“I would much rather prefer to read a book with good content than a famous book with no content,” says Juhi Bansal as she talks to Storiyaan about her various ventures. There is much more to her than bibliophile and avid traveller; she is an artist and an entrepreneur as well. She was a part of 12 art exhibitions across India and has 4 publications to her name.
In a fun chat with Storiyaan Juhi tells us about her various fields of expertise and expresses her immense love of books and how she detours her journeys, just for books.
Questions and answers
As a book reviewer with a large following, could you intimate us with an account of the literary pilgrimages that you have undertaken?
I am a big fan of exploring India. Some of the places I visited include- Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Trivandrum, Kerala; Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab; Srinagar, J&K, India; Cellular Jail, Port Blair, India; Mumbai, India; Universal Studios, Florida. I can proudly say that I have explored all these places, with the insights of various books and am extremely exhilarated for many such endeavours.
An avid reader who has delved deep into the literary world, have you ever suffered from a reader’s block? What according to you is the main cause of it?
Oh Yes, definitely. Every reader/book blogger goes through this phase at least once in his lifetime. The main reason behind this is because of picking books back-to-back. As readers and book lovers, each of us tend to pick books back-to-back. Also, the pressure of meeting yearly reading targets takes a toll. You should go slow and read at your own pace.
Could you tell us about some of your absolute reading Kryptonites and when did you first realise them?
Book Fairs, Books Shops, Author visits are my biggest weakness. If the book fair is within my area, then there is no reason that I would not go. However, if it is not easily accessible, I would still find a way to visit it. For me, they are my safest place. I can spend hours there.
Reading is believed to be an absolutely personal and subjective act. Do you think a review tends to make an aspiring reader of a book sort of biased and clouds his/her opinions?
In my viewpoint, this happens only when you review a book in exchange for money. I started posting the reviews because I love reading and sharing that feeling with other people. Slowly and steadily, as my handle started attracting followers, multiple book clubs approached me to join and review books for them. I was thrilled at this opportunity but realized that book clubs are not for people who cherish or love books. I take my own time with each book, and write about it from my heart.
At what point did you stumble upon the idea of creating your YouTube channel to enable bibliophiles a peek into their possible next reads and what are your future plans for the channel?
I got this idea a few weeks back, and the main reason I wanted to do that was to face my fear of speaking in front of the camera. I have two imperfect videos up right now and plan to upload weekly. I want to talk about the books which are not very famous, but have good content and rekindle the love for them.
While Mandala art relies a lot on geometric patterns, symmetry and neatness, Abstract art is often regarded as a classic representation of chaos. What is the story behind your interest in the art of the two opposite ends of the spectrum?
Let’s start with Abstract Art! As that is what I did first. I have always been attracted to a chaotic non-representational form of art, but I never knew about its origins. As for Mandala art, while looking at some drawings made by someone in the office, I felt a little jealous. I wanted to make something like that and gather praises. I picked up a drawing sheet and a fine liner pen and made detailed patterns within a circle. To my surprise, it came out well, and then there was no looking back.
As a listener, could you tell us some of your fondest and most memorable moments that will remain with you always and how does being a listener give you a purpose?
I have been a very introverted person until I started working in 2011. Unfortunately, I never had any good listeners in my life. Finding 7cups was a happy accident. The portal is free, the listeners are anonymous, and you can vent out and not feel judged. My purpose is to lend an ear to all those who have no one to talk to.