Spotlight Interviews on Something Bookish

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 Tasnim, also known as @Books & Reveries on Instagram and Twitter. I found Tasnim’s page when I was searching on Bookstagram for a bookish twin. A bookish twin is a person with whom you share similar book tastes. I didn’t make that up, it’s a real thing, but I digress.

I love that Tasnim is very adventurous when selecting books to read and when you check out her feed, you’d find a very diverse range of titles. Conversations with her are the best because I always learn something new and she is just a really cool person, you know?

She recently started posting on her IGTV and I strongly suggest you follow her and then Turn On your notifications if you look books, this is one account you NEED to be following and that’s why the spotlight is on her.

 I could go on and on about her but that would take away from this interview, so just read on.

Where did your love of books /reading come from?

I don’t remember a time I didn’t love books and, as a child, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by them. I have very clear memories of learning to read and reading was something that was encouraged in my family, even more so for those of us who clearly loved it.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading?

I gravitate most towards fiction- literary and historical (selectively), short stories, and poetry. I enjoy a good memoir too.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Some writers have a way of depicting feelings and emotions that place you right in the character’s mind and have you feeling what they’re feeling. Whether it’s love, fear, anger, grief- the empath in me is always moved by it. I also really appreciate vivid descriptions of landscape and nature in general. 

What’s the last great book you read?

I’m going to cheat and name two because I think asking for one is outrageous! {She has a point though}

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo and ‘The Shadow King’ by Maaza Mengiste- I loved both.

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

I finally read ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison last year and it was definitely worth the wait.

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When I finished The Bluest Eye I was so completely lost for words that I needed to take some time to just sit with it (10 days to be precise!) … The story centres around a young black girl, Pecola, who prays for the blue eyes of her white classmates because to her those eyes hold the key to her happiness and a place in the world that feels otherwise unattainable. This book contains subject matter that makes for extremely uncomfortable reading; physical abuse, sexual abuse, racism and colourism feature heavily and it is important that you go into this book with an awareness of this. . However, this book’s worth doesn’t lie in how gut-wrenching it is or its ability to break your heart and it certainly doesn’t exist to reduce the black woman’s experience to a series of traumatic events or one of lifelong hardship. It does, however, require the reader to recognise that black girls and women by the very nature of their existence face difficulties that women of other races aren’t subject to; this book illustrates how black girls are forced to grow up far too quickly in order to even attempt to shoulder the demands placed on them and in order to navigate a world where they are still considered less-than. This book was written in 1970, how pitiful it is that it remains so relevant. … The Bluest Eye is the first of Toni Morrison’s novels and, beyond the harrowing nature of the story itself, Toni Morrison’s ability to transmit such depth of human experience through the written word is nothing short of genius. … So, which of Toni Morrison’s novels do you think I should read next? ✨

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

Arabic, without a doubt. Almost every book I’ve read that has been translated from Arabic into English has read so poetically and I can only imagine what an experience it would be to read these works in their original language. Also, on a personal level, the ability to understand Arabic would open up a whole world of knowledge.

Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?

Science fiction & fantasy or romance. I haven’t clicked with SFF properly yet but I know there are some books out there that I’d probably love if  I gave them more of a chance. I could also do with some more romance on my shelves to balance out the heavier books I seem to be drawn to.

What is your policy on book lending?

I will happily lend a book if I’m not heartbroken by the thought of never seeing it again but I have so few books that fall into that category that, generally speaking, it’s a no from me.

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

Paper, 1-2 books at a time (typically different genres), and I read whenever I get a moment, typically during the day. I do like to read right before I go to sleep but I rarely manage more than a few pages.

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

That’s a tough one. ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’, the 12-volume cycle of novels by Anthony Powell comes to mind. They were given to me as a gift and people might be surprised to see that these four chunky books have pride of place on my top shelf, mainly because books written by white men don’t feature that often on my feed.

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

I was recently given a signed copy of ‘Oracabessa’ by Jamaican Poet, Lorna Goodison and it now has a very special place on my shelf.

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

I think I’d go with Bernardine Evaristo, Sonia Sanchez, and Lorna Goodison. Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Mary Oliver would be there too because the rest of us would be (even) better women for having spent some time in their presence and I think they’d bring the banter as well as the home truths. Yes, I cheated. We can pretend they’re two separate dinner parties if it makes you feel better!

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 definitely depends on my mood. Setting TBRs just doesn’t work for me. Sometimes the decision is influenced by specific reading goals but I try to make sure that even those aren’t too restrictive.

I think I’m better than ever at knowing the books that’ll work for me and I’ve learned the hard way that reading a book just because I think I have to won’t allow for the best reading experience.

With that said, there are some people who could make me pick up a book immediately if they raved about it enough.

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

Too many variables and I’m too indecisive. I cannot think of a single person right now.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

My name. If people are to pray over me it’d be useful for them to know where I am. Beyond that, I doubt very much I’ll care.

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?

Nobody tells me what to do and we’ll all get along just fine.

Would rather sweat mayonnaise or have cheese for saliva?

So nasty. Mayonnaise on your clothes is extremely inconvenient but I don’t like cheese enough to want to taste it all the time so I think I’d have to sweat mayonnaise.

What is your guilty pleasure Disney movie?

Beauty and the Beast and I don’t feel guilty about it. Saying that I can’t remember the last time I watched a Disney film.

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

Only you would ask this question!

Petrichor is the name that comes to mind. That smell in the air after the rain just soothes the soul.

And, that’s it, folks! Make sure you follow her on Instagram, okay?

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