When I returned to Malaysia, I was determined to have a life beyond "work, come home, sleep, wake up, work". I wanted to extend my social sphere. I wanna get to know more people. You know, that word: "network". But for fun purposes, not work, of course.
But I wasn't having much luck connecting with new people. I tried linking up with writers, but we scribes are a reclusive, eccentric lot, which meant that not all personalities would gel.
I complained about this to a friend, and he casually mentioned that he had way more fun hanging out with readers than writers. So, I thought: Hmm, yeah, I am in love with reading so why not join a book club?
I can't remember how I stumbled on the Kuala Lumpur Book Appreciation Club, but I joined very tentatively. But over time, after hesitant posts about books and my current reads, I found the KLBAC folks a fun and welcoming lot. A brief brush with a troll nearly put me off, but the group's founder Diana Yeong was incredibly efficient and settled the matter asap. I felt then and there that this was a club where I can be myself and be safe.
Fun with books
Over time, I met some of the members in real life. I sold and exchanged books with them, hung out at KLBAC-run parties. Some KLBACers have become fast friends and even a sisterhood of sorts (hello cumbu girls!). What I love about KLBAC is that I get to not just share my passion about books but also meet people with such diverse backgrounds, careers, and interests. I wouldn't have met these folks if not for the group.
The Big Bad Wolf sale, something I've attended religiously almost every year became a huge social affair. KLBAC members would "attack" the venue en masse and have a jolly time together. This certainly has not gone unnoticed as the folks behind Big Bad Wolf has given us special passes, discounts, and even a tour of their warehouse as a result!
I even got to become a panelist at a KLBAC-orgnaised forum and talk about one of my favourite genres - romance!
The biggest benefit from joining KLBAC, at least to me, is the joy of meeting so many interesting people and the acceptance I've gotten from the group. For a person transitioning back to a life in Malaysia after years abroad, this is a big thing.
KLBAC's group chemistry is rare and precious as the strength of a group truly depends on the ability and diplomacy of the administrators, and KLBAC's "boss people" are one of the best I've seen. And they do this all free - how??
So yes, do join this group if you love books. (Search for it on Facebook.) It's a wonderful, welcoming community. The rarest of its kind. They have book discussions where they discuss a specific book outside cyberspace, parties, book swaps and parties.
The secret to being a part of this group is not really a secret: Be open, be generous, be polite and welcoming, and most of all, talk about books!