diverse book blogger spotlight: the book satchel


1. Who are you and where do you blog? 

Hi, I am Resh. I have a thing for good food and good books. I blog at The Book Satchel which is a place for bookish talk and reviews. I also talk about reading and other things in life on my Instagram.

Blog : http://www.thebooksatchel.com

Instagram : www.instagram.com/thebooksatchel

2. I love the range of books that you feature on your blog – how do you discover new books to read? 

I thoroughly go through the catalogues of my favourite publishers every season. That is my first screening where I will note down the new releases that I might enjoy for the next few months. Later I go through my list again and fine tune the titles. I rely on friends with similar tastes for the rest of the recommendations. Instagram and Twitter have been great in connecting publishers with readers.

3. What do you think about the publishing industry’s current push towards increased diversity?

I feel there is a great shift as well as awareness about the holes in the system when it comes to including diverse books as well as books with believable diverse characters. Social media and opinions of readers has created an impact (however small) because of how social platforms connect readers from different regions and age groups. If a book is wrongly portrayed as a ‘diverse’ one, readers get furious on Twitter. This is an feedback to the publishing industries for what to look for in a diverse read. I think there should be more push for translated literature even now. All said, the percentage of books that steal the limelight from the diverse category are still very small. Often ‘pick a small book set elsewhere (even if it is terrible) and that makes you a diverse book reader’ persists instead of actually finding good books in the diverse category. The Song of the Sun God by Shankari Chandran was a splendid family saga set around the riots of Sri Lanka. I read the book last year and was blown away by it. I felt it did not get the wide recognition that it deserved.

(Link if needed – http://www.thebooksatchel.com/song-sun-god-shankari-chandran/)

There is the sad part of not-so-good books that fall in the diverse category performing better than excellent books (strictly in terms of their circulation worldwide) because of better reach through marketing. Also bigger publishing houses have an advantage of outperforming the releases from a smaller, independent publisher who publishes excellent titles solely because of the money they can invest in marketing.

4. Who are some of your favourite publishing houses, and what makes them so good?

My new favourite publishing house is Tinder Press. Last year I read many titles published by them and they were all fantastic! I fell in love with their titles straight away. Some of my favourite independent publishers are Granta (I always find something ‘new’ in the titles they publish. Fresh and intriguing), Aleph (Simply excellent choice of books along with great cover design. Their Clutch of Indian Masterpieces is one of my all time favourite books), Persephone Books (If not for Persephone I would not have discovered so many forgotten writers. They republish some amazing titles that deserve more audience. Dorothy Whipple, who ended up being a favourite, was a discovery through the Persephone list), Slightly Foxed (They have a brilliant selection of old books in lovely, creamy paper goodness. I also love reading through the Slightly Foxed quarterly. They have some lovely articles for both reflection and enjoyment. I literally jump for joy every time the quarterly drops at my doorstep) and Virago (Virago never fails in publishing excellent women writers. They have such an eclectic back list of titles that I hope to finish someday.

5. If you could publish a perfect book, who/what would it be about?

That would be something set in my state, Kerala. A book that mesmerized me is The God of small things by Arundhati Roy. Arundhati describes everything so beautifully without ‘westernizing’ the whole book. It is raw, dreamy and nostalgic. I don’t know if I would live to see another masterpiece as that book, but if yes, that would be the perfect book that I would love to publish.

6. Do you have any big reading plans for the future?

I want to do a 30 books 30 days challenge one day. One day… It just seems like an interesting thing to see if I would read that much in a month because I always use the phrase “If only we could just read all day”. Time to test that theory. I am not sure if I can complete the challenge (30 in 30 is intimidating!) but I have it at the back of my head.

This was fun. Thanks for having me, Wendy.


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