Jas Being Jas – Book Blogger Interview
It’s the third Book Blogger interview and this time it’s with Jas! She’s a super sweet person that has been really awesome for the process for this. In fact she is the one that suggested that I offer for the bloggers to do a guest post for their second week on their feature. I’m excited for you to read her interview and learn more about her. So let’s dive in!
1. How do you choose the books that you read?
I have so many TBR lists, and such large ones that I’ve actually started purging and tried being honest with myself about what I want to read versus what I think I should read because it’s a classic or a must read. The list is still pretty overwhelming though, so usually it comes down to one of three things. It could be a book club pick, or it could be something that lines up with the month! For Pride month I read Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars. I tried to read poets I hadn’t read before for National Poetry Month. And third, I have this jar at home which has little pieces of paper that say the names of books I have on my bookshelf, and I try to pick from there and read the many books I have piling up. That jar is also how my first book club started picking our next book! We all wrote down our suggestions, shake up the jar, and that would be our next read.
2. Do you have a favorite genre?
I have a lot of genres that I like, and which one I read probably just depends on my mood. But I can tell you which ones I don’t like. Thrillers usually give me anxiety, but I will occasionally give them a shot anyways. I don’t like self help books or career oriented books. Many of them are longer than they need to be, given the value that they actually provide. But I think a lot of people feel the need to read them to show they are investing in their careers. I also find it ironic that with so many of them being about getting ahead in your career, doing your best work, or living your best life, that they’re still incredibly inefficient in getting their message across. Basically, life is too short to read books about career choices or leadership from people who probably just like the sound of their own voice. Honestly, if you can summarize your book in a 10 minute Ted Talk, I probably don’t need 25 chapters to understand what you’re saying. (I know this is a strong opinion, but I said what I said!)What was the reason you started your blog?
3.What was the reason you started your blog?
I always had this goal of having a positive online presence. You can see it on my Instagram more than my Twitter, which tends to get depressing with the daily news reports. But I read that people with depression tend to post more black and white pictures. I really wanted to have an account that was cheerful and positive. I guess I thought that if I could add a little color to someone’s timeline as they’re scrolling, maybe it would be contagious. But I also read a lot about how social media creates this envy and resentment, with people wondering, why can’t my life look like that. So I had thought about ways that I could help people live that life. I started by doing my own little cooking show on my Instagram stories, thinking people comment on my food pictures, I could show them how to make these things for themselves! Rather than create envy, empower people to create the life they want. Then a friend of mine gave me some totally unexpected encouragement, and suddenly I thought, maybe I do have things to share. Maybe I can add value. So I was, ‘feeling froggy,’ as my friend Frank says, and jumped! I started my blog this past March.
4.Are there any books that you feel represent your heritage?
There are definitely more now than when I was growing up and it’s so exciting to see. I’m Punjabi, and grew up in a town where there were very few Indians, let alone other Punjabis, and even now whenever I see a Punjabi author on the bookshelves I feel a sense of excitement. I haven’t been able to read very many, but I’m always on the look out, not just for Punjabi stories, but for the stories that historically haven’t been given the platform to be shared with the masses. Just this past weekend, I saw a history book about the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in the new non-fiction section of the library, on display, front and center. I’m not happy about the massacre! But, it just filled me with so much joy, that I took a picture to send my mom, to show her what I was able to check out. There is a whole history that I wasn’t taught because it isn’t mainstream in America, and growing up there was this very immediate pressure to focus on academic success, which meant focusing on the American curriculum. But now, as I’m growing up and feeling like I have more of a say in how I spend my time and what I learn, I’m so grateful for these resources. And I’m so grateful when I go to pick out picture books for my nieces and nephews that I can give them stories where they can see themselves doing incredible things.
5.If you could tell a story, what would it be about?
I’ve only ever had one vision for a book, and that’s my own story. I’m not particularly creative enough to write fiction I don’t think. Or I don’t think I could take on such a huge undertaking. But growing up, the only book I came across that was even close to home was ‘Born Confused’ by Tanuja Desai Hidier. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on the book shelf. This was before Goodreads and before you could find out about books online really. I was just a kid and if it wasn’t on the library shelf, I didn’t know about it. I was so eager to read it once I saw it, but I was so disappointed. I didn’t really like the book and I didn’t really connect with the main character. It was just disappointing, and even now I see other Indian girls gush about that book and I’m not sure if it’s just nostalgia or maybe I just missed something. But that book, and other books I read about Indian girls didn’t quite resonate with me. So I just want to share my experiences and reflections because maybe someone else will feel like it resonates with them, and they can feel, not alone. I also want to share it in a way that isn’t limited to 240 characters. So whenever I feel strongly about something personal, that I want to share, but don’t feel like I have a safe place to share it, I write sort of a mini essay for my sort of memoir.
I do have something in mind for a short story, but I’m still in that phase of initial fear where I don’t think I can do it, or that it’ll be any good.
6.Your blog talks about so many different things, what’s the most important aspect that you enjoy writing about?
I don’t necessarily write about this, but I think the most important aspect that I’m really proud of is that I don’t worry too much about what’s trendy. The books that I’ve written reviews for are not the latest books, they’re the ones that got me thinking about something even bigger, or just brought me joy. With our Year of the Pancake, we’re not looking to create pancakes with whatever superfood is the hot topic this week or the must have smoothie ingredient. We’re trying out flavors that we think we would enjoy and just having fun being creative in the kitchen. I feel like I’m being genuine with my posts, and I think that’s super important especially since I don’t want to be the coolest blogger or the trendiest. I want to be the blogger that makes people feel like these small joys in life are attainable, and not just for that jet setting influencer that keeps popping up on your Instagram.
7.Is there anything else you would like to add to your blog that you don’t have now?
There is! And I will be adding it this September, so stay tuned ;]
8.How do you decide on a topic for each post?
A lot of times it’s just what I have on my mind and want to share with others. Often with book reviews, if there’s an opportunity that I think can help build empathy and understanding, I am more pressed to write a full review rather than include a book in a group listing. I have one going for a Summer Reading Round Up, but I’ve also written posts specifically for Fierce Femmes, as well as Hillbilly Elegy, and America’s First Daughter, because those were books that got me thinking about things that may not have even been the main point of the book. And I like exploring that tangent a little bit as part of my book review.
9.Do you find it difficult to balance your home life with blogging?
I do, and especially at first. I work full time so between that, and errands, writing posts, and wanting time to actually do the things, it does take some time management. But I’ve always been a type A person. I thrive on going and going and being busy, especially when it’s things I actually enjoy. Starting this blog has actually helped me be more positive and productive, because I’ve made time for something I enjoy and it’s made me feel energized.
10.What do you want for your blog long term?
I think it’s fun to day dream about where this blog could go. Maybe it’ll connect me to authors. Maybe I’ll get a book deal because I built a following. Maybe I’ll get access to books or products before anyone else because, who doesn’t love free things right? (Actually there are people who don’t like free things, I once posted a giveaway and lost followers.) But I think honestly, if no one showed any interest in what I had to say, if no one ever visited my site again, I would still have this highlight reel. The books that I loved, the places that I visited, and all the pancakes Greg and I came up with during the first year of our marriage, all in one place. So long term, I just want to be happy with the life I have built, and proud of the things I create. And if along the way, I can give someone resources to support the Trans community, the perfect gift for their bookworm friend, or a delicious snack to go with their spooky Halloween read, then that’s a bonus.
Thank you so much Jas for being such a wonderful person, for helping me with this project of mine and for participating! Look for her guest post next week which I think will be awesome and I love that she added pictures to her interview to make it that much more engaging.
Make sure that you say hi here in the comments! Follow her on all the things!
Don’t forget to check out my other interviews and guest post from previous Book Bloggers!