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 @Ilhamreads. I started following Ilham long before I transitioned my Instagram into a Bookstagram one. When she published a review, I remember going, “man, I wish I could put my bookish thoughts in one sensible format like her.“
She doesn’t know this but her account was among the greats who inspired behind my transition. Asides, her Instagram, she also writes for numerous publications, about books of course. You can find them here. I don’t know how she finds the time to read for pleasure, study for a PHD, raise the most adorable baby in the world and still live!
I’ll stop gushing now. In this interview, Ilham shares her reading life with me. Enjoy.
Where did your love of books /reading come from?
I wish I could say I’ve been devouring books since the age of two like a lot of people on these platforms, but I’m afraid that wouldn’t be true. I didn’t read much as a child because I never quite found things I liked or related to (hello representation!). My love of reading was ignited as a teenager on our annual holidays back home in Morocco when a family friend unexpectedly gave me his used copy of Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’. I loved it and I’ve been reading ever since.
Which genres do you especially enjoy reading?
Definitely literary fiction and plays, more specifically postcolonial and African American fiction. I also never used to read non-fiction but I fell in love with the genre when I read ‘The Good Immigrant’ a couple of years back.
What moves you most in a work of literature?
Pain, suffering, trauma.
What’s the last great book you read?
Hmmm. ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ and ‘The Nickel Boys’. Both reviews coming soon!
Is there a classic book you never got around to reading until recently?
Yes! Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’. Picked it up because of the upcoming movie with two of my fave white girls, Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan.
If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
I wish I could properly read Arabic. I can read the language but I don’t understand everything, let alone sit down and read a whole book.
Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
What is your policy on book lending?
I try to avoid it because I never get my books back and it annoys the hell out of me, but sometimes I find myself in situations where I can’t say no. Don’t ever ask me to lend you a book, wait until I offer to lend it to you!
How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or simultaneously? Morning or night?
All of the above. I recently acquired a Kindle and it is changing my reading game! I feel like it makes reading easier, I’m not sure what makes it so practical but I’ve been reading a lot more since I got it. Nothing beats physical copies of course, and I am unfortunately the worst book hoarder (I used to be much worse though!) I can read anywhere but my favourite reading set up would be either curled up in my sofa at night time or comfortably seated in a coffee shop with a fresh iced tea.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
Maybe some boring French classics and some business stuff (not mine)
What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
The Dishoom Cookbook!!
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon and Bernardine Evaristo. Can you imagine the gorgeous conversations??
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?
It’s always via Instagram: friends’ reviews, new hyped releases. Unless it’s for my PhD research I only read depending on my mood. I rarely ever plan my reading hence the lack of monthly TBR’s on my page. I just came out of an African American & Black British mood, and now I seem to be entering a classics mood, which I haven’t had in years!
If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
It’s hard to think of anyone famous that didn’t either first live in misery or poverty or died a miserable death from some silly illness. No, thank you
What do you want your tombstone to say?
Hmmmmm, I’m not sure Muslims have tombstones, do they?
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?
Men do all the cleaning and laundry
Would rather sweat mayonnaise or have cheese for saliva?
Cheese! But only the non-smelly ones. Mozzarella, Parmiggiano, Gouda.
What is your guilty pleasure Disney movie?
If you were known as a strain of cannabis, what would your name be?
I have no idea what you mean
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for interviewing me on here, it’s an honour to be featured on your blog.
To keep up with her book recommendations and reviews, make sure to follow Ilham on Instagram, @ilhamreads.
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