#Spotlight on Assia - Something Bookish interview

Welcome to #Spotlight. If you are new to the blog, this is the interview series where you read about the most amazing humans who love books and all things bookish. Today’s #Spotlight is on Assia. You’re about to find out why in a bit.

Have you read my list of Bookstagrammers You Need To Follow For Diverse Reads? Assia’s is an account you MUST follow on Instagram if you want to enrich your reading life. And that’s all we want, right?

I love her personality, you don’t get to see much of her on the ‘gram but her joie de vivre shines through her reviews and book picks. I legit feel smart when I read her reviews, they are so enlightening. You always learn something.

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"When somebody speaks in the name of God I feel he means the opposite" – Zeina. . I have finally read my first Nawal al Saadawi. Zeina! Many thanks to Elizabeth (@saqibooks) for providing me with the three copies of Nawal Al Saadawi's books. . Zeina is a book hard to review for me because I don't want to reduce it to smashing the patriarchy so it's gonna be long! . If you know a little bit of Arabic, then you'll realize all throughout the story that the name Zeina carries a heavy meaning. Zeina means beautiful, and in a society where children are represented by they fathers' names, Zeina proudly writes "Zeina bint Zeinat" (Zeina daughter of Zeinat) on the black board – Zeinat being the old woman who raised her as she is an orphan, "a child of the street". . The story isn't about Zeina per se, it's about all the characters who are jealous, envious of Zeina. Zeina, a daughter of the street, doesn't live a life of luxury, she is poor, can't afford higher education. But she has 3 things everybody wants: she has freedom, love and a talent for music. Although poor, Zeina was raised with love she received love so she was able to give love in return. Because she grew poor, a daughter of "nobody really respectful" she didn't have rules to conform to, she was free from societies' rules which made her an honest person. She wasn't afraid of speaking her mind. And lastly Zeina had talent for music and she was beautiful. For all of these reasons everybody loved her. . In the other side, we have all the characters who hate her (& love her) because they don't have that freedom. They are usually wealthy people, famous with a reputation to maintain. That's when trouble comes. Nawal strongly depicts the dichotomy of these characters: their inner struggle between their desire & maintaining their reputation. Nobody is spared. Men and women. (Continued in comments👇🏼👇🏼) . . . #nawalalsaadawi #zeina #epyptianliterature #bannedbooks #bookreview #bookstagram #bookaddict #bibliophile #bookish #arabliterature #arablit #saqibooks

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Assia and I are in a group on Instagram called The African Review(you should check that out) and when you’re done with this interview, you’d love her as much as I do.


Where did your love of books /reading come from?

I learned to read French when I was around 6 or 7 years old and because we had just moved to France (from Algeria) my mum made sure we went to the local library once a week, and I was also very bored at home so books filled my time the right way. So I guess my love of books came from my mum and my boredom.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading?

I don’t like limiting myself so I read everything, except for poetry (it has to be very good for me to actually invest in a poetry book). These last few years, I have been into non-fiction, as well as historical fiction. These are probably my two favourite genres at the moment.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

The writing style for sure because it leads to everything else. The writing style can perfectly transmit emotions to the reader or it can just do nothing but be there. I think the writing style must measure up to the feelings and emotions it deals with. 

What’s the last great book you read?

I’m tempted to say Pachinko (I read it in 2017, that’s how great this book is!) but on a long second thought I’m going to say Anumpa Warrior by Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer (I love indigenous literature!).

Is there a classic book you never got around to reading until recently?

Probably an unpopular opinion but I don’t like European classics so there is nothing on that side. Honestly a classic book, I don’t think so, but a classic author YES! I recently finally read Naguib Mahfouz, the book I read – Mirrors – is apparently not a classic though.

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📚Book Review: The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla. "If I could, I'd push a copy of this through the letter now of every front door in Britain" Independent. And 🇫🇷! . I took my time with this book. I had already DNFed it twice when I recently decided to pick it up again. I was clearly not ready for this book when I first started it. I was reading this book while the Croatia-France game was on and the day France (or should I say Africa 😂) won the world cup! And the quotation on the back cover never felt so accurate than on that specific day. Let me remind you of it: . "What's it like to live in a country that doesn't trust and doesn't want you unless you win an Olympic gold medal or a national backing competition?" Or in our case, the world cup! . The timing could not have been more relevant than that day! As an immigrant myself and daughter of immigrant parents I saw my experiences reflected in some of the essays although I don't live in the UK. And it's totally okey if you can't identify or relate to a story. I didn't, but what I did is learn a great deal from them. I'm French Algerian Arab North African so me and my Chinese friends won't suffer from the same stereotypes but through these essays we both get a glimpse at what the other is dealing with. . Now there is one essay I want to touch on quickly. It's the last one: The Ungrateful Country by Musa Okwonga which in my opinion is the best essay to conclude with. I usually get told "you should be grateful you live in France…" no I don't think so. If there is one thing I should be grateful for it is my parents. And I believe this idea of gratefulness is not expressed in a right way. France, the UK/US, etc should be grateful for having us, immigrants because as far as I know our immigrant ancestors are the ones who paved the roads and they're still the ones doing menial jobs. I think this last essay works as a really good conclusion since it describes the hypocrisy of the country with only 3 words. . I can't but rate this book with 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟! If you're an immigrant you'll identify & if you aren't you get a glimpse at what the life of an immigrant looks like, the struggle we face on a daily basis.

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If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?

Korean. No doubt!

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

Hmm… I remember reading that the Choctaw Tribe helped the Irish when they suffered from the Potato Famine (1845-1852).

Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?

Autobiographies! I honestly don’t remember the last time I read an autobiography.

What is your policy on book lending?

Only lend books (I’ve read) to people who will take care of them. Then I don’t mind they can keep it as long as they want.

How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or simultaneously? Morning or night?

PAPER! I hate reading on my phone or laptop, I’m growing old and need to take care of my eyes. My sister recently got an epub, and meh not a huge fan but still better than reading on my phone. 

Usually, it’s one book at a time, I haven’t mastered the multi-book-reading technique yet.

Morning or Night? Both actually, it’s impossible for me to read during the day when everybody is around.

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HAPPY PUB DAY TO THE GOOD IMMIGRANT USA (AND YES I AM SHOUTING BECAUSE YOUR IMMIGRANT FRIEND IS HAPPY!) . Thank you very much @dialoguebooks for this copy! It was a surprise package I wasn't expecting and it made my day!!❤ . Have you read The Good Immigrant UK? If no then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of it. . I'm sure I must have said this a thousand times but I happened to be reading the good immigrant UK when France won the World Cup and the sentence at the back cover could not have been more accurate and relevant to that situation. I truly felt more empowered thanks to The Good Immigrant UK as an immigrant myself. A lot of people think that I am the daughter of immigrants but I'm not. My family and I are all immigrants and we needed this book. . As an Algerian who moved to France, then became both Algerian and French – as a French-Algerian – I thank the editors @Nshuklawhaat & @chimenesuleyman and all the writers for this US version of the book. We don't have books like this one in France to tackle this sensitive almost taboo topic. And I reiterate my wish too see a "The Good Immigrant 🇫🇷" see the light here in France 😊😊! My mother and sister don't speak English but I will make sure to share my reading experiences with them by translating and explaining passages that would be relevant to them. Just like I did with TGI UK. . Now if you understand French I strongly encourage you to listen to a specific episode of Kiffetarace podcast by @rokhayadiallo and @frenchgrace : EP4, Asiatique, minorité modèle (Asians, a model minority) in which they talk about Asians being seen as "good immigrants" "exemplary immigrants" and how they're limited regardless of their talents. And this applies to a lot of immigrants, immigrants can be good, but not too good because a "too good" immigrant disturbs, upsets white people. Just listen to the podcast ok you won't regret it! . . . . #bookstagram #thegoodimmigrantusa #bookaddict #bookaholic #bookish #happypubday #books #livres #bookworm

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What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I don’t like classics, yet I have this book.

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

As a Harry Potter fan, I will say the first four volumes of Harry Potter!

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Tata Maïssa Bey, Toni Morrison, and Mohammed Dib (and Min Jin Lee in case somebody doesn’t make it to the party!)

How do you decide what to read next? Is it reviews, word-of-mouth, books by friends, books for research? Does it depend on mood or do you plot in advance?

Depends on everything! On the posts, I see on bookstagram, the reviews I read,  my mood (the last book I read called me, I took a nap, woke up with an urge to read Mirrors by Mahfouz) but I guess most important my choice is based on what I already own.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?

Trump (Or Marine le Pen, French female Trump) so I can make him Muslim, fast Ramadan and go to Tarawih prayer.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

I did me. Make sure you do you.

You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?

Read books.

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I was tagged by @moietmesbouquins & @books.gurll to show some of books I have written by female authors. . 1. Toni Morrison is a must. There is nothing more to say. Song of Solom is my favorite and I'm planning on reading The Bluest Eye for #BlackHistoryMonth. . 2. Edith Wharton is another of my favorite authors. I read The Age of Innocence a few years ago for class and immediately got two of her other works: The House of Mirth and Ethan Frome. . 3. I had to include the book "All the Women in my Family Sing" edited by Deborah Santana. I read this book with @thatothernigeriangirl, you can read my review if you scroll down my feed (spoiler: I loved it!) . 4. I totally fell in love with Zadie Smith and her writing style with White Teeth. I haven't read her other books but White Teeth left a very strong impression on me! . 5. Jane Austen… I have 4 of her books but I only read Pride and Prejudice. I don't know why I got Emma and Sense and Sensibility… I'm not planning on reading them but they're still on my shelves 😅 . 6. Last but not least picture is Elif Shafak. The one and only book I have by her is The Forty Rules of Love recommended by pretty much everybody and one I have very high expectations for! . Not pictured are Min Jin Lee's books, Krys Lee, Maïssa Bey, Harper Lee, Bapsi Sidhwa, Laila Lalami, and Ahlam Mostaghanemi and I'm sure I've forgotten some others female writers and authors! But these are the main ones that constitute my shelves! . Who are your favorite female authors?! And I'm tagging @wocreader @thatothernigeriangirl @sofia_reading @nourstuckinabookstore @literandra_ ! Can't wait to see what you have 😍😍 ! . . . . #bookworm #bookstagram #booklovers #igreads #femaleauthors #bookish #bookaholic #bookaddict

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Would rather sweat mayonnaise or have cheese for saliva?


What is your guilty pleasure Disney movie?

Confession: I don’t watch Disney, never watched a Disney movie so… I don’t have one.

If you were known as a strain of cannabis, what would your name be?

I actually had to google “strain of cannabis” to answer this question and I’ll go with cherry pie because.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, of course!  1, 2, 3 VIVA L’ALGERIE!

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《We are Indians and Native Americans, American Indians and Native American Indians, North American Indians, Natives, NDNs and Ind'ins, Status Indians and Non-Status Indians, First Nations Indians and Indians so Indian we either think about the fact of it every single day or we never think about it at all. We are Urban Indians and Indigenous Indians, Rez Indians and Indians from Mexico and Central and South America. We are Alaskan Native Indians, Native Hawaiians, and European expatriate Indians, Indians from eight different tribes with quarter-blood quantum requirements and so not federally recognized Indian kind of Indians. We are enrolled members of tribes and disenrolled members, ineligible members and tribal council members. We are full-blood, half-breed, quadroon, eights, sixteenths, thirty-seconds. Undoable math. Insignificant remainders.》 . . Allowing myself to include a super long quote because the full review is available on my blog! I initially started writing a review on Instagram but I had quickly reached the caption's limit so it turned into a blog post! So check out my latest blog post (link in bio) and let me know what you think in the comments! Somehow I managed to mention @erins_library in my article, totally unexpected but she brought up a very interesting issue in her stories – missing & murdered Indigenous women – which is an important point in the novel. . . THERE THERE BY TOMMY ORANGE! One of the reasons why I love this long passage quoted above is that it perfectly lists the different types of "Indians" and it shows how diverse and complex being "Indian" can be. The novel explores the different "Indian" identities through different characters, different voices, different perspectives. The novel gives voice to a range of Urban Native Americans and I loved that about it. I mostly read about Native Americans in reservations so that was new and different and contemporary! I obviously have a lot more to say (Blog post😉) but I'll cut it short. It's a 5🌟 book for me & it definitely lives up to the hype! . . . #nativeamericanliterature #indigenousliterature #therethere #tommyorange #bookstagram #bookreview #bookstagramfeatures #bookish #bookworm

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Doesn’t you feel smart already? I love her so much! Follow Assia @shereadsox on Instagram and check out her website. It’s a treasure trove of book recommendations and stimulating reviews.

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