This post is the third installment of a special “Bookstagrammer Interview Series.” I interview bookstagrammers whose work isn’t limited to hashtags and advance review copies (ACRs). I am looking for people who are sharing amazing, thought-provoking and engaging content. This time, I shared a 10-question interview form with Sharmistha.
For those wondering how to participate: I handpick people of my choosing via Instagram (your fan base matters the “least” to me, please be assured about it). If you’d genuinely like to contribute to this series, then I’ll encourage you to DM or send me your email at @writerly_life; and I’ll send across the interview Google form to you. Hope you love this installment and other interviews.
Meet Sharmistha Jha (Instagram: @reading_between_the_lines_)
1. Tell us something about yourself. Some pointers: a) Where were you born? b) What did you study? c) When did you start reading? d) If you can tell us the first book that you read or the one that piqued your interest? e) Any special bookish memory?
I was born in Kota, Rajasthan. My maternal grandparents lived in the nearby town of Rawatbhata. I grew up in Delhi, where I still live today with my parents and my sister. I have had an odd academic journey. After taking gap years to prepare for medical entrance, and suffering from depression, I decided to pursue my passion for the English language and Humanities.
I took admission at Bharati College, Delhi University (DU) for the B.A Programme (History, Political Science, and English writing as an elective). It might be the best decision that I have ever taken. As a child, I was always ahead of my class in reading the English textbooks, which were full of short stories. Later, my father started buying me Tinkle comics, and children’s edition of Panchatantra and Arabian Nights. But I believe the precise year when I fell in love with reading would be 5th grade when I was allowed to issue books from the school library.
Before I knew it, I was binge reading Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree and Mallory Towers. Soon after, I came across Roald Dahl’s books, and read one book after another till there were no unread books written by Blyton or Dahl in the school library (the collection was not enormous). I felt enchanted by these books, and looking back I consider myself lucky to have found that connection.
With books, I was never alone. I felt at home, at peace. I believed anything could be achieved, and everything was possible. I am grateful for books because they saved me.
I distinctly remember buying a second-hand copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, and reading it when I knew I should have been studying for medical entrance. I remember rediscovering the lost spark of my life between the pages of that book, yet unaware of my appetite for writing and social change. I felt alive. At that moment, my life mattered. And I have never stopped reading thereafter.
2. When did you start your bookstagram account? (A dropdown selection-based question.)
Between one and two years.
3. What sort of content do you upload on your bookstagram? Whatever you’d like to answer, in detail or in a single line, feel free to express.
I like to talk about books. I would not term my posts as book reviews. I share my thoughts about the books I read, and how books make me feel.
4. If you’re a full-time professional, we’d love to know what you do.
I am currently studying in college. I have tutored children in the past, and now I freelance as a content writer, proofreader and/or copywriter, depending on the work opportunity.
5. Do you rate books? If yes, why do you think books should be rated? If no, what’s your politics or rationale behind it?
I do not rate books because I don’t believe a numeric rating does justice to my experience of reading a book. My experience is subjective. There are things that work for a reader, and things that don’t. If I were to rate books, would the rating be relative? And if it were relative, which book would be my standard for a five star, or a 10, whatever against which I would compare other books? But I don’t think the books I read can be compared like that at all. I like to use my words to describe my experience reading the books.
6. Would you like to share a book (or many) that you loved reading the most?
To Kill a Mockingbird, These Hills Called Home, The Bluest Eye, The Color Purple, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Anne of Green Gables, 1984, and The God of Small Things.
7. What sort of books do you like? Do you have a certain affinity toward a particular genre?
I think I tend to like Historical and Political fiction more.
8. Mix up your favorite books’ names and tell us something about yourself.
I tried to attempt this question (I really did), but I could not come up with an answer. I am extremely sorry.
A Note by the Interviewer: I encourage the interviewee to pour their heart out. This is their moment to share what they’ve to say about reading, writing and books, so I don’t edit much, except the style bit. I take a when something is out-rightly offensive and in no way adding value to the whole piece; and for those parts I don’t consult with the interviewee.