Finding ourselves in pages -- Ira Gopal and Piyushi Sharma

We’re Ira Gopal and Piyushi Sharma, co-founders and hosts of The 5 Minute Library and marketing enthusiasts from Pune, Maharashtra. If we try to sum up the global happenings of the past year for the sake of context, we might fail in our attempt to capture how disturbing they truly were. We are very thankful for having the luxury of a safe house and a comfortable lockdown, but were seriously undermining the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. One of us (Ira) had suddenly left a city she loved and had found her niche in, and the other (Piyushi) was bracing herself to make a drastic career switch.

Through sleepovers and long walks in our society we found out we had more in common than being 20-something women in Pune, we were both eager to take our next step but completely confused about what it should be. With a mutual love for planning and checklists, we both had a pretty solid idea of where we would want to be at this stage. Instead we found ourselves on career paths we hadn’t anticipated and on the way to questioning what made us, us. We wanted a space where we could explore ourselves and our ideas freely, and also enable others in our mindspace to escape, even momentarily, from the psychological stress we’re all facing. Banking on our love for books and the ability to talk endlessly, we decided to pursue the one belief that still held true; that there’s a perfect book out there for each one to get lost in, and find themselves in. After all, we had grown up drawing from Jo’s sense of independence, Hermione’s love for literature, and the Famous Five’s thirst for adventure. We came up with the idea of launching our own podcast to foster a reading culture among Millennials and Gen Z by helping them pick their next read through byte-sized reviews.

When we started to act upon our vision, the implication of what we wanted to achieve hit us. It meant putting ourselves and our opinions out in a world that streamed over 30 million podcast episodes globally. It meant expressing ourselves through the colours in our logo, the intro soundtrack we selected, the Reels we shot overcoming our camera-consciousness, and the books we chose to talk about. It meant building our personal brand, at a time when we were unsure whether we knew enough about ourselves, books, and podcasting to truly put ourselves out there. We had read enough to know the term we were looking for was ‘Imposter Syndrome’, and we were in a constant battle against it in our personal and professional lives.

Knowing what we were up against was hardly enough, but we helped each other take small steps to rise above it together. We listed down each book we had read in the past that we felt we could talk about, went over everything in our education that could help us with our initiative, an