Sorry for going off the grid for the past two posting days! I was in a bit of a blogging slump and I didn’t feel like starting any blog posts because I didn’t have the time to make them of the usual quality. But I promise I’m finally back on track and will be more active than ever from July. This time I definitely mean it! I was on Twitter this afternoon when I saw Avalinah’s tweet about today being International Blogger Day. I’ve been meaning to talk about the this topic for a while now. Today being a super special day for me personally and after reading this amazing post on Vicky Who Reads, I thought it was finally time to voice my opinions. This is difficult for me to write (which is why the post isn’t essay length) because it is deeply personal and sometimes thinking too much about it can really put a dent in my confidence, but this needs to be said. I hope that someday, somehow, things will change to a degree where none of the things in this post will be valid. But until then, let’s pledge to do better each day, shall we?
Vicky mentions in her post on how there’s a huge emphasis on hardcovers, mostly over on Instagram. But it spills over into other bookish circles as well. The pressure to get the latest releases, that too in hardcover, is immense! I personally prefer to buy hardcovers of books I’ve previously loved because durability is an important factor for me. I know I will return to them again at some point in my life or would just like to support the author and lend it to others so they can enjoy it as well. However, it costs me a fortune to get my hands on a copy. Most need to be imported because paperbacks are printed in majority here in India.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that keeping up with the trends in countries like the US or UK guarantees more views or likes, which in turn leads us to neglect authors from our own countries. I’m sure there are some real gems written by Indian authors that don’t get a ton of hype because they aren’t “in trend” in other parts of the world. Nobody even cares unless a book is selected for some literary prize and that’s unfair because so many good books go unnoticed this way. And we might as well forget about books in our regional language. I recently read a book that was translated to English from my mother tongue and I’m now obsessed with re-reading it in Kannada (a language spoken by natives of the state of Karnataka in India, in case you didn’t know) but I can’t seem to find the original anywhere! It’s really sad to see that a book that came to my attention because a Canadian Booktuber was singing its praise isn’t even readily available in the language the author wrote it in.
In one of my conversations with my Nigerian blogger friend, Etinosa, we were discussing Vicky’s points and talking about how the odds are stacked against international bloggers. We usually can’t receive physical ARCs due to shipping costs and digital ARCs due to copyright issues. If we can’t afford the books right after release date or can’t even get our hands on ARCs, how are we supposed to succeed in an online world where not following a trend is taboo? Not only that, as international bloggers and Bookstagrammers, we are less likely to get views for our posts because we can’t post them at the “optimal time”. We can hardly take part in community events like Twitter chats or attend book festivals due to our geographical location. We are at a disadvantage even before starting out and sometimes this can get very frustrating because it feels like we’re outsiders in a community that is supposedly welcoming and inclusive.
The only way we can overcome this issue is to incorporate diversity in all aspects. While the publishing industry is finally listening to the demands of the readers and putting out more books diverse books, it is also important to remember that influencers can be from all kinds of backgrounds. If your feed is dominated by the popular people in the community, who just happen to mostly be white, it is time to change that. It is important to support creators of colour, creators from the LGBTQIAP+ community, non-binary creators, creators who don’t speak English as their first language, creators who come from different religious and cultural backgrounds. For international book lovers, it is good to remind yourselves that it is completely fine not to follow the current trend because there is more than one path to success. It is perfectly alright to read books in languages no one in your bookish friend circle can speak and perfectly acceptable to buy e-books rather than shiny new hardcovers. Things will remain as they are if we continue to try and blend in with the shadows instead of standing out and being proud of our identities.
As I was discussing with a few of my Indian blogger friends, we all realised that we hardly read literature from our own country and we all wanted to do better. This is how the idea for ‘Indian Lit Readathon’ was born. My co-hosts are Shruti from This is Lit, Charvi from Not Just Fiction and Aditi from Dreamy Reads. None of us are huge influencers or have any experience in organizing a large-scale bookish event online, but we decided that this was too good not to share with all the people out there who would love to join us. This time we decided to keep things simple so that if this caught on, we could increase the scale in subsequent readathons. This will be a 48-hour readathon starting at 12:00 AM on July 7th (Saturday) and ending at 11:59 PM on July 8th (Sunday) IST. The goal of this readathon is to read books by Indian authors but there is no restriction who can participate. Here are some rules we established just to make things clear –
Here is the participant sign-up form if you’re interested [Link].
As it is taking over a span of two days but we wanted to people to challenge themselves, we are expecting participants to read a minimum of 3 books in order to successfully finish the readathon. We have prompts to help you choose books for the readathon, so the goal is to complete at least 3 challenges with the books of your choice. You are free to choose books that count for multiple challenges, with one book allowed to fulfil up to 3 challenges. That way a stack of 3 books can count for a maximum of 9 challenges! Here are the reading challenges for this edition of the readathon –
For any questions, suggestions or concerns, we can be reached at –
Email: indianlitreadathon (at) gmail (dot) com
We hope you can free up your calenders around that time and join us as we celebrate the contribution of India to the literary community. As always, happy reading!
Are you an international blogger? If so, what are some of the challenges that you face on a daily basis? Are you looking forward to the readathon? Let me know in the comments section below.