Meet Aakanksha Jain, a top Indian book reviewer, an author, YouTuber, and Podcaster. Her love for reading books made her quit her job. She has been blogging since 2017 and has worked with more than 200 writers. She firmly believes that a good book can change a life. Recently, she was awarded the Best Book Blogger of 2020 award by Literary Mirror.
Salini: Let’s start with your early days. What are your first memories of reading? What was your favorite book as a child?
Aakanksha: My first memories of reading were Hindi newspapers daily. I also loved reading Bal Bhaskar and Chacha Choudhary. These two were my favorites; I was not into much reading at that time.
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?
Aakanksha: Becoming a book reviewer was never a goal or a dream; it all just happened suddenly. I wanted to do something of my own and found Goodreads online, so I thought I should give it a try, and to be honest, reviewing books made me a voracious reader, not the other way around.
Salini: What’s the book that’s sitting on your reading desk right now? Or is it a stack of books? 😊
Aakanksha: Oh, God! There are so many books on my desk right now, and every day I told myself that soon I’m going to pick this one, but that day never comes, LOL. Mostly I have non-fiction books sitting and waiting for me to pick them.
Salini: What are your favorite genres? Are you a fiction or non-fiction reviewer, or do you do both?
Akanksha: I enjoy reading/reviewing almost all genres, but non-fiction holds a special place in my heart.
Salini: Is there any role-model for you when it comes to book reviews/critique?
Akanksha: Not role-models, but I do have some favorites, and I read their reviews whenever I get time. I learn from them and get some excellent books suggestion all the time.
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?
Aakanksha: My first preference is hardcopies, and I don’t like e-books, but I still read them sometimes, especially if the book is not available in print copies. I don’t have any specific place or time, but I need a pin drop silence while writing or reading. A little bit of noise breaks my flow and makes me angry and irritated.
Salini: How do you usually rate a book? Do you have any strict set of rules, or does it vary from book to book?
Aakanksha: Narrative, writing flow, grammatical errors, synopsis, character growth, the message the author wants to convey, etc. I rate a novel after considering these factors, so yes, I have a strict set of rules, but it doesn’t mean that I thrash someone’s work. I judge a book from its cover-page to content, including the work. My reviews are always detailed, summarising the points where the author needs to work if any.
Salini: If you are given a chance to meet a writer, dead or alive, who will that be? And Why?
Aakanksha: It’s a difficult one, but I think I’ll pick Jules Verne and Chanakya.
Salini: Being a book reviewer, you might have come across many indie writers. Is there any new writer who astonished you with their talent?
Aakanksha: There are a few like Arjun Gupta, his book Sssh! Don’t Talk About Mental Health impressed me significantly. Another one is Anshul Kapoor. If you like 1984 by George Orwell, then Anshul’s book Fosters of Fall will be a perfect fit for you.
Salini: When authors approach you for a review, what information are you expecting from them?
Aakanksha: A brief synopsis of their book with the genre, number of pages, and Amazon or Goodreads book link will suffice. I also advise them to read some of my reviews to get a better understanding of my work.
Salini: Tell us how a reader could benefit from reading your book review? Do you give any specific pointers?
Aakanksha: They will get to know the unbiased views of a book first of all. Second, I never give spoilers, so it will not ruin their experience if they decide to pick that book. Third and most important, every book that I read is not meant for every bookworm; that’s why I talk about who should choose that particular book and who should not.
Salini: Which is that one book you think every human being should read? And why?
Salini: What are the takeaways the writer can gain from your reviews?
Aakanksha: The most crucial takeaway a writer can gain from my review is that they will get constructive criticism on their writing. It’ll help them in the long run.
Salini: On your journey as a book reviewer, what are the challenges you faced? Was it a smooth ride?
Aakanksha: Well, it was filled with confusion and self-doubts at first. With time, I understand that it’s a part of the process and overcome it. But I have to say that I love challenges. It makes me feel alive and helps me to polish my skills.
Salini: What was one of the highest points of your journey as a book reviewer? Any unforgettable experiences?
Aakanksha: There are so many unforgettable experiences; the one I wanted to share is related to me becoming an author. Before becoming a book reviewer, I always had a dream to write a fiction book someday, and last year I fulfill that dream; the only catch is I wrote non-fiction, How to Become an Amazon Influencer. Another highest point of my journey as a book reviewer was when I won the Best Book Blogger 2020 Award.
Salini: How do you juggle your day-job and book reviewing? (if you are a part-time reviewer)
Aakanksha: I quit my job after I decide to become a full-time blogger. But in starting, it was hard to juggle between teaching and blogging.
Salini: We all like to have a good laugh. Could you please tell me about a book that really made you laugh?
Aakanksha: OH!! I need to think hard about this one. One book that I can think of right now is Koi Good News? by Zarreen Khan; it made me laugh.
Salini: Are you strictly a reviewer, or do you write too? If yes, where can we read you? (website links/published articles)
Aakanksha: I’m a writer and reviewer. You can find my writings at my blog – www.bookscharming.com. I also do guest posts, and you can spot their links in the about section of my blog. Apart from this, my book is available on Amazon – How to Become an Amazon Influencer?
Salini: As a community, do book reviewers have any groups or collaborations? Who is a fellow book reviewer (of your circle) you greatly respect?
Aakanksha: Book reviewers do have groups, but they are for Instagram likes and engagement purposes. I do like the work of Khyati (Bookish Fame), Abhilash (Writing Buddha), and Anchal (Libro Review). It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect or appreciate other bloggers’ work. They all have something unique to offer, and every day I get inspired because all of them.
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.
Aakanksha: From a marketing POV, please work on creating a base of followers before launching your book. From a writing POV, work on the editing at least thrice.
Aakanksha‘s Social Media Handles:
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