November 21, 2015

In the Company of Those Who Read: Syeda Urooj Fatima, The Pakistani Bookstagrammer

What would you say the readership base is like in Pakistan? 

The readership base is quite strong, but I also sometimes feel that when it comes to young adult or fantasy books, the taste is very constrained. It’s like they have restricted themselves to certain known authors and that needs to change. So basically the trend of book reading in Pakistan is very cliché: lots of Elif Shafak and John Green and Khalid Husseini, but if I ever put up a picture of something by, say, Haruki Murakami, barely any Pakistani follower comments on those.

The Introduction

They say, and bear with me for a second on the cliché here, that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the digital world, this becomes valid a thousand times over, because on the internet, attention is fleeting. Syeda Urooj Fatima, an Instagram book blogger with an eye for detail, knows this to be true, and knows exactly how to use this age old adage to her benefit. Based in Pakistan and studying to be a dentist from Jinnah Medical and Dental College, Urooj’s book blogging is no simple side activity. With 10k+ followers in the space of 9 months, Urooj takes her audience seriously, and it shows. On her Instagram account you will find everything from gorgeous arrangements of the latest YA releases to artfully depicted portrayals of the latest Pakistani indie venture, all put together with a colourful, eye-catching background of scarves, rugs, beaded necklaces and stunning flower arrangements. Pitching ideas such as the ‘Peregrinating book of Pakistan’, where one book travels through Pakistan’s cities, exchanged from one avid reader to another, Urooj is playing her part in making sure that the reader community in our country is alive and thriving. In terms of book bloggers in Pakistani who have taken over the Instagram scene, Urooj is one to follow.

Why You Should Be Interested

It’s easy to convince readers to love blogs which talk about books, but Urooj might be that rare person who makes books look fun to the non-reader as well. Because her Instagram blog is being run by someone motivated purely by her connection to the joy of reading, it just might be that niche space on the World Wide Web dedicated to the pure, unbridled bliss that one finds in spotting a book you love, or in appreciating a book’s cover. While it’s all good and well for academics to discuss plot constructions and character motivations in a particular piece of literature, there’s something to be said for the enthusiasm that a reader with a love for words can generate, and that is something Urooj does well.  And while it might be said that Pakistanis are slowly gaining a foothold in the social media market, very few are making a mark in that part of the online world succinctly titled bookstagramming. In this case, any reader worth his or her salt should be checking this blog out, if only to get a daily dose of beautiful arrangements of books in one pretty package.

The Location