Bookstagram Tutorial 1 – Questions to ask.

This is the first in hopefully a series of blog post tutorials about bookstagram I’ll do over the coming days/months/years (They will be faster than George RR Martin, I promise)

Over the course of my time on Bookstagram I have learnt a lot of things and have changed the way I think about ‘how to’ bookstagram. There was a time when I thought asking a Question on every days post was lame and I tried to make each posts’ caption interesting enough for people to respond to it. It worked, and sometimes did not.

Right now one of my main suggestions to anyone who asks me for bookstagramming tips is ‘Ask questions in your captions’.

True that a lot of people do not have the time/are not really interested in your caption (Instagram is obviously more about pictures) but a good few could definitely be in the mood for some bookish conversation when they see a book post. At any rate, there will be a few who might read your caption. To increase your probability of engagement on your post, you need to make it easy for them to want to respond. If you ask very specific questions, you narrow down the number of people who can answer it. Say, if you post about The Catcher in the Rye and ask ‘Have you read this book, did you like it?’ Most who haven’t read it will probably not respond except maybe if they have it on their tbr. Ofcourse you can ask the question if you actually specifically want to know but it would be smarter to ask a more inclusive questions like, ‘Have you read it? It’s about a troubled teen and his thoughts, would you want to read it?’ This makes it easier for people to respond and for you to start conversations.

What I’ve noticed is that questions about your followers work best, ask their opinion, ask what they prefer, ask things which are easy to answer. And sometimes, just ask things which aren’t specifically related to books! We know it’s a book blog but everyone’s personality has more dimensions which include non bookish things as well. In a recent post I asked what everyone’s favorite ice cream flavor is and a lot of people responded (who doesn’t wanna talk about ice cream!)

So just to make it a little easy I’m compiling a list of questions you can ask on your Bookstagram caption (I’ll keep adding questions whenever I get ideas):

  • Are you enjoying your Current read?
  • Which country is your current read based in?
  • Do you use proper bookmarks or do you use anything you can find near you?
  • Do you dog ear books?
  • What was your last bookish purchase?
  • When was the last time you got emotional while reading a book?
  • Do you read while traveling?
  • Preference: Paperback or Hardcover?
  • Do you read book reviews before picking up a book?
  • Do you care if an author is a woman or man?
  • Do you read one book or multiple books at the same time?
  • Do you quit reading as soon as you think your CR is not good or do you give it some time?
  • Do you review books immediately after finishing it Or later after you’ve gathered your thoughts?
  • Are you a fast or slow reader?
  • What’s your favorite fictional world?
  • What’s your favorite trilogy?
  • You prefer: Classics or Contemporary?
  • Is yours a reader family?
  • Do you know anyone personally on bookstagram?
  • What language apart from English would youblove to be able to read?
  • Is English your mother tongue?
  • Do you prefer to read early in the morning or late at night?
  • Do you read whenever you get time or do you need proper free time to read?
  • Do you have a specific reading spot or do you read anywhere and everywhere?

 

List will be continued, please send question suggestions in the comments Or via tweets to @theGwiththeB 🙂

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Book Review – The Travelling Cat Chronicles.

Special Thanks to @penguinukbooks for sending me this masterpiece for review!

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There are some books which you finish reading and think to yourself, ‘this will make a good reread a few years from now’.

And then you have The Travelling Cat Chronicles, you finish it and the first thing you want to do is start reading it again, right away.

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#theguywiththebookreview presents The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

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I swear I was thinking of ending my review right there, kind of a ’nuff said moment, but I guess my mini reviews would turn into micro reviews and Nana the Cat wouldn’t like that.

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This is probably only the 4th book I’ve marked as a 5 star read so that tells you a lot about my feelings towards it. This books is absolute perfection and the way it’s told is cute yet bizarre.

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Nana the cat is on a journey with his owner who is looking for someone to take care of him. And Nana is super sassy and has a lot to say.

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That’s the basic premise of the book and it’s amazing what the author has achieved with such a simple plot line.

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What to expect:

▪️Brilliant writing, the translator is Philip Gabrielle who Murakami trusts with his books.

▪️An extraordinary POV through Nana the Cat.

▪️A kind of nostalgia created between the characters which get you involved in them quite magically.

▪️A sweet little trip through Japan which adds plenty of character to the story and the book.

▪️Goosebumps especially towards the end of the book.

▪️And I have to say it gave me the feels!

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What not to expect:

▫️Not being moved by the ending, it’s just perfect!

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This will be out on 2nd November, mark your calendars!

Cyber Bullying: A Bookstagram story.

Hello blogosphere? (That’s what this is, right 🤔)
So I’m coming out of my little shell and back to the Blog about something that’s happened yesterday 8th July 2017 with me on Twitter/Instagram.

So here’s what happened.

1- I tweeted a thread about how this new generation…oh well..here are the screenshots:


Basically that is my opinion after watching the way most young adults and teens deal with things these days. They are either triggered or want to become warriors for social justice with their tweets while they lay in the comfort of their homes.
And well, a few people agreed, and no one actively disagreed via any replies on the thread at the time of these screenshots (3 hours from my thread). (I have a small twitter account 350 followers so I didn’t expect any one to even notice them) Tw@theGwiththeB
2- A person (We’ll call them Person A) on IG who has about 40k followers posted a screenshot in support of my tweets and recommended their followers to check out the tweet thread.


3- Another person (Person B) who apparently is a friend of PA went on a bullying spree on their IGstories with about 35k followers. Screenshots (without their handle) as follows:



On their trigger journey they got further triggered by maybe an open to discussion account Lighthouse. As you might notice, they didn’t reach out to me and have a discussion, instead they posted on their IGstories including my Twitter handle which also includes my IG handle (theguywiththebook) I have about 23k on IG and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of mutual followers. (I was informed about PB’s IGstories from one of our mutual followers.)

4- I sent a message to PB on their IG as follows:

As expected this New generation Millennial didn’t respond. They just want to get triggered without having the capacity to face a differing opinion but yeah they do want to change the world. Bravo!
5- Later, Person C got involved and replied to me with a thread and we had a very decent discussion. Non Sarcastic Bravo!
6- Then I found out that PB unfollowed PA for obvious reasons i.e. supporting my POV and another ‘big’ account unfollowed PA as well. Bookstagram friendships for the win! 🙌🏼

Why am I sharing this here? Mainly because I can’t help but think if any opinion was shared by a much younger person, say a teen or a Young Adult and then this PB tried to bully them in front of 35k people, their reaction would be pretty different. They wouldn’t be calm and wouldn’t have laughed so much at this immature behavior. They would’ve been depressed at this type of stunt to shame and bully them in front of this community we have all come to love, Bookstagram. Such people bring no positivity with their one track ‘oh I am so nice and righteous’ character.

They have no empathy towards anyone, and fact is, if they didn’t have an audience they wouldn’t even be thinking of these things. That’s the reason the screenshots were exported over to Instagram instead of their small twitter account. They just wanted a pat on the back for being furious over things.

Honestly, it was hilarious how with every IG stories PB was proving my point all along. And I can’t fathom how any of this was making them look even remotely sane!

Another example of how not to make a fool of yourself:


Lastly, I want to thank everyone who sent me screenshots informing me about this on IG, stay safe out there, this shiny little world has a lot dark spots.

Remember, if you want to change the world, learn to listen. It’s a diverse world and your opinion doesn’t necessarily fit fit everyone else’s.

Feel free to voice your opinion and if you want to talk to me directly, my Instagram DM’s are open for all – @theguywiththebook

Thanks,

Faroukh

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saturday, 8th July, 2017.

Dasvidania.

A few months ago I started to write, It seemed to me I had a lot of ideas. Enough to write a book.

And, well, as expected I wrote a few words and just couldn’t get back to it. Maybe the problem is that I would always think about what to write next without my laptop in front of me, Or well, I just didn’t know what to do with the character I ‘created’.

Well, I’m sharing the first 1000 odd words here, maybe that will push me to write further…

Thanks a lot!

Faroukh

– From my Miserable Office Desk, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

15th February, 09:17am.

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Here it is, I’ve named it Dasvidania. (Good Bye in Russian)

Chapter 1: Dasvidania

 

‘dasvidania’ she replied.

‘Dasvidania.’ Anton typed.

 

For a split second it annoyed him why the d wasn’t a D.

They called him Uncle OCD in school a long time ago. He doesn’t remember their names, friends.

‘You should have a lot of friends, but only one whom you truly open up to’ his grandfather had said.

She was it.

 

With a dimly lit lamp by his side, he sat. Throughout the nights, occasionally during the days. He had come here for a reason…it was getting blurred now…

Shaheen Bagh wasn’t a place where you could think without getting disturbed any time of the day. Trucks rolling with their musical horns, almost as a message to everyone sleeping, “Get up you sleepy suckers, we’re not going to work alone right now”

 

He didn’t mind, he’ll just make one of the drivers die in an accident in a small layer of his story. Anton had been like that, silent all his life. Words-written were more powerful to him than words-said. Never participated in debates, never held his hand up when someone asked a question. Never gave his opinion; not for free anyway.

 

They thought he wants to stay in India, carefully careless India, so that it might squeeze a drop of creativity from within him. That’s what he had wrote to them.

All he really wanted was to be away from familiarity.

 

Four weeks down the line, still confused, still still. Anton decided to let it go. With New Delhi seeming to be at a cross roads of sorts with ‘Paanch Saal Kejriwal’ and ‘Abki baar, Modi Sarkar’, Anton mused how everything here seemed to be more about personality than content.

 

Kejriwal: the underdog with nothing to show for except a 49 day stint as Chief Minister of Delhi after which he quit.

 

Modi: the prime minister of India, the King of the brown people, the saffron people.

 

He dialed Ram Kumar and 20 minutes later his loyal new friend waited in the black and yellow Ambassador downstairs.

‘Good night sir!’

‘Good night Ramu!?’

‘Sir, its night right now: 2am!’ his lips curved on the right side

‘Hah Ramu! Drive me to Connaught Place. We have time, no rush’

 

Apollo, Mathura road, NFC; confused names in a seemingly more confused city. They passed a dozen more such areas and buildings and slipped into Bara Khamba road. 12 towers.

 

‘You need anything sir? You’ll either get beer or tea at this time. Oh, and street food; paranthas maybe’

‘You’re a good man Ramu. I don’t need anything, I just want to see if this city can really stay still for a while.’

‘Good man? Thanks Sir, but good man always has stuff to do, the bad man is the one always smoking and drinking. So do you want me to take you some place?’

‘Ok, take me to Pallika and let’s sit on the grass for a while. And get me a vodka if you can’

‘I come prepared Antun sir. I didn’t work at the embassy for nothing! Cold box and 2 bottles in the trunk’, Ramu winked.

‘Anton.’ he said with a smirk.

 

He never liked giving up too much detail, Anton, the writer who didn’t look like one. “What good is a book, if you have to describe every single thing you want the reader to feel? Let him be the judge, let his mind chose a cover for your book.” – Wise words from a wise old man, Master Chekov. And so Anton’s first book was a plain white, hard bound, 263 page novel. Very small text written on the bottom right side, in words ‘Two hundred and sixty three’: Master Chekov had that effect on him.

 

“Welcome, my boy! Welcome to the most distinguished and most ridiculed career an engineer could have chosen…!” roared Chekov.

“And how many Roman engineers do you know, master Check?” Anton’s face stood inanimate except for a curve that so often comes on the face of people following their chosen path.

“Aren’t we smart? Mr. ‘author’ Antonio la fabulosa!”

“Aaah, we are what we don’t think we are!” said Anton hugging his master.

A drop of human emotion falling on both their shoulders…

“You need to stop doing that, you know? ‘Italian’ coming out of Russian lips, the only thing Russian lips are good at is Vodka, Master Check”

A sad “Ha-Ha” said the Master.

 

“Saaaheb! Saaaheb!”

“Ya Ramu…?”

“You never reply to Sir, Saaheb.”

“Sorry, i drifted off, was thinking about someone with whom I sometimes celebrated with a drink. Ummm, did you get it?”

“Yes, i found a guy who talked to a student from Ladakh, i have it in the car”

“Thanks…”

Anton was dropped home at 5 in the morning, a small brown envelope with a slight bulge, resting in his jacket pocket.

He goes in, sits on his Bamboo sofa, and passes it from one set of fingers to the other without looking. ‘This should have the answers’

 

Thud!!

Anton was half asleep when he woke up to the sound of the day’s newspaper hitting his third floor balcony door. Every single morning the news came flying to him, sharp 5:35. It amused him, the talent of the newspaper boy, if only the Olympics had a medal for this sport. India would have a guaranteed gold every 4 years.

He sprinted to un-string the baton shaped newspaper and take a quick peek, “Shahid!!”

“Tomaarow Uncle, promise!” he answered with all the strength possible in a 13 year old boy who’s cycling without sitting on the spring seat. Slightly losing balance but he grips the U-shaped handle firmly and gets back on track.

‘Anton…’ he sighs…

 

‘Anton Zolnerowich!’ the Nurse had written, the only thing that proved Anton had a father was written two blanks above his…’Maksim Zolnerowich’

‘Dasvidaniya’ she had replied.

‘Dasvidaniya’ he had whispered.

Lisya Zolnerowich was a simple woman by Russian standards. Vodka was not staple for her.

Belief was something that she believed in, and she saw the irony in that.

——–

That’s it.

 

 

Unbeknown, Unbeknownst.

Did you know these words?

I didn’t and weirdly I don’t recall ever reading or hearing them either.

I love the sound of them and the usage too.

Google came up with:

without the knowledge of (someone).

“unbeknown to me, she made some inquiries”

So, unbeknown to me, unbeknown had always been an unbeknownst word to me.

The beauty of language.

Funny thing is, auto-correct is red underwaving the word ‘unbeknown’ here, seems like it is unbeknownst to it as well.

Is there any word that you were unaware of?

Do you have a favorite word?

If not, it might just be unbeknownst to you right now.

– Faroukh

Office desk again, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 14th February 2016.

A picture I took over the weekend.

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Period.

8:13am, Office Desk, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I have no clue what this post is going to end up being about but I do know that in some time you’ll find out what route it’s taking because you guys are smart and don’t need me to tell you exactly what I want to say or write or express and that is an interesting thing since being smart is very subjective and you can never say if some one really is smart because you could be very smart in some things but you can definitely be stupid when it comes to other things, like a very smart person might not know how to tie shoe laces which for an apparently ‘dumb’ person might be the easiest thing to do which he can do with his eyes closed while he thinks about a dozen different things which do not relate to any thing even remotely concerned with tying shoe laces or shoes or feet and can keep thinking while near perfectly tying up the laces because he has been doing it for so long and its the most simple thing to him and doesn’t require him constantly focusing on the act itself, like when you first try your hands at stick shift driving or playing guitar and cant stop constantly trying to focus on both hands and the trick for me here to do this successfully is not to think of the end product and I shouldn’t ask any questions, otherwise the whole thing goes south on me and I’ll need to stop and click the publish button which will post this but I have decided to keep writing and adding useless information in this post throughout the day in the office today and I’ll post it at around Lunch time which is about 5 hours from now and by then God knows where this might take us and that is what I want to find out because curiosity could become a stubborn thing very quick and when you have an idea and don’t implement or apply it, you can’t rest easy and have to do something about it and so, when last night laying on my bed ready to dose off, this stupid, stubborn idea crept up (and obviously it stayed their patiently waiting for me to wake up this morning so it could bug me like an oil stain on my tie which wont go off and I have no other option but to get it dry cleaned OR throw it away, else it becomes useless as a tie) I decided to turn my attention towards the blog and start typing one word at a time which was the only way I thought I might get rid of this idea but I don’t think it’s doing a good job of getting rid of this idea and I can see myself wanting to go deeper and deeper and its 11:01am and I’m shuffling between office work and this and a few miscellaneous things that I keep myself ‘busy’ with during the day which includes having the occasional snack that I had promised myself not to after I started running at the gym which is sad because there are some things I cant get myself to do although I can be very systematic and headstrong about a lot of other things like waking up in the morning is something which I can if I really want or if I want to run for an hour without a break, I could do that but snacks are my Achilles heel and I have these moments of monumental weakness when I just cant handle it and just have to have something not-so-healthy to eat like a Snickers Bar or an Ice Lolly or those opaque, brightly colored Jelly beans and I am the worst with Potato Chips (Esp. Pringles) which I can have a full large pack of over a movie which is annoying since you keep munching and hearing the crunch instead of the dialogues which are more important than snacks at that time but that’s exactly why I’m saying how bad I am with chips and it’s so annoyingly blissful and I don’t care if I miss a few dialogues but I think I will need to fix this if I want my fitness to be at its peak again and the good thing is that since I read more now, I don’t unnecessarily munch since I don’t want to get stains on the pages with my greasy fingers and make them look gross and so I have coffee instead but the problem with that is I spill it on the pages which I have done on many occasions on my sisters books which she probably didn’t know until now but confessing about it here seems to have lifted the guilt since she loves her books and could get very irate if people don’t respect her books the way she wants them to be respected and could even stop talking to you for a minute or a couple of hours if that happens like she did when by mistake I tore a small bit from one of her Hard Cover Murakami’s (Colorless Tsukuru) and she couldn’t believe I could be so careless with her book and basically what happened is she kind of put a ban on me from taking her books to read which sucks because I love to read whenever I can and specially during the weekends when I can relax with a book and some good coffee in the Balcony for hours until the weather is good enough to sit outside, which is, maybe another 3 months here after which the heat wouldn’t be kind enough to let me sit for more than 10-15 minutes and anyway I don’t want to be irritable while I read and try to enjoy my weekend because I can really be very annoying somtimes, don’t you think?

2:21 pm, Still on my desk, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

PS: I’ll be posting this picture next on My Bookstagram

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The Perfect Picture.

When I started posting book pictures on My Bookstagram, I used my cell phone.

They were not ‘pretty’ pictures, the kind you will see most accounts posting, just normal random pictures without any special attention to detail. A month or so later, after seeing so many pictures of books in varying styles and themes and so forth, I got a better idea about how to setup and click.

I normally don’t over-‘setup’ my posts and prefer to take them in day light.

Here are some:

 

A few random ideas I have about Pictures and Bookstagram:

Camera – This is obvious, so no use wasting time on this. But there is a catch which I’ll try to explain a few scrolls down.*** I use only my Blackberry Passport Camera to take pictures. I have a Nikon, which for me is too much work: Take pictures, transfer to phone and post.

Theme – I do not have a theme. I can’t for the life of me make myself repeat a certain pattern and bind myself to a certain type of pictures. Bravo to those who are able to. Maybe its the ease of knowing that a certain type of picture ‘works’?

Books – No matter how nice a picture you have, people approving it (double tapping) as a good picture also hugely depends on the book you have posted. If you post an Autobiography (Not popular on Bookstagram) then you can expect a lot of people not double tapping it. And if you post a shitty Harry Potter picture, you’ll still get a few approvals, but of course not as much. Pictures of paper, naturally have no such problems. They are seen as ‘books’ only. So you can expect very good response to them.

***Awww, so pretty! – One thing I have realized over time, which I know may not be true for everyone. But this is my Blog, and i can say whatever I want to (No, really, that’s true) I can even mis-spell Bannanas. So my 2 cents about pretty pictures:

 The prettier the picture, the farther the poster.

When I see a really nice picture, I might double tap and leave. I don’t usually comment. This is not something I do consciously, but I found that I did.

Imperfect pictures make perfect conversation starters.

People look more approachable.

“Hey! Look at that, another one like ‘me’ who takes normal pictures. I shall give it a heart and maybe say Hello!”

And I always wanted to be an approachable person. That was the one thing I absolutely did not want to compromise on. I might compromise on the quality of my picture but I will almost always be involved in the posts. People take out the time to comment and show their support in a way, so its only fair to reply…Except if you have a huge account, then you obviously cannot reply to every single one who comments.

So, Try to never ignore anyone. Unless, its an F4F or L4L or S4S.

But, What made me decide to write all the above?

This:

I posted a really nice picture, I think. It didn’t get the kind of response i thought it might get. Here it is:

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So, what went wrong?

You can’t get better lighting than that.

The book looks good, with an interesting shadow and the background is pretty natural.

But things went south.

Maybe people didn’t really notice the book?

Maybe the sculpture didn’t make sense and seemed ugly to many?

Maybe i shouldn’t have posted a sculpture on a Book account?

I don’t know what happened, it happened.

Which leads me to think, there might not be any formula to your pictures.

Buggers

PS: I feel so vain typing ‘I, I, I…”

Office Desk 04:22pm, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.