- 31 Aug 2021
Anand Solanki, a 45-year-old bookseller in Pune is gradually gaining popularity for his ability to recommend books better than Goodreads!
If you think about it, our lives are like books with countless chapters. Good, bad, happy, and sad – we anchor the stories of our lives as they unfold. These chapters are beautiful experiences that are felt and lived through. When talking about books and life, it is believed that books are man’s best creation, a record of the past designed to guide future generations. For avid readers, books are a pleasant escape. They give them the freedom to imagine, a chance to explore, and above all, hope. Reading is a beneficial (and harmless!) hobby, one that parents want their children to grow into. What’s important to understand is that hobbies are gradually developed and often at a young age.
With modern, digital solutions available, a child’s imagination and ability to explore has taken a backseat. Children today may never understand the joy of reading a good novel - the sweet smell of rusty book pages, the fancy page markers and those tiny notes for special quotes. These are some of the simplest and underrated pleasures of reading and unfortunately, left unexplored by today's generation.
While we hope and wish for our future generations to not give up on the art of reading, there is a local hero who helps people develop a fondness for reading. This man can read you like a book and get hold of your taste with a single conversation. He has helped countless people fall in love with reading, simply through his recommendations. Most people assume that doctors, engineers, and lawyers hold the most knowledge, but they tend to neglect such silent heroes of society. His aura and optimism towards books and reading can transform nonreaders into avid readers. This man is none other than Anand Solanki, a well-known bookseller in Pune city.
45-year-old Anand is famous across Pune city (and many others), commonly known for: a) the variety of books across genres on his bookstall, and b) his ability to recommend books based on your preference. Have you ever heard of a local bookseller who suggests books better than Goodreads? Well, now you have! His father established this bookstall in 1989 and financial instabilities gradually led Anand to taking over his father’s business after 12th grade. Growing up, Anand closely observed his father interact with customers and talk about books with great joy. A father of twin boys and sole earner for a family of 7, Anand finds his solace amidst books. He never had the opportunity to complete his higher studies and works every day to ensure that his sons get access to all forms of education. “I encourage my boys to read, with pride! I enjoy recommending books to them, and my bookstall is no less than an ocean of knowledge for my boys”, he said.
Although reading was not his childhood hobby, Anand developed a love for books once he started engaging with customers. His ability to recommend books springs out of his love for interacting with people. He tends to remember people by making conversation with them, understanding their genre preferences, and recommending books that fit their taste. His unique suggestions keep customers coming back for more, and if you dislike a book he suggests, you can return it for full price, although this never happens!
“Over the years, I have recommended books to countless people. I learn from customer feedbacks and recommend books across genres, including fiction, spirituality, motivation, science, and biographies. I have developed my knowledge to an extent I never thought I could. I like customizing each reader’s experience with me, because that is something they remember, and it feels like our conversations flow even after months of zero contact.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020, most people lost their jobs or were forced to shut down their businesses, but not for Mr. Solanki. After years of offline selling, Anand finally hit the digital road and posted an appeal on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook that spread like wildfire. His posts were shared by celebrities and eventually helped him keep his business up and running. He began home-delivering books around his neighborhood. “When the lockdown was relaxed back in May 2020, I started home delivering books free of cost, and sold more than 30 books each day”, he said. His aim is to encourage people to get into the habit of reading, especially the younger generation. He even goes out of his way to encourage local authors by promoting their work in his daily conversations.
“I believe it is essential to introduce the right kind of books to children from the young age of 5. Once they have that one book they love, they will grow up to be teens who have a well-developed love for reading, and adults who relish reading as a hobby. It all boils down to finding that one book that inspires a reader to explore.”
“I’m not as educated as my customers, yet every day, I influence their choice. It’s not limited to the number of books I sell. My customers come back for my recommendations and because they enjoy the customized experience, I willingly create for them. There’s power in influencing a reader’s choice, and I have had the chance to experience it with countless readers across all ages. I’m beyond grateful for this part of my life. At 45, I think there’s so much more I can do to help people fall in love with books, so many conversations waiting to unfold.” Giving for Good Foundation looks up to silent heroes like Anand. People like Anand Solanki help us believe that real life superheroes exist, but they are not always wearing capes. Sometimes, they are waiting on the side of the road with a novel in each hand.
Sakshi dreams of writing a gripping murder mystery – unless she’s creating content and building the Giving for Good brand. She’s a tennis player, a swimmer, a crime fiction enthusiast, and a twenty-something-year-old who enjoys volunteer work.