We are happy to annonce a few section on the Untitled Chapters Website which features blogs. To start off we would like to start off this section with an interview with the Asma J behind an Emirati Book Blog by the name A Reading Kabocha! Enjoy
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a 20-something year old bookworm. I love to write on the side, and I’m trying to balance that with work. I live in Abu Dhabi. I studied journalism, but my current work has nothing to do with it, but I can’t see myself anywhere else.
2. Your book Blog, A Reading Kabocha, can you tells us why you called it that and what it’s all about?
I honestly don’t know why I called it that myself. A couple of years ago, my childhood friend was learning Japanese, and she took to calling me Kabocha, meaning pumpkin. At that time, I was also browsing American book blogs, and I was on the verge of creating A Reading Kabocha, but left it as it is. In 2010, when I decided I’d make a blog about books, I found that title still there, and I just went with it.
Right now, it’s all about book reviews, bookish posts, and anything book-related! I actually started the blog in the hopes of encouraging other readers to start blogging about books as well, something equivalent to the American book bloggers– a huge creative and fun group. There’s also a group from the U.K, and Australia, and even Malaysia– it’s something that’s catching on, and I wanted a base here in the UAE or the GCC as well.
3. What sort of books do you review on your blog? Does it focus on a certain genre?
There isn’t a certain genre, it’s basically whatever I’m reading at the time. I think it’s a bookworm thing- when you read a book, be it good or bad, you just have to be vocal about it. So I read anything from romance, YA to even Japanese literature.
4. Why do you think Book Blogs are important? What makes them stand out from other blogs?
It’s a good way to find out from readers themselves what books are worth reading and what aren’t. Ever since I discovered the American book bloggers, I’ve seen the trend of what’s good, what’s bad. It makes the good author– or authors and books in general- visible. I might have skipped reading a bunch if I didn’t read blurbs on line, or some excerpts.
I don’t think there’s anything that’ll make it stand out more than it’s content. I’m not saying book blogs are more important than the rest, but that there should be a niche of it in the UAE/GCC blogosphere. I know a LOT of people who love reading. Well, I think it’s time they shared what they like or enjoyed to their friends and peers.
If anything, I find book blogs more reliable than seeing books on a best-sellers list.
5. How do you rate and recommend books? Is it as per your taste or would you say that a certain book will fit a person with this certain taste in books
I have a rating system on my blog (rating pumpkins!), but that comes after I’ve written my thoughts about the book. A review, in my opinion, does depend on my taste, but I try to balance what I like, and what I think others might like. I focus on writing styles, characters and the plot of the story- if there’s anything I find lacking, I try to be honest about it.
As a writer, I notice the writing style, and I comment on it. Sometimes I call out on the hyper up books (those are A LOT).
For the most part, it’s just a balancing act of trying to be honest, but not too hostile when I don’t like a book.
6. Do you see more readers coming up and doing blogs like the one you have?
Book blogs in the UAE? There’s a Omani book blog that’s started as a group, and I’m told that I was their inspiration, which was both flattering and amazing. Their doing a great job too- http://omanibookmania.blogspot.com/
I know someone who’s picked up a bookish meme: Teaser Tuesday, where the blogger shares two random lines from the current book they’re reading. But unfortunately, I haven’t seen the book blog community I’ve wished for. I opened up my blog to two of my bookworm friends, but that is different than seeing another blog that focuses on books.
I hope to see those blogs though!
7. Where do you see your blog going in the future? Any Plans?
I want to organize so much, but I don’t know where to start! Readathon weekends, book giveaways– these types of things! I’m hoping I can pul that through this year, and inspire readers and bloggers alike. Also, I hope I become some sort of book reference- already a few ask my opinion on what to read and what not to. I’m also influenced by those readers, and I picked up stuff I don’t think I’ve ever thought I would read.
Find the website here
Updates for the website can be found on Asma’s twitter account here
– Untitled Chapters