Meet Mridula Gupta, founder of the book blog, Ecstatic yet Chaotic. She also owns the popular Instagram handle @ecstatic_yet_chaotic. Mridula is a social media manager and content writer. Reading has always been therapeutic for Mridula. Through her book blog and Instagram page, she loves to introduce people to the right kind of books. One of her goals is to start a newsletter through which she wants to introduce people to Indian Literature and make it accessible. Without much ado, let’s hear about Mridula’s journey as a reader.
Salini: Let’s start with your early days. What are your first memories of reading? What was your favorite book as a child?
Mridula: I remember reading books from Indian mythology as a child, but I was never an avid reader. Reading voraciously came later to me, thanks to a friend. So yeah, as a kid I just wanted to be swept off my feet into a fairy-tale world. Now, I am someone who is drawn towards poignant and emotionally devastating books.
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?
Mridula: I guess; the transition was from someone who gushed over books to someone who organized her thoughts into something cohesive. I don’t have a single inspiration because I believe in a collective experience. I just love to absorb everything from around me.
Salini: What’s the book that’s sitting on your reading desk right now? Or is it a stack of books? 😊
Mridula: Definitely a stack of books including Murakami & Toni Morrison. A few review copies too.
Salini: What are your favorite genres? Are you a fiction or nonfiction reviewer, or do you do both?
Mridula: I read across multiple genres but I have a soft spot for historical fiction and adult fantasy. I review both but mostly fiction. I basically pick up whatever I want to read at that moment, and that way, I sometimes read more than five books at a time. Crazy, right?
Salini: Is there any role-model for you when it comes to book reviews/critique?
Mridula: Not really! I find my inspiration from multiple sources, as mentioned earlier. However, I do look up to certain people with similar reading tastes as mine.
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?
Mridula: Paperbacks obviously. But I am not fussy. However, I need some peace and quiet while reading.
Salini: How do you usually rate a book? Do you have any strict set of rules, or does it vary from book to book?
Mridula: I believe each book must be viewed through a separate lens. Sometimes certain facets overrule the faults.
Salini: If you are given a chance to meet a writer, dead or alive, who will that be? And Why?
Mridula: Haruki Murakami and Han Kang. I want to know their way of looking into everyday life, maybe a live version. Because they have the power to turn the ordinary into something beautiful and brilliant.
Salini: Being a book reviewer, you might have come across many indie writers. Is there any new writer who astonished you with their talent?
Mridula: Krishna Udayshankar. She writes Mythological fiction and I am in love with her ideas, vision, and words
Salini: When authors approach you for a review, what information are you expecting from them?
Mridula: A brief summary and a POLITE request.
Salini: Tell us how a reader could benefit from reading your book review? Do you give any specific pointers?
Mridula: I believe in being honest about my opinions, so that’s what you get from my reviews.
Salini: What are the takeaways the writer can gain from your reviews?
Mridula: Anything they feel like. My reviews are not set-in stone neither my opinion, finite.
Salini: On your journey as a book reviewer, what are the challenges you faced? Was it a smooth ride?
Mridula: It certainly wasn’t a smooth ride. I had to learn the right way to review a book. The essential ethics as a reader and the sense of responsibility in putting out my opinion on a public platform.
Salini: What was one of the highest points of your journey as a book reviewer? Any unforgettable experiences?
Mridula: Each experience has been unique and about my journey, every small achievement makes me smile.
Salini: Which is that one book you think every human being should read? And why?
Mridula: When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi. This is the one book I would blindly recommend to someone because it has some wonderful revelations and it gives us nothing but the truth about how fickle life is.
Salini: How do you juggle your day-job and book reviewing? (if you are a part-time reviewer)
Mridula: I am usually a mess half the time. I have no idea how I get stuff done, but well. On some days It’s really difficult to find the time and motivation, but at the end of the day, it’s totally worth it.
Salini: We all like to have a good laugh. Could you please tell me about a book that really made you laugh?
Mridula: Unfortunately, I don’t pick up happy books. I am a sucker for gut-wrenching and dark books.
Mridula: Well, I do write some poetry. But rarely, I haven’t published any because I am still finding the courage. But when It is available, it will definitely be a part of my Blog.
Salini: As a community, do book reviewers have any groups or collaborations? Who is a fellow book reviewer (of your circle) you greatly respect?
Mridula: We do collaborate, especially during buddy reads. I respect Sumaiyya (Sumaiyya.books) a lot, especially with the kind of books she picks and her style of review.
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.
Mridula: Understand the importance of drafts and proofreading. Write down your thoughts and improvise along the way. That applies to all forms of writing.
Mridula’s Social Media Handles:
Mridula’s Review Charges: She usually charges somewhere between 500 to 1000, depending on the deliverables.