Resh Susan is the book blogger at The Book Satchel, a popular website with exquisite photography. I spoke to Resh about reading multiple books at once, her favorite authors to read, and why she enjoys classic literature.
What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Currently, I am reading The Legends of Khasak by O. V. Vijayan and The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan. I always read more than one book at a time. I don’t think I can ever stick to just one. Reading multiple books helps me remain interested in individual books as well as help me read faster.
Have you always been a reader? What is the first book you remember ever reading? What drew you into reading/why do you read?
I was a reader as a child. My first memory of a book that I read is Little Nell which was an abridged version of the novel by Charles Dickens. I loved movies from the time I was very small. I loved the fact that one actor can play and live so many different roles. In the same way, I think I enjoyed being a part of the lives of the characters in a book while reading and this made me fall in love with books. I didn’t read much during my college years but I got back into the groove soon after.
What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I was someone who could never abandon a book. If the book was a bad one, I would at least turn to the last page and read how it ends. But now I have made peace with the fact that we can’t love every book. Time is too precious to spend on books that don’t touch our heart. I try reading up to half of the book to see if it would spike my interest before giving up.I have made peace with the fact that we can’t love every book. Time is too precious to spend on books that don’t touch our heart. - @thebooksatchel Click To Tweet
How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I start my day reading a few pages of a book. Most of my reading is done in the evenings or at night. I don’t pressure myself to read. So even though I try to read almost every day, there are days when I cannot devote time to reading.
Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I do a lot of reading on the bed, but my favorite is always reading at a table. I think sitting on a chair and reading is the most comfortable position to read a book. Weirdest place? Maybe reading while standing in queues. Once I was reading a physical book while standing in the queue at a government office and invited a few stares.
What makes a good book, in your opinion?
I have also been known to enjoy books that are strong in one of these three and relatively weak in the other areas. So, how good the book is, depends on what the author is trying to convey through a combination of these three things. Good language is what makes me go weak in the knees as a reader.I think good writing, good plot and well-fleshed characters are crucial to a good book. But good language is what makes me go weak in the knees as a reader. Click To Tweet
Who are your favorite authors to read?
I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This year I read Stefan Zweig’s works for the first time, and I think he is a new favorite.
What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?
The Song of the Sun God by Shankari Chandran. It is a wonderful family saga released in 2017, about the political unrest in Sri Lanka and about people fleeing the country and those who decide to stay behind. I think the book was lost in the titles released by bigger publishing houses. I wish more readers picked it up. (Resh reviewed this book here).
E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
I love physical books. The other formats have their merits too. For example, I would take e-books while traveling because they are super light. I listen to audiobooks if I am doing something monotonous as tidying up the house.I listen to audiobooks if I am doing something monotonous as tidying up the house. Click To Tweet
Fiction vs Non-fiction?
I am more of a fiction fan. I read very few non-fiction books over a year, but I am very happy with the ones I have read.
What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
I love it when a book grasps my attention within the first few pages that the book is a good one. Very few books have made me feel that way. When I finish reading a good book, I feel relieved at reading the whole of it. Sometimes I imagine different endings for characters or google about the author.
Do you reread books? Why?
I would love to re-read books. Every year I come across one or two books among the new releases that I would love to visit again. But more often than not, re-reading never happens because of lack of time. I am re-reading Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, which was a book that I enjoyed as a child but have forgotten all about as an adult.
What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
The God of Small things! I have not read another book that has such a strong command over language and imagery as this one. I wish I could experience it all over again.
What was the last great book you read?
I have two — What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Leslie Nneka Arimah and One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg. Leslie’s book was a stunning short story collection, and she is a very talented writer. Greenberg was a delight to read because of the way she presented women and the art of telling stories in a man’s world.
If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I cannot remember any books that I am embarrassed to have read. I believe you should try out different kinds of books so that you can understand your reading tastes. I am embarrassed not to have read The Three Musketeers. I have read an abridged version as a child and re-read it many times since it became a favorite book in those days. But I have not tackled the original book yet. I think I owe myself a chance to read the unabridged book.
How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
I enjoy classic literature. I like getting lost in a period other than the present. It feels nice to explore customs, rituals an etiquettes of a different period.I enjoy classic literature. I like getting lost in a period other than the present. It feels nice to explore customs, rituals an etiquettes of a different period. - @thebooksatchel Click To Tweet
How do you feel about book clubs?
I am not a fan of book clubs because I wouldn’t fit in them. I’m easily distracted, so I don’t think I would enjoy discussing one book for a long time. Another reason is that I don’t like being forced to read a particular title, so there isn’t a point in being part of a book club. However, I have enjoyed having read-alongs on Instagram and book clubs on Instagram and Goodreads. So maybe I am a virtual book club lover.
What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan made me think about the horrors faced by soldiers. Recently, The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clementine Wamariya shocked me with the situation of refugees. The book also made me think how you are never really united with your family members because years of being separate from one another create a huge and irreparable wedge and change you for the better or for worse.
How do you choose books to read?
I am a mood reader, so my choice of books varies according to my day. As for my TBR pile, I read a few pages of a book to see if I would enjoy the writing. This helps me prioritize the books that I would love over the ones I might not enjoy that much.
What books are currently on your to-be-read list?
I have a few Helen Oyeyemi books that I desperately want to get to this year. Gabor Schein’s The Book of Mordecai has been on my radar for a long time, and I have finally got a copy this year. Some new releases on my pile are Red Clocks and Hold.
Resh Susan loves stories, eats words and has an unhealthy obsession with gawking at pictures of food on the internet. She can be found at her second home on Instagram, @thebooksatchel.
Website: The Book Satchel