Meet Sarath Babu, the founder of Sarath Babu’s Lifestyle Blog and one of the top book book reviewers of India. He is an MBA and MCA Holder and also a social media marketer. Apart from being an avid reader and reviewer, he is a philatelist and a numismatist. He also loves collecting pens, watches, scale model cars, posters and autographs.
Salini: Let’s start with your early days. What are your first memories of reading? What was your favorite book as a child?
Sarath: I started reading when I was around 7 years or so. It all began with reading a daily regional newspaper. It then transformed to reading books. I must thank my mom who has encouraged me to read more. Since I use to read really fast, we could not afford new books back then, all the time. Hence, I usually bought second hand books. My favourite books by then was Poonthalir and Balamitra(both are Tamil Children magazines)
Salini: How was your transition from a reader to a book reviewer? What was your inspiration to take up this unique role of a book reviewer?
Sarath: It happened all of a sudden. I do not remember my first book review but my first restaurant review. Strange but true. I do not regret this since I get paid for what I would like to do the most.
Salini: What’s the book that’s sitting on your reading desk right now? Or is it a stack of books? 😊
Sarath: Apart from the books I receive for review, I use to buy books from time to time. These are autographed copies of popular authors/personalities. Most of these books were not read by me, till date.
Salini: What are your favorite genres? Are you a fiction or non-fiction reviewer, or do you do both?
Sarath: My favourite genres are Sci-Fi, Crime and Thriller (including Horror). I review both fiction and non-fiction as I do not want to restrict myself to a particular genre.
Salini: Is there any role-model for you when it comes to booking reviews/critique?
Sarath: Not that I could think of.
Salini: Tell me a bit about your reading habits. Which one do you like, eBooks or paperbacks? Do you have any specific reading place/time?
Sarath: I prefer paperback. I would love to hold the physical copy on my hand and love the smell of the book. eBooks are not friendly to eyes, which is my perception. I can read anytime provided I had the mood to read.
Salini: How do you usually rate a book? Do you have any strict set of rules, or does it vary from book to book?
Sarath: My ratings vary from book to book. I am usually not harsh on the authors but if the book is really bad, I would not review the book. I put myself on their(author’s) shoes and also give equal weightage to the readers as well.
Salini: If you are given a chance to meet a writer, dead or alive, who will that be? And Why?
Sarath: It would be my one and only inspiration Shri APJ Abdul Kalam ji. I had the privilege of receiving an appreciation letter from him but never got the opportunity to meet him in person.
Salini: Being a book reviewer, you might have come across many indie writers. Is there any new writer who astonished you with their talent?
Sarath: There were quite a few who impressed me. Though I cannot name all of them, I would like to mention a few which includes Chitrangada Mukherjee, Neeraja Kona, Neerja Malik, Ayushi Raghuvanshi, Vartika Upadhyay to name a few.
Salini: When authors approach you for a review, what information are you expecting from them?
Sarath: The title of the book, genre – to start with.
Salini: Tell us how a reader could benefit from reading your book review? Do you give any specific pointers?
Sarath: Yes. My review would include details as to why one should pick up the book. I would evoke interest in my content and make them to buy the book.
Salini: What are the takeaways the writer can gain from your reviews?
Sarath: If there are any feedback, I would inform the author personally and not put it up on my reviews.
Salini: On your journey as a book reviewer, what are the challenges you faced? Was it a smooth ride?
Sarath: It wasn’t. Challenges were receiving the compensation I seek. Usually it differs from person to person but mostly, I keep a same charge. Though I understand the pain taken by the author to come out with a book, at the same time, I am also spending lot of my time to read the book and most importantly share it on my blog and other social media channels. Hence, I feel sad when the rates are negotiated, especially by the PR agencies.
Salini: What was one of the highest points of your journey as a book reviewer? Any unforgettable experiences?
Sarath: There were quite a few. India’s leading author Mr Ashwin Sanghi knows me well. Mr Christopher Doyle remembered me too when he came for the book launch to Chennai. I have also met few high-profile people. The epitome till date is meeting Shri Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico Industries who had invited me to his Corporate Office for the book launch. He wasn’t the author but Marico Foundation played a major role in bringing out the book.
Salini: Which is that one book you think every human being should read? And why?
Sarath: Wings of Fire by Shri APJ Abdul Kalam. You would get inspired and would be motivated to prove something in your life.
Salini: How do you juggle your day-job and book reviewing? (if you are a part-time reviewer)
Sarath: I am a Social Media Marketer. Book Reviewing is a part of my job.
Salini: We all like to have a good laugh. Could you please tell me about a book that really made you laugh?
Sarath: Yes. There was one which made me to laugh from the beginning till the end. It’s The Three Wise Monkeys by Jeet Gian.
Salini: Are you strictly a reviewer, or do you write too? If yes, where can we read you? (website links/published stories)
Sarath: I have published couple of books on Amazon. They are eBooks. Do search with my pen name “aryansarath” and you would be able to get them on the list.
Salini: As a community, do book reviewers have any groups or collaborations? Who is a fellow book reviewer (of your circle) you greatly respect?
Sarath: There are lot of groups on FB. Even Actor Sonali Bendre Behl has one on FB. Kindly check it. She is very active.
Salini: Please tell me about a common point of improvement you come across in the work of new writers. From a reviewer to a writer, please give me a generic tip to become a better writer.
Sarath: Write what comes in your mind but ensure you have used the right language/words with good sentence formation (if you are not hiring an editor). Ensure you have maintained the momentum from the beginning till the end.
Sarath’s Social Media Handles: