Hikaayat is proud to collaborate with Tasnim Morrison, the human behind the Instagram account @reads.and.reveries… Tasnim will be posting regular book reviews on Hikaayat, so we caught up with the London-based bookstagrammer to find out more about one of our content collaborators.
H: So, who is Tasnim? Tell us a bit about yourself.
TM: I’m a twenty-something British-Jamaican Muslim, born in London to parents who became Muslim a few years before I was born, and raised in Norfolk in the East of England. I’m a speech and language therapist by day so I guess the love of words should come as no surprise. Beyond that, you’ll usually find me in one bookshop or another, fighting a losing battle with my burgeoning bookshelves!
H: What inspired you to start a bookstagram?
TM: When I started I had no idea ‘Bookstagram’ was a thing! I was feeling this urge to create something, to have an excuse to put words on a page and something to put my mind to so I decided to create a blog. That very quickly turned into a Bookstagram page when I posted a brief review of a book I had read and people responded to it more than I ever imagined they would. I realised there were people out there who got as much pleasure out of reading and talking about books as I do and it’s just grown from there.
H: Based on the frequency of reviews, it’s clear that you read a lot. Do you have some practical tips on how we can increase reading actual books?
TM: Oh, yes! My biggest tip and the one that has really helped me to increase the amount I read, is to take a book with you everywhere. Literally everywhere. I get most of my reading done on my way to work or waiting for an appointment or just in those unexpected moments of down-time. Secondly, read whatever it is you’re drawn to reading. Go into a bookshop or to the library, just browse the shelves and pick up the books that catch your eye. Thirdly, I don’t force myself to finish a book and I strongly believe you’re under no obligation to do so; if it’s not working for you just move on. You’ll read more if you enjoy what you’re reading so read more of what you enjoy.
H: How do you choose the books you review? Is it random? Is there a method? Or is it pure madness?
TM: At one point I pretty much reviewed every book I read and I still review most of the books I read, however, sometimes it’s just not possible to keep up so there is some method to my madness! If I’ve really enjoyed a book or have strong opinions about it, I’ll usually review it. If I post about a book I’m currently reading or a book I’ve recently acquired and people are really interested in it, I do my best to respond to that.
Additionally, sometimes I’ll receive a book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review so of course I review those but, ultimately, I review the books that have given me the most to think about.
H: Much is made of the decline not only of reading, but of physical books. Do you think books and bookstores are going to disappear anytime soon?
TM: No, quite the opposite! I actually think they’re experiencing a bit of a resurgence and that people are falling back in love with reading and with book-buying generally. I also think that, increasingly, people are looking for books that are more reflective of the world we’re living in and books that educate as well as entertain us. I also think that accessibility is important so the fact that books are increasingly available, as standard, in a range of formats (e-books, audiobooks, physical books etc.) can only be a good thing but publishers are also putting so much more into marketing physical books. Books are being made to look good with beautiful covers, sprayed (coloured) edges, signed editions and the like and I can only imagine the effect that’s having on sales in this very visual age.
When it comes to actual bookstores, I think they continue to face challenges, especially when it can be so much cheaper to buy books online but I don’t think physical books are going anywhere any time soon!
H: Also, I’ve heard that the Bookstagram community is a thing. Are you able to confirm or deny?
TM: I can confirm that it is very much a thing! Here’s where I get uncharacteristically sentimental because I can honestly say that the people who make up the (growing) Bookstagram community are some of the loveliest, most interesting people I’ve come across on the internet and, in some cases, met in real life and there is so much enjoyment in chatting books and life with them.
H: And finally, what about your collaboration with Hikaayat are you most excited about?
TM: There is this shift towards Muslim women telling our own stories; I’m seeing it in books and I’m seeing it in real life and I think that’s so important on so many levels. Muslim women are aware that the way we are often depicted is so unlike the way we actually see ourselves. Hikayaat will hopefully be a space where Muslim women will see themselves reflected in our many forms. We are not one thing- we are out in the world in so many spaces doing so many things, with so many interests and opinions and I’m excited to see the conversations we all have amongst ourselves take place on a more public platform because we have so much to say. For me, books and reading is something I’m passionate about and I know I’m not alone in that so I’m really excited to bring some book-related content to this platform!
5 quick questions:
1) What is the first book you remember reading?
Beating your obvious childhood classics, Noel Streatfield’s ‘Ballet Shoes’ stands out as one of the first books I remember selecting and reading to myself, as does Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’.
2) Which book do you wish you had written?
The one I haven’t written yet.
3) Name three books that changed your life
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
4) What was the last book you bought?
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
5) If your life was turned into a work of fiction, what would its title be?
‘A Learned and Articulate Voice’