“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Bengaluru with its traffic, power cuts and bad roads is not at its best. There are some places that redeem it and one that sits high on the list is the Lightroom Bookstore. Children and adults (especially the ones that are disguising themselves as one) must make haste to seek respite and joy for all ills that plague our lovely city to a wonderful book- store, dedicated to children no less. Little Kulture is happy to showcase the superb Lightroom Bookstore as well as some observations by Aashti Mudnani, the creator and tender of light at the store.
Simon Roger’s Information Graphics: Animal Kingdom; Oliver Jeffers ‘The Incredible Book Eating Boy’; Neil Gaiman’s written and Chris Riddel illustrated The Sleeper and the Spindle – books that belong in the realm of keepsakes and heirlooms can be found at Lightroom.
Each book has been curated with care, a result of a careful combing of lists and categorisation. Lightroom like any well-cared-for child is steadily growing in girth and depth. The bookstore is after al,l a labour of love for Aashti, who dreamt, deliberated and started planning for the bookstore, with her six-week-old elder daughter in her arms.
Aashti’s love of books started very young, growing up in a house filled with books and a mother who read a lot, from titles that were time-passers to the thought provokers. A publisher uncle took her and her cousins to the Delhi Book Fair, where he got them the best discounts and an arm-load of books.
Aashti pooled money from friends and family, a legacy from her grandfather and her own deep reservoir of understanding to get Lightroom off the ground.Eight months after opening the store, an eviction order found Lightroom searching and finding its new home at 1, Lewis Road. Undeterred, Aashti redesigned her store and had an all day opening. Today Lightroom is both store and nerve centre, a happy space for children and book lovers to congregate, partake in story-telling workshops and discuss books.
Uncluttered and elegant, the books are the stars at Lightroom. Easily accessible, with helpful but not intrusive assistance at hand one can easily forget the passage of time at Lightroom.
If you are lucky, you will bump into Aashti who can tell you about each illustrator and writer. In her journey to get Lightroom up, she visited most of the children’s book publishers in Delhi and Chennai. You know that she knows each book intimately and has spent considerable time before deciding to stock it. She scans many sources before she chooses books that she would like children to experience. The booklist at Lightroom will take you from India to Australia, Kenya, Japan, England, France and the United States.
Some of the queries in my mind were, ” How to nudge children into reading more? What are the things to look for in a great book? What are the challenges ahead for the store?”
Aashti’s response to on how to make a reader out of child was that parents and care- givers need to read more themselves. Children being obedient followers of patterns they observe are more likely to read more if parents read more. To help the child become a more discerning reader, Aashti advises that parents keep a look-out for books that tell a story with messages that are passed on subtly, rather than overtly. A good idea that she imparted was to let the child pick a book of her choice and try another suggested book. For instance, the very popular Geronimo could be bundled with a C.S.Lewis. Once children have expanded their palates, they very often seek more.The best books she observes, are rarely morality tales.
Her biggest challenges currently are online competitors and affiliate blogs ( like Little Kulture). She intends to counter this by having a more visible online presence, updating customers about new arrivals, events and workshops that Lightroom plans to host. The challenge is to get people to the store because no one can visit this treasure store just once.
Bengaluru has more Domino stores than bookstores, of which a niche store like Lightroom can be counted on one’s fingers. Lightroom has grown from 800 books to 2000 in the past two years. Little Kulture hopes Lightroom has to shift quickly from its current space because it gets too big for its room.
If you are on the lookout for books to delight, to communicate, to marvel over, to become the start of many adventures, to gift, to hold tight and be read several times over, to be held in little hands and poured over Lightroom is the place.
Alain De Botton observed
“Writers open our hearts and minds and give us maps to our own selves.”
In an increasingly complex world, books become the torches with which to see a little better.It is never too early or unimportant to point children to books where they can pick up this map reading habit that will keep them well, long after we have gone. Lightroom Bookstore is a good place to start.
You can visit the Lightroom Bookstore at:
No.1 Lewis Road, Cooke Town, Bengaluru
Ph: 080 2546 0466
If you would like to stay updated about workshops conducted at Lightroom bookstore like their facebook page, Lightroom Bookstore.