The BookBong Theory— Ishita Biswas

Ishita is a bookstagrammer, blogger and book curator. She hails from the haven for literature lovers and historians, Kolkata. A born storyteller, she is known to her followers on Instagram as the book bong theory!

Read below to learn more about her love for literature!

Interview

Questions and answers

Can you start by telling us how your fascination with reading began?

Well, reading books has been the only thing that I have known since childhood. I have grown up in and around books. My Dad is a voracious reader and is mostly into Bengali literature. I’ve seen my Mum read a lot too. Hemmingway is her fav. Even my grandmother was seen reading Tagore’s works all the time. Naturally, I picked up the habit too. And then there was no looking back.

Talk to us about the genesis of 'thebookbongtheory'.

I have a friend who kept telling me that the captions that I wrote for my personal IG page were hilarious and quirky and that I should write more often and also make a separate writing page. She told me this first back in 2017, but I finally got around to creating that page in 2020.

I have a friend who kept telling me that the captions that I wrote for my personal IG page were hilarious and quirky and that I should write more often and also make a separate writing page. She told me this first back in 2017, but I finally got around to creating that page in 2020.

You recently mentioned in your story that 'Dopehri' is your most favourite book of the year. Can you tell us a few instances where you felt connected to the characters?

Ah, Dopehri! What a beautiful piece of writing by Mr Pankaj Kapur. My grandmother, whom I lost last year was my best friend and confidante. And she was the Amma Bi of our house. We had a household help whom I called Gora Da, who was often at the receiving end of my grandmother’s scorn but was also loved most by her. Gora Da, just like my Dad, called my grandmother, Ma. So, Gora Da was again the Jumman of my house. So believe me when I say this while I was always smiling reading this book, I also felt this strange sense of deja vu reading the interactions of Amma Bi and Jumman. And well yes this book could pretty much be one of my most favourite reads of the year.

When you have to review a copy, how do you process the elements of a story into curating the book?

I think I read purely for the love of reading, but I do have a habit of marking out the portions of the book. Maybe a paragraph that brings a smile to my face or a line that touches my heart so when I am done reading the book, and I want to review it I generally refer back to those marked out portions and put down thoughts on them. That’s it.

How do you set the pace for reading a book?

I don’t set the pace for reading a book. The book does that for me. Honestly, I don’t care for pace. It’s about how much you’re enjoying the book, and that’s what’s important. A fast-paced book does not necessarily have to be better than one which moves slow. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

What are your views on how books change an individual's perspective?

Books can play a massive role in bringing about a change in the perspective of an individual. One of the reasons why we are taught to read, or we are taught literature in schools is for us to experience life through the eyes of others. To learn from others’ mistakes. To teach us that we are not alone. And as we see the world through another person’s perspective, ours tend to change too. Sometimes for the bad but mostly for good. And as each individual starts to look at things differently and positively, the entire society moves to become a better one. So, like I always say— Read a Book!

While reviewing 'The Liberation of Sita', you explained a woman's responsibility to rise. How do you feel men can play a part in this?

I believe men and women are no different except anatomically. Yes, in our society over the ages, women have been suppressed. And if they do feel like they are being bogged down by society even today, it is their primary responsibility to rise. Of course, one can ask for the support of their loved ones. And that loved one could very well be their son or husband or a friend. And these men would support them just like any other woman would support them. Everyone is, after all, capable of giving you the same love and affection.

Where do you get ideas for the photos of your posts? Can you give our reader's a view on how to bookstagram?

I have discovered a new found love for flat lays. I draw a lot of inspiration from my other bookstagram buddies. They are all so brilliant. Some are absolute artists. I am the crazy plant lady with a green thumb so I try to add a dash of green into my photos with my plant babies in them. Hence I read, and then I photograph the books keeping the context of the story in line and just click away. A little bit of editing helps. Still, a lot to learn. That’s how I bookstagram.

Could you tell us about your hobbies, like travelling, gardening, cooking?

I am a huge foodie. As for cooking, sometimes I do enjoy it, not all the time. Travelling, yes. I have travelled a lot, thanks to my partner. He’s a lot more passionate about it, and he has very cleverly roped me into it too. We are both vast GOT fans, so we travelled to Dubrovnik to take the GOT tour in 2018. As for gardening, that would be my favourite. I have a huge garden behind my parents’ place, and I have grown up watching my grandmother garden her heart out. We had a huge mango tree and lime trees in our garden. Now I have my set of plants in my balcony, and I spend a considerable amount of time watering them, talking to them and spending time with them.

Can you talk to us about the art of the book jacket?

Well, book jackets are art. I would someday like to possess one of those with a leather jacket. Also, I am guilty of buying too many books simply because of their beautiful covers. However, these jackets can be very annoying when you’re trying to read the book. So I open them and keep them aside while I read and then put them on again once I am done. Then they look pretty on my shelves.

Quick 5

a. Favourite book genre: Murder Mysteries and Thrillers

b. A movie based on a book that you love: Not a big fan of books being made into movies. However, if I had to choose, I’d say the Harry Potter movies and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (only and only for Johnny Depp)

c. Fictional characters you like: Reginald Jeeves and Sherlock Holmes. Fav Englishmen!

d. E-book or Paperback: Paperback any day

e. A necessary quality for being a book curator: Do it for the love of books. It’s that simple.

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