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Baje hooking local bookworms

Donna Sealy

Baje hooking local bookworms
Dawn Leacock (GP)

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If there is one thing that Dawn Leacock likes, it’s a new book.

She inhales that new book smell as she gently cracks the pages being careful not to expand it too much even though she is excited to delve into the story.

Dawn delights in browsing the shelves and taking in the array in her favourite bookstores. Revelling in her finds and capitalising on those discounts during sales also make her happy.

On April 17, the bookstagrammer will celebrate the first anniversary of her Instagram book club Baje Bookclub, started to share her love of reading and prompting others to indulge.

The “big” James Patterson and David Baldacci fan told Weekend Buzz that starting the book club was something she always wanted to do. So shortly after the country recorded its first COVID-19 positive case last year and was on lockdown, she decided to do just that.

Before the pandemic, she would trade books and chat with a workmate who also loved Patterson’s work. So animated were they when they discussed a book that colleagues passing by often asked which movie it was.

“We would say it was a James Patterson book and it was just that good. That’s how it started,” Dawn said.

After sharing her desire to start the club, a friend told her about Barbadian author Callie Browning, whom she reached out to. She also searched for #bookstagram, which she’d heard about.

Baje hooking local bookworms
This is Dawn Leacock’s stack of James Patterson novels. (GP)

“The purpose of the book club really was to promote reading. I don’t feel a lot of people do fun reading. People read the newspaper. You read for knowledge, yes, and education, but just fun reading and talking about a book as if it was as good as a movie [doesn’t seem to be done a lot]. So, I just decided to start the Baje Bookclub and it took off,” said Dawn.

There are no membership fees and, for obvious reasons, no face-to-face meetings to discuss the book of the month.

“I started by sharing a joke, something educational about reading and the benefits of reading for adults and for children. I got into talking more to Callie and I also started to meet bookstagrammers from France, US, Jamaica, and Trinidad.

“Talking to Callie also showed me the Read Caribbean movement, a hashtag started by a young Jamaican lady who is in Trinidad, which then exposed me to read Caribbean authors. I started with Callie’s book Girl With The Hazel Eyes, which was amazing. Any book that you can hear the Bajan accent in, I enjoy.”

Her content is usually out weekly and people are free to follow and comment on anything.

“I occasionally, but not every month, have an Instagram chat. This month, if you go on the page, you’ll see a schedule of books I’m reading. I encourage persons to share – when I complete the review of the book – their plans to read a book,” she told Buzz.

Dawn also held buddy reads and hosted a meeting via Zoom to discuss a book and once an author joined in.

She still reads Patterson’s books, but she’s been reading more Barbadian authors apart from Browne. Among them are Cherie Jones, Dahlia Rose, Wilmont St Cyr, Kim Ramsay, Kerisha Went and Alison Browne-Ellis and she intends to add to that list.

Has she been able to get more people to read?

“I actually did. I have found a few persons who have found that love of reading from what I’ve shared. I’m happy to get a few more people reading Barbadian books . . . Persons have reached out to me to source books as well. I think the [number] of followers is now 536 and slowly but surely, it is growing,” said Dawn.