Hello, and welcome to Part 6 of my Sunday Morning Book Chats! This week I am very happy to introduce you to one of the loveliest, kindest people I’ve must so far on bookstagram, Minh from @cassandrale179. An Asian international student who is planning on studying law and economics at university, Minh has a gorgeous account where she features loads of classic novels. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The General Questions
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been on bookstagram for, and what you like to do when you’re not reading books, photographing books, or just generally thinking about books.
Hi all 🙂 My name is Minh, and I’m an Asian international student from the United States. I was born in Russia and lived there for two years, then moved back to Vietnam at age two where I lived for 14 years, then studied in Australia for two years, and now I am living for my third year in America. In short, I have been to four continents. English is not my first language so I never read any English novels until the age of 13. However, after picking up a copy of Harry Potter in English, I fell in love with literature and began honing my English skills so that I could read more books to the level where I can now comfortably sail through a tome of Dickens.
I joined bookstagram a year ago and it was an amazing experience. When I don’t do bookstagram, I study. I’m your typical nerd :P. As a freshman who is entering college this fall, I am taking classes on economics, sociology and biology to earn early credits. I also go on Reddit a lot to catch up on the news and interesting topics, doodle when I’m bored, and play virtual stock trading where I can pretend I am a savvy millionaire 🙂
2. How did you discover the bookstagram community, and what made you decide to start your own account?
I was on Instagram for a long time but was not a bookstagrammer. I felt pretty bored of just posting snapshots of my face and food, so one day I decide to delete all my old pictures and just document the books I’ve read instead. I felt it was a more honest reflection of my personality and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in life. I have made so many wonderful friends in this community, particularly Shannon! Indeed, she was so kind to grant me this interview and I am so honored 🙂
3. In all your time on bookstagram, are there any moments in particular that stand out to you or any experiences you’ve had because of bookstagram that you’re particularly grateful for?
One of the best moments I have had was when I was featured on @igreads twice, and my account was exposed to thousands of like-minded people. Isn’t it so great to see your followers bumped up with tons of other amazing individuals who love books just like you? On another occasion, I participated in an international bookstagram cultural exchange and was paired up with another girl from Denmark. I read Danish literature while she read Vietnamese novels and we learned some interesting facts about each other’s countries. It is kinda crazy how 3-4 years ago, most of the people I knew were my family and high school friends, but now I am blessed to know so many people from different walks of lives and to have learned so many amazing things.
A Bit More Specific…
1. Are you the type of person who likes to read multiple books at a time, or do you like to pick up one book and stick with it until you’ve finished it?
I tend to read one book at a time, since I feel like reading multiple books really distorts your experience as the elements of one book slip into another. Reading one book makes me feel more committed to the book I’m reading, and it also makes me more concentrated in the world that I’m invested in.
2. What are you currently reading, and what books are you excited to start reading soon?
Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray. I am also excited to read The Count of Monte Cristo and La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser and Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I am a big fan of classics since I feel they portray the human psyche and social mechanisms more realistically and honestly.
3. On a scale of 1-10, how intimidating is your TBR pile?
Probably a 5 :). The books I’ve read are around 345, and my TBR pile is also around 300 books. I don’t want to add too many books because I want to concentrate on the books I have already added. This has also helped curb my book buying spree because I am determined to finish all the books I have on my shelf first.
4. Who are your go-to authors?
Agatha Christie, Gillian Flynn and Tana French, or as I like to call them, the Queens of detective novels. Strangely, having read Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Marlowe and Thomas Harris, I prefer women who write detective novels to men, since I feel their focus is more psychological than technical. Of course, this is a huge generalization, but I have yet to find a male author I like in regards to detective novels.
5. You’re hosting a tea party and you can invite three famous people, either living or dead. Who do you invite and why?
Ooh, this is a hard question! There are way too many people I want to meet, ranging from Aristotle and Einstein to Catherine de Medici and Hitler. But for a tea party (I can’t imagine Hitler at my tea party), I would probably invite Agatha Christie because I really want to ask her how to write good detective novels. If she was a criminal in real life, her talent would make it very hard for the police to solve her crimes! Another person would probably be the anarchist Emma Goldman. I just read her biography and I totally admire her life and political outlook and the way she handles hardship totally inspire me to face my own. Lastly would be J.K.Rowling, just so I can ask for her signature.
6. Let’s talk about reading slumps: do you get them, and if you do, how do you get yourself out of them?
Reading slumps only happen to me when I am super busy and start to neglect my books to focus on studying. Whenever that occurs, I try my best to complete all the tasks at hand, then make myself a good meal and open a book that I know I will be very interested in, such as a good, short ghost story or something fun and exciting.
7. What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – It is one of those detective novels that blows your mind because it uses a literary technique to cover the true killer.
- Justice by Michael Sandel – A great book if you are interested in moral dilemmas and the different philosophical perspectives that attempt to solve them. The book is very easy to read and makes me question life all the time.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – This is pretty much self-explanatory.
- The Monk by Matthew Lewis – A very underrated Gothic classic book. Most people have heard of Frankenstein and Dracula, but this book totally surpasses them in terms of plot and action and was quite popular back in its day. There is always something going on – murder, magic, secrets – that makes it impossible to put the book down and it has a great, unexpected twist at the end.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wilde: It is long and can be boring at time, but the prose is absolutely gorgeous and it has so many quotable lines.
8. I know how bookstagrammers love a good literary quote, particularly for the captions of their photos, so can you share one of your favorite literary quotes with us?
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J. K. Rowling
Speed Round! What is your favorite…
Movie? 12 Angry Men.
Colors? Black and white.
Reading spot? My bed, or outdoor under the sky and among the flowers.
Ice cream flavor? Chocolate.
Song? Nocturne Op. 48, No. 1 by Chopin
Fictional Character? Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.
Thank you so much for joining us on Sunday Morning Book Chats! Before you go, do you have any tips for anyone looking to start their own bookstagram?
For anyone who wants to start a bookstagram account, connect with people who read the type of books you want to read. Chances are, you will receive a lot of recommendations and ideas from the books on their feeds. On the other hand, also branch out and try new things. I started out reading YA and Contemporary novels, but after following some classics account, I was inspired to pick up a lot more classics. Also, it is great to follow individuals with beautiful accounts, since they will inspire your own feed and give you ideas on how to improve your account’s aesthetic. But don’t just follow people because their feeds are beautiful and ignore those whose feeds are not as aesthetically pleasing. Like the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, I believe content is always more important than looks, and you will be surprised by how many quirky individuals you discover 🙂