Featured Blogger: India from Belles Lettres!

Hello everyone! As you probably already know, throughout the month of November I’m shining a spotlight on thirty wonderful book bloggers 😊📚 If you’re not already following them, then I’d definitely recommend that you check them out – these guys are all such wonderful bloggers and all incredibly kind and supportive.

For day 10, we have the wonderful India (from Belles Lettres) who posts wonderful book reviews and also some easy reading bookish content such as hauls and roundups! A perfect combo!

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My name is India. I’m a 23-year-old English Literature graduate turned book blogger at Belles Lettres. I post book reviews every Sunday and then something a little lighter on a Thursday – like a wrap-up, tag or haul. I want my blog to be a place where books can be discussed and friends can be made.

I started my blog when I was in a bad place with my anxiety to try and give me something to focus on and give me purpose. The reason I chose to blog about books is that they have always been my passion. I studied English Literature at university and, since graduating, I have missed reading text after text in quick succession, properly analysing them in depth and discussing my thoughts and feelings with others. My blog means I get to read books of my own choosing while also being able to discuss them with fellow bookworms.

Where did your love of reading come from?

I have been reading for as long as I can remember. My mum actually tells stories of how, when I was very little, I would line my teddies up around me like children in a school and read stories to them (with the book upside down as I couldn’t yet actually read but liked to pretend as I made up my own tales), stopping to tell Jemima to shush or Nelly to “sit nicely”. I’m sure we’ve all had our struggles throughout our lives and reading has always been my favourite form of escapism, a way to get lost in another world where my problems do not exist.

What is your favourite book that you’d recommend to anyone and everyone?

This is by far the most difficult question on this list and I’m sure Hannah knew that when she wrote it… cheeky! I thought for hours on what my favourite book could be and had numerous titles flying through my head. I think this question is every book lover’s worst nightmare. Therefore, I decided to ask myself the question and take the first book that came to mind as my answer. That book is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is one of my favourite authors as each of his books are heartbreaking but important; they explore difficult issues that need to be discussed and force us to think about our own part in the suffering of others. I cried multiple times while reading this tale of female companionship in the face of absolute misery and I recommend everyone reads it.

Which author (dead or alive) would you love to meet and why?

I would absolutely love to meet the wonderful Charlotte Brontë. I’ve been to visit the Brontë house in Haworth with my mum and could have spent hours there, perusing the halls Charlotte walked with her sister and the village she frequented as she created Jane Eyre in that intelligent mind of hers. I’d love to speak to her and find out all about her life, how hard it must have been to live as a woman with intelligence and curiosity in those times. I’d love to commend her for her bravery in writing Jane Eyre in all its feminist glory before such notions were accepted by society. I’d also like to speak to her about Mr Rochester’s first wife – the so-called ‘Mad Woman in the Attic’ – and explain the problems with her illustration of mental illness and I’d be interested to see how she reacted to this – if she’d listen and try to understand, as open-minded as she was about gender, or if she would dispute my thoughts.

What is the most memorable/sentimental book that you’ve read?

The most sentimental book I have read would have to be – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It will forever reserve a special place in my heart as turning that final page meant turning the final page in an important part of my young life. I will always feel extremely lucky to have been part of the Harry Potter generation, reading each book as they were published and having it be a significant part of my childhood. That’s not to say I won’t launch an attack of a Harry Potter nature on my own children and force them to enjoy it as much as I did…

What is your favourite genre to read and your favourite book from it?

If I’m being completely honest, my favourite genre of book is probably a good teen chick-flick but one that addresses important issues too. Whenever I’ve had a long or hard day, all I want to do is curl up with a book that doesn’t take much concentration, that’s written fairly simply and is easy to follow but has an interesting plot. That way, if I’ve had the day from hell where I retreat to bed feeling like it was just a non-day, I can find a sense of achievement in finishing said book in one sitting before going to sleep, happy. I couldn’t whittle it down to one but two of my favourite books of this nature are Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Turtles All the Way Down is a quick and easy read but is filled with important writing about mental health that I am able to relate to, making me feel understood and not alone. While Jenny Han’s text is one that just makes me genuinely happy. It portrays a relatable high school experience and follows an uplifting love story – perfect at the end of a long day.

What are your top tips/tricks for fitting reading around a busy schedule?

I always, always, ALWAYS have a book in my bag and find that the best way to fit reading around a busy schedule is to read on the bus or train if you take public transport – obviously not the best tip if you drive. My top tip, however, would be to end each and every day by reading at least one chapter. By setting yourself that goal, you at least manage to read something every day, even if it’s not very much. It’s also a great way to wind down before bed, especially if you’ve been in front of a screen or device of some kind all day long, as most of us tend to be.

What are you reading now? What have you just finished? Are you enjoying/did you enjoy it?

As I am writing this (at the end of August), I have just finished Love Punked by Nia Lucas and am currently halfway through both Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I adored Love Punked, awarding it five stars after it took me on a rollercoaster of emotions from laughter to tears. You can check out my review hereOutside is my current review text (I usually have a ‘work’ text that I am reading in order to review and a ‘fun’ text that I read at night to switch off before bed); it is the first ARC I have been accepted for by NetGalley and I am really ‘enjoying’ (not sure if we can use that word for this book) it’s dark and compelling story. By the time Hannah publishes this, my review for Outside should also be live on my blog. Finally, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my current ‘fun’ text and it is actually a reread. I’ve read this book before and loved it so when I saw it in a charity shop for £1, I knew I had to own it and read it again. It is another five-star book for me as I find the writing so beautiful, understandable and heartbreaking.

What would you like to change about your reading habits?

I feel I need to start being harsher in my reviewing of texts. I love literature so much that I always want to give books four or five stars and rave about all their good points, ignoring the bad ones. I think I need to start being more honest in my opinions and be brave in my discussion of these. Those reading reviews expect an honest one and I’m sure authors submitting their books for review would prefer it that way too.

If you like the sound of India and all of the bookish things that she posts you can find her over on Twitter and Instagram as well as on her main blog.

I hope you guys are enjoying reading this month’s series of posts as much as I’ve loved organising and collaborating with so many amazing bloggers to create them! 💖 Check back tomorrow for another one! x


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