Wouldn’t you want to Uncage your Books?

07 Apr,2021


By Sanjeev Kotnala

Sanjeev KotnalaLockdown. Unlock. Partial lockdown. Night Curfew. You have experienced it all in the last year. And some of you are experiencing some form of it even now. You now know how it feels to be caged. Have you ever thought of the books caged neatly in the fancy cupboards, books racks and walls? An emotional testimony to your interest in a broad spectrum of subjects. Considering that they are not mere trophies on display. The books waiting for someone to take them out and help themselves to the knowledge that otherwise remained trapped inside. Many have never been referred to, and many will never have their pages flicked again. Some books have yellowed down with time. They silently cry and urge you to uncage the books.


Last week, I cleaned and dusted my bookracks. Checked the books I own. The books were spread all over and seemed like the old book bazaar of Daryaganj in New Delhi. And I realised it was time for my annual ritual:  UNCAGE THE BOOKS.

Like every book lover, I love reading and keeping books. However, I know the books that I will never again refer to. They are just there in the book rack. I must help them find the new readers, who could be helped with the knowledge, smile, thoughts trapped within them. These books must be made to again feel wanted. I must UNCAGE THE BOOK. The books must be realise their potential instead of remaining buried in the open graveyard- the books rack and cupboards.

Doctors, Lawyers and many other professionals are in a perpetual learning mode. They have many books they need to access with high frequency. New theories, processes and continued learning necessitate the need for new books and updated volumes. They cannot uncage the books.

However, there are thousands of neglected books in other places. Books that have never been opened again. The pages that have not been flipped for ages. Books, with a negligible chance of ever being reread. Should they not be liberated- UNCAGED- so that someone else could benefit.

Why not share them instead of keeping them caged? Why not pass them to people who may want to read them? Why not UNCAGE the books you no longer need?



I am sure every house will find books that are waiting to be uncaged. Academic Books.

Help books. Stories. Fiction. Non-fiction. Memories. Autobiographies. Thought leadership books. Professional books. Subject books Keys and kunjies. Exam preparatory books. Books that have served their purpose. Unless well maintained and kept like in a museum of pride, they will rot and one day- someday they will be discarded- may be sold to a raddiwaala.

Why not just UNCAGE THE BOOKS, help someone, share the books. Extend their life. Share it with the person who wants it. Who is willing to pick it or pay at least for the delivery. Maybe for some needy people, you even pay for the delivery.


I have been formally UNCAGING the books since 2016. The first time ever, it was challenging and emotionally draining. Now, I look forward to t. It is an annual ritual with me.

At least more than 350 books of mine have found new readers and owners. When I uncage the book and send them on their journey to meet the new owner or reader, I take time to add a personalised message. I ask them to part of the chain. Request them not to cage the books they get from me, or they already have. I tell them to join the ‘UNCAGE THE BOOKS’ movement. Ask them too to uncage the books they no longer need. And to keep the book burial ground least populated.

There is an added advantage. Uncaging the books is a cleansing ritual. While you select the books to uncage, you realise your interest and subjects that really interest and impress you. You create a gap, space, a void where books used to be. This acts as a push to go ahead and get more books. You become a lot more selective while picking new books.


This year too, I am uncaging more than 50 books. You can find the pictures of the books being uncaged in my weekly column ‘KotMartial’ on mmxindia.com and my social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Some friends who know of the rituals have already blocked a few of the books. But a large number of books are open to the public.


So, pick the book you want and let me know. Put a message on any of the social media account or this article. Please mention the books you would want along with your name and city. We will get to the address at a later date.

I follow the ‘First Come First Served’ rule. But at times, I override it. As I wish to spread books and the UNCAGE THE BOOKS thought as wide as possible, I try giving away not more than four books to a person. This also helps to ensure these uncaged books are relay read and the purpose of Uncaging is served. YOU CAN FIND THE PICTURES OF BOOKS BEING UNCAGED IN 2021, ACROSS THIS ARTICLE.  All Chanakya books go to one place one reader – as I believe interested person should read them all.



Here is a particular set of books and CD. The three volumes of Mosaic that you see in the picture are a compilation of best print ads in and around 2008-1014. And the CD are the best TV ads making to Cannes in the early part of the century. I hope some agency, consultancy, and better, some institute will pick them. They go as a set, or they go to Raddi- the readers decide.

And then there is this set of National Geographic  a and Traveller, which I think some library or resort should pick up.



Keep the books you think you will refer to again. Check out the books that are dear to you and the ones you will not want to uncage. Don’t uncage the ones you plan to read again. I have my own set of books; I do not intend to UNCAGE.

I understand the emotions people have with books and why they cannot come to terms with the concept of UNCAGE THE BOOKS. It is fine, I was like that before. Books shifted stations and house with me. Till 2014 when for the first time, I tried uncaging the books.


If you are a regular traveller, you could always carry the book you want to UNCAGE and leave it with a surprise note for the next passenger to find it. Come to think of it. You could be starting a chain reaction. Suddenly and surely, you will contribute to books finding more readers. I have in the past left books in the seat pockets of aircraft. I leave them with a cheeky note for the next passenger who may find it. Move on, share the books, un-cage them from their graveyard. However, in the current Covid-19 scare, one does not really suggest this pattern. In fact, my first book by Priya Kumar, I think I found in an Indigo flight.


Gifting books is a different game. There you consciously make a choice. You try matching the reader and the title or the message. I do that. I gift select books to people I believe will best benefit from them. I do that regularly. I find books a far better gift on occasions like birthdays, farewells, anniversaries etc.

My favourite book to give away has moved and changed with time. Initially, the gift book would be THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill, which later changed to TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE by Mitch Albom. For some time, I gifted  CATALYST by Chandramouli Venkatessan. I then moved to gifting his second book, GETTING BETTER AT GETTING BETTER. Then for some time, I gave the book SPRING- BOUNCING BACK FROM REJECTION by Ambi Parameswaran. My current favourite for gifting is ‘THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom.


I have been trying to start a conversation. No, I have not really moved further on it. Last time, I did try to hint this to an industry association to encourages this sharing of knowledge. They have to make space available on their platform for people to share the books they want to uncage. Visitors could identify the book they want – know the delivery charges- pay them upfront, and get the book. Sounds silly. It could be a start-up idea. And if someone does see a possibility, I am willing to join hands and start it up.


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