A book club by the beach

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Ishmael Samad outside his stall along the Manzanilla stretch,on Sunday.
TIMOTHY CHASTEAU

So­cial ac­tivist, Ish­mael Samad, has caught the eyes of book lovers with his un­ortho­dox stall lo­cat­ed along the Man­zanil­la stretch.

Stand­ing along­side some one-dozen oth­er stalls sell­ing fruits and oth­er pro­duce, Samad’s “Book Junkie” of­fers a dif­fer­ent kind of com­merce from what one would ex­pect to find at the road­side.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia in front of the stall in Man­zanil­la on Sun­day, Samad said not on­ly was it a book store, but it’s al­so a li­brary and book club.

“You can come and buy books if you wish, if you want to come and spend the whole day read­ing—that’s fine, no charge,” he said.

The “cab­in,” as he calls it, is pop­u­lat­ed with books he’s col­lect­ed over the years and at yard and book sales. They range from “the­ol­o­gy, phi­los­o­phy, his­to­ry, pol­i­tics, you name it. There’s some­thing for you.”

Some books which he be­lieves are spe­cial or im­por­tant are re­served for the li­brary and aren’t for sale.

“Books are your best friends and the peo­ple who come here, we all have one thing in com­mon—we love read­ing books,” he said.

Samad said he was grate­ful for the pub­lic’s re­sponse to his ini­tia­tive, and af­ter re­ceiv­ing over a dozen vis­i­tors on Sat­ur­day, he was able to raise enough mon­ey to pay his first month’s rent of $200. He hopes that one day the stall would be­come a na­tion­al in­sti­tu­tion but in the mean­time, he said: “…this is an op­por­tu­ni­ty for me to pass on my love for books to my fel­low Tri­nis, es­pe­cial­ly the young gen­er­a­tion.”

He al­so plans to ac­quire an­oth­er “cab­in” so he can have one ded­i­cat­ed to the store and the oth­er to house the li­brary and book club.

But why Man­zanil­la?

Samad ini­tial­ly tried to set up his shop in the San­gre Grande mar­ket but was de­clined. He then turned to streets in San­gre Grande but was told by po­lice he would on­ly be able to op­er­ate af­ter 5 pm. And that’s when he stum­bled up­on the “cab­in” in Man­zanil­la.

“And you know some­thing, this is an ex­ceed­ing­ly-beau­ti­ful part of Trinidad,” he said.

Samad de­scribes the area, more specif­i­cal­ly Ker­na­han Vil­lage, as his sec­ond home; falling in love with it af­ter vis­it­ing the area for bird watch­ing in Oc­to­ber last year.

Every week­end he has made the jour­ney from San­gre Grande to vis­it since then.

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