thrilling The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Books of general interests include Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray (Rs 299), I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Rs 399), the autobiography Dilip Kumar: the Substance and the Shadow (Rs 599) and the pictorial biography To Be or Not to Be Amitabh Bachchan by Khalid Mohamed (Rs 3,500).
Besides English, Book Zone also boasts a Hindi section with Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s Rashmrathi at Rs 125 and Samaj Vigyan Vishwakosh in all six volumes at Rs 6,000.
The Poddars visit Delhi every year to source their collection from the World Book Fair. Cool as they are, the couple does not believe books to be business. “We want avid readers to spend quality time at Book Zone. Even if they are not buying, they can relax and read over a cup of hot coffee,” said Pushpa.