This post is the first installment of a special “Bookstagrammer Interview Series.” Every fortnight you’ll get to meet a bookstagrammer who’s sharing amazing content with all the booklovers, readers, and writers. I shared a 10-question interview form with Vibha yesterday, and she’s enthusiastic to participate in this exercise. I thank her for filling the form with utmost honesty and childlike curiosity.
For those wondering how to participate: I handpicked 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 Vibha Jagun (Instagram: @bibliophilevibha)
Vibha is an educator and French tutor. I don’t remember when I started following her; however, since that day I’ve been mesmerized by her Instagram posts. (I guess it’s during the Black History Month readathon she organized.) Her page is a treat to your eyes, you can go give her a follow and see it for yourself. It’s an unique visual journey that you’ll traverse. Every time she posts a time-lapse video, I wonder what I’m doing on earth. Her posts are largely interactive, they don’t pass judgments on books, and they’re highly engaging.
There are many ways to know a person; however, for this series we’ll restrict our curiosity to knowing what the interviewee is reading and what they feel about books and reading, in as much detail they’d want to share. Below are Vibha’s candid responses to whatever bookish I asked:
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’m Vibha, based and grew up in Mauritius. I attended a Catholic School, one of the Loreto Colleges in Mauritius, where I’ve been taught literature in English and French. I strongly believe that it was one of my French teachers who made me love literature as a subject at first, and then reading. This keen interest in books and literature influenced me to opt Humanities both at high school and at tertiary level where I majored in BA: Joint Humanities (English and French).
Initially, I read mostly fairy tales that my parents used to bring as “loan books” from a bookstore, but the book that I consider to be my first official read would be Bluebeard (French folktale) by Charles Perrault.
One of my earliest and best bookish moments would be Mrs. Eastern, my Chinese-Mauritian literature teacher, reading Bluebeard to us. I was literally able to visualize every action she used to describe. It wasn’t really the story at that time that did the magic, it was she and her ways of narrating it.
2. When did you start your bookstagram account? (A dropdown selection-based question.)
More than two years (<5 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 am personally very fond of taking photos of what I have and what I like. And I like to dedicate this hobby to my books. I do not see myself much as a reviewer of books. Instead, I use the platform to recommend some old favorites, share my views on my current reads and I try to limit the content (excluding the IG stories) only to books and discussions either though my posts or my DM.
4. If you’re a full-time professional, we’d love to know what you do.
I’m an English educator, and I work in one of the government-aided private schools in Mauritius. I am a private French tutor, too.
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 maintain a personal journal in which I do record my rating of the books that I’ve read, but I do not share the rating on bookstagram because I fear my rating influencing another reader’s perspective. Or their expectation from a particular book. I rate my books on the following criteria:
1. Originality of the plot
2. Development of characters
3. Language and writing style
4. Impact of the writing on my own thinking or ideologies
The rating is helpful in the way that it helps other readers have an idea about how certain books have been received by certain readers. But at the same time, we cannot ignore that different readers have different tastes, personal ideologies and different perspectives. What is a mediocre read for one reader can be one of the best reads for someone else.— Vibha Jagun
6. Would you like to share a book (or many) that you loved reading the most?
The God of Small Things is the first book that comes to my mind. It’s one of the books that I think has a good development of each and every character. Among others, it’d be:
a. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
b. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
c. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
d. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (which I read only a few days ago)
e. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
f. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Okay, a last one, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
7. What sort of books do you like? Do you have a certain affinity toward a particular genre?
During the past few years, I’ve always chosen the Classics over any other genres. Now I have a keen interest in Historical fiction and Cultural fiction, and I’ve spent 2019 mostly reading these genres. Books about a certain society, a certain period in time, or a certain culture interest me quite a lot.
Also, I’m experimenting with Fantasy and Science-fiction these days. Something about me… As a reader, as much as a common person, I like to experiment with new authors and new genres first before already setting some templates for myself. For example, I won’t say that I don’t like a particular genre if I haven’t read any books from that genre. I personally don’t read reviews of books that I plan to read sooner or later.
8. Mix up your favorite books’ names and tell us something about yourself.
The Ministry of Auschwitz!
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 outrightly offensive and in no way adding value to the whole piece; and for those parts I don’t consult with the interviewee.