Bookstagram, a worldwide community that denotes clicking pictures of books for one's Instagram feed, is the perfect place for sharing bookish wisdom in artistic ways. It has now found a foothold in Bangladesh, especially among young readers. Bearing that in mind, Litmosphere, a prominent online book club that provides a platform for people to share their viewpoints on books and much more, organised Imbue Presents A Thousand Words, a one-of-a-kind exhibition on book photography from August 17-18 at Gallery Chitrak, in celebration of two years of the club's founding. Rubaiya Tasnim Chowdhury, the founder of Litmosphere, describes the event as the closest real-life experience of what it is like to be a part of the virtual book club. It highlights the journey of Litmosphere and the love for reading that is common in all its members.
“We wanted to shed light on Bangladeshi readers who enjoy photography and click beautiful book-themed pictures because many still remain in the shadows and do not recognise this phenomenon as a valid art form,” explains Rubaiya. A major objective of the event is to inspire more people to try out Bookstagram and pick up a book or two to read.
From over 450 photograph submissions, 30 were selected under the general category and 25 were selected under the bookstagram category for the exhibition. These photographs are exclusively by Litmosphere's members. Prominent photographers Sazzad Ibne Sayed, Mahmud Hossain and Opu Munem Wasif were the judges. Abir Abdullah, Principal of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, is the chief guest.
For creative bibliophile Nabila Nawar Binti, Bookstagram is a place for finding information on new releases and authors as well as books that match her taste. She developed an interest in photography, made many friends and began participating in Bookstagram challenges after joining the community in 2016.
Pictures for Bookstagram can be anything from the book itself, objects that evoke something from the book to someone reading the book, the reader's favorite reading spot at home, or a favorite local coffee shop or bookstore. “While clicking a picture, I look around for things that will match the book's story or cover,” says Muskan Mortuza Mustarin. “Some good props to use are flowers, candles and my personal favourite – fairy lights. I believe having a high-quality camera is not a pre-requisite for joining Bookstagram. All you need is a good set up.”
Besides book photography, book reviews, stalls for books and merchandise, contests, a mini library, a reading nook, storytelling and open mic sessions and food are central parts of Imbue Presents A Thousand Words. People also sipped cups of coffee while reading.
Perhaps the most important guest is a physically challenged vendor who sells books in Dhaka's traffic every day. The Litmosphere family raised up to Tk 1 lakh for him through an auction of books that the club's admin panel bought from the man. The members came forward to pay huge amounts for local prints, donate money and even put their own books up for grabs. Lit Mama, as the Litmosphere family fondly calls him, will receive the proceeds from that auction on the occasion. Twingle- Premium Ice-Cream, Navana LPG, BSM LED and OWW Trading & Ship Breaking are the silver sponsors of the event.
Overall, Imbue Presents A Thousand Words is a picturesque, cosy and fascinating event. For those who have not visited the exhibition yet, it is still open today and definitely worth a visit!