TDA x BookstagramBD Featuring @mistghost1398


F E A T U R E – B O O K S T A G R A M


Sara Kabir


Faeeja Humaira Meem (@mistghost1398), who initially started blogging as an outlet to share her love for reading and cultivate more readers along the way, has turned into one of the popular book reviewers in the community. From representing local bookshops to writing for The Daily Star, Meem’s multiple skills make her content fun and eye-catching. Meem describes her account as:

“Bookstagram is my comfort place where I have made great, supportive friends and I can express my opinions and emotions in my posts without feeling judged. I mostly fangirl about books I read, authors whose writing styles I am head over heels with, tid-bits about my own life for anyone who needs someone to relate to, and other topics and issues that tend to take over my conscience. I run a personal blog (mistghostblog.wordpress.com) on the side where I share my love of reading and other miscellaneous things which I write on the go.”

Her unique sense of humour, in-depth reviews, and stunning edits are sure to draw you in from the start. Check out some of the books that have impacted her on her journey as a reader along with some well-articulated reviews below.

When asked what made Meem get into reading and if she had any memories associated with it, Meem shared her story.

Like most children, Meem’s parents encouraged her to read from an early age — by buying her books by Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, and many more.

The Goosebumps series by author R.L. Stein had the biggest impact on her as a child — that is how she started her journey as an avid reader. She would sneak into the school library, borrow the books, and spend hours reading them at home. The Goosebumps series also sparked her interest into becoming a writer, a passion she has cultivated till this day.

 

Q: Scrolling through your bookstagram, it’s pretty evident that you are into translated fictions, particularly Japanese fiction. Why does Japanese fiction stand out to you?

“I grew up watching a lot of Japanese anime and reading manga, so naturally, I was attracted to the language and culture as well, and that is why I took an interest in Japanese Literature, as literature gives direct insight into its culture’s secrets.”

Meem recommends Haruki Murakami as her favourite Japanese author who has been taking the literary scene by storm in recent years. Out of all his books, she recommends Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage as her favourite. The book left her sad and heartbroken but in the best way possible.

At the age of 20, Tsukuru Tazaki is kicked out of his circle of five friends — three boys and two girls. Each has a colourful name: Red, Blue, White, and Black, except for Tsukuru. It’s representative of the way he thinks about himself: Colourless and nothing to offer to the rest of the group, or even the world.

Another Murakami novel which is hard to pass by is 1Q84. Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is a magic realism dystopia set in 1984, yet it has everything that anyone would want in a book. It is composed of a little of every genre, with a bizarre blend of fantasy, religion, loneliness; then it all comes back to a love story, and everything is connected in subtle ways, and it helps that the translation is perfectly smooth.

 

A lot of times YA fantasy gets trashed for being cliché and overdone. When asked what still make YA novels unique and if she could recommend one such novel, Meem shared her opinions.

Young Adult authors, especially in Fantasy genre, often tend show a lack of patience and self-awareness and they sometimes try to build their stories based on unoriginal premises. The pseudo-gothic aesthetics/images now seem trite because of the sheer volume of novels using this formula. That being said, there are quite a few novels that deviate from this drawback and present some uniqueness.

Meem recommends one of her favourites –  An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It’s a fast-paced high fantasy quartet series set in an alternate universe with a rigid caste system, and the lead protagonists get entangled in an attempt to overthrow the Empire. It also represents South Asian characters as the author herself is of South Asian descent.

 

Q: Why do you love literary fictions? Can you recommend some impactful literary fictions that left a lasting impression on you?

“This is the genre I acquired a high respect for after becoming a student of Literature myself and developed an interest in theme analysis. Literary fiction is known for tackling issues that are often controversial, difficult, or complex. In literary novels, writers want to make sense of the world around them by exploring the human condition, and instead of emphasising on action, they focus on ideas, themes, and the concerns of the book.”

Sally Rooney’s Normal People is a compulsive, psychologically astute love story involving Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron who meet as teens in County Sligo, Ireland. Both are star students, but Marianne is an outcast raised in material wealth and emotional indifference from her widowed mother, a lawyer who deems aggressive behaviour from men acceptable, including her abusive late husband and nasty-tempered son. On the other hand, Connell is of lower-middle-class living way across town with his unwed mother, a wonderful woman who had him in her teens that derailed her education, but nurtured her son very well while working as a cleaning woman for the Sheridans.

Rooney’s focus is on the young adults as they struggle to navigate the tempest of intimacy against the backdrop of issues like class, privilege, passivity, submission, emotional and physical pain, kindness, and depression, as well as an economically uncertain, post-recession world threatened by climate change, political upheaval, and questions about the morality and viability of capitalism.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is told from a young Ghanaian woman Gifty’s perspective, as she takes us into the world of her immigrant family. Gifty, endeavouring towards her PhD in Neuroscience, motivated to succeed due to the racism Gifty and her family faced within the South, tells the story of her family’s ruin – from the terrible bearing of her brother’s war with addiction to her mother’s paralysing attempted suicide. It is a story of grief that questions religion and science in the face of loss and addiction, and as Gifty struggles to find meaning in the seemingly meaningless.

 

Q: Which novel(s) would you recommend to anyone who wants to start reading?

“I feel like readers of any age would love to read novels based on and around Greek Mythology. One of the most popular fantasy series is Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and I believe this is a great starting point for anyone looking for a quick escape through literature.”

The series revolves around Percy Jackson, a demigod. He’s revealed to be the son of Poseidon, the God of the ocean, and Sally, a mortal woman. Percy, along with other demigod friends he made at Camp Half-blood (a camp for demigod kids), they train to fight off mythical monsters, go on missions, all while trying to avoid their grim fate. It’s a great series for people who are fans of long-term story-telling as Rick Riordan expanded the universe to The Heroes of Olympus, Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, and lastly Trials of Apollo, adding new protagonists, but all the while staying true to the original premise and having lots of cameos.

 

Q: Can you recommend a science fiction series you wish more people knew of?

Meem recommends Patrick Ness’ gritty sci-fi trilogy, the Chaos Walking series in a heartbeat. Chaos Walking is basically the story of Todd, who lives in a town that apparently has no girls, and the men living there can hear each and every thought in everyone’s head due to being infected with the Noise germ. However, on his 13th birthday, he and his dog Manchee come upon a place of complete silence. There he encounters Viola, the first girl he has ever met, who has no Noise. Patrick Ness has built this fascinating otherworld inspired by information overload in the modern age. It is brilliant from beginning to end, funny and terribly powerful.

 

Q: And lastly, what’s a short classical novel you have enjoyed recently?

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai portrays the sense of isolation of Oba Yozo, born into a wealthy political family in rural north-eastern Japan, who left behind three notebooks that trace his alienated, terrified, and miserable meandering as he suffers to adapt to the forceful collision between traditional Japanese culture and Western modernisation.

 


Sara Kabir is the quintessential Literature student, always finding joy in her favourite books, shows, songs, and artwork and being able to discuss them with her friends. Find her @scarletfangirl on Instagram to join in the discussion and see which new language she’s attempting to learn this week by watching TV shows and dramas.

 

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