It's a phenomenon that is sweeping the world, at least the literary world. And if you haven't jumped on the book talk bandwagon. Well, now is your chance to learn more. This week we are exploring book talk from all the angles. We're going to hear from authors. We're going to hear from book talkers, and it's going to be amazing. Let's do this. I'm Sarah Wendell. I'm Alisha Rai. Welcome to lovestruck daily where we bring you love every single day
I'm in love with that I'm in love with you.
So I think in these three episodes, we are going to take a deep dive into all of the things that make book talk unique and interesting. And there's so much to talk about. Yeah, for anyone who hasn't learned or heard about this Alicia what is book talk and for that matter, wants tick tock so tick
tock is a video social media app. And it started initially as like a you know, they call it like the kids dancing app, right? It was initially for music and audio and dancing and like lip singing. And then it turned into something I think bigger than itself when it turned into Tik Tok. And now it is everybody under the sun billions of users from all these countries everywhere all over the world. Yes, singing dancing, skits, talking, connecting community. And there's all these little different subsets of Tik Tok Now, a couple of years ago, you know, when I was first starting out, and nobody really understood what Tik Tok was, and nobody understood what book talk was. Somebody said to me, are you on book talk? And they thought it was like a separate app. It's not a separate app. No, it's It's its own little community of readers and authors and people who love books on Tik Tok. It is just a little niche part of Tik Tok. And it's lovely because I feel like there's Bookstagram there's book Twitter, you know, like any any place you go, you will find book loving people.
Yes. And I remember when Twitter became huge, and all of a sudden television live coverage would put people's tweets on the screen to show what the people were saying about a thing. Yeah, that is no tick tock, people's tic TOCs are now the capsule capture of what's happening right now. Yeah. And they're short, they have to be short, you have to get to the point, you don't have a lot of time, right? I love it. And also, it's, it is a way to find the people who love the thing that you love and want to talk about the thing that you love. And that is, I think the generative human experience, finding the language to talk about the thing that you love to do so you can find other people who love that thing just as much. And we are inviting one of the most popular book talkers onto the show to tell us all about this world in her own words. And I'll give you a little spoiler. She was so excited to talk to Alicia and Alicia was so excited to talk to her. We're mutual fans are fans and that level of enthusiasm is exactly what makes Tiktok amazing. It's so cool.
Today we're talking to somebody from semies bookshelf and she is so sweet and wonderful and she is in charge with one of the people who volunteers for an organisation called book talk which I am doing a panel for this week, which is just a collection of people who love books by marginalised authors and marginalise readers and it's, it's so great and nothing that I could have even dreamed up 10 years ago. So I love seeing the youth. Youths on Tik Tok really dismantling so many things and creating such a great space so we're talking to Sami today. We are very excited. And please give a very special lovestruck Welcome to Sami. Thank you so much for joining us today. Some of you it's so good to have you and very excited to see your face. I've seen you all over for having me in my email. So very nice to see your face.
Alright guys, when you emailed me that first time and you were like I love your tick tock, I actually almost passed out.
I do your tick tock you come across my page. I think it's because we have like probably an intersection of like South Asian books like there's, you know, that algorithm just it knows us real well. So why don't you give us a quick little rundown of your background how you know, what is it that you do day to day,
I ended up on BlogTalk during the pandemic, I had a lot more time on my hands. I was at university Just didn't at that time but you know, I was, it was the BNP dynamics professors didn't know what they were doing. So classes were suddenly a lot easier. I was like, let me start reading again because it's been a while. And then I waited a couple of months. I didn't want to tick tock. I saw people making videos about books, and I was like, let me get on this. So it's been, I think almost exactly two years now that I've been on Tik Tok. And in my day to day life, I'm still a student, I graduate next year, and I'm a stem girly. My major is math. I currently don't have a day job. But I do volunteer at book talk. That is my part time quote unquote, job. And that's
that's book talks about be Oh, okay. TALTA.
Okay. Yes. Book Talk. The nonprofit. Yeah, I always forget to clarify between.
I'm sure people would be like, Oh, my gosh, you can volunteer? What is your what is your tick tock trajectory? Let's say like, when you started out, where did you start out making content about books? Or was it just, you know, you were being goofy on the internet? And then suddenly, you found your niche? How did you? How did you come about?
I think it was just books. Like from the beginning. I started with like those typical quote, unquote, book talk books. And then I slowly found, like, books with South Asian representation. I was like, Wait, that's possible. I was like, 19. And I'd never read a book by a South Asian author featuring a South Asian character. Yeah.
So when I read my first one, like that was like, I was just hooked after that. And then I changed my content, basically, to like, be more for South Asian voices and diverse voices in general, as well. But obviously, with a special focus, what I really liked about your account, especially is that you are so enthusiastic about the books that you love. And I mean, as an author, like I can tell you that is invaluable like to have readers who are like, I cannot put this down like that is the dream. I don't want readers to go to the bathroom when they read my book, like I want you to hold it. cover to cover and then go on and talk about it.
You know, they're portable, right? Well, yeah. I just wanted to make sure
that that is the only way. But like, a lot of South Asians books in the bathroom are no no, my mom always told me no books.
Yeah, cuz like books are like God, like,
yeah. So and in Hinduism, yes. They're sacred. So you're not allowed to, like touch your feet to them? Or like, bring them in like unclean places, either. Absolutely.
Yeah, I used to get I used to get like my grandma used to get so mad if I ever did that. Like it because I would read in the bathtub all the time. And she'd be like, Yeah, take it to the bathroom. And I was like, Well, I'm going to
specifically bought a ereader that's waterproof so that if I drop it, I haven't lost my life. Oh,
I'll see. You know what e readers are a lifesaver, because they're not. They're not technically books. So I feel comfortable sitting in the bathtub with an e reader.
I feel like that's fair. Yes, absolutely. I also found like, as I write more and work more online, I can't do e readers anymore. Like I need a print book now. Which is like, I feel like I've come full circle because I was so suspicious of e readers and beginning animals. And then I was like, oh my god, I can take 40 books on vacation with me one little thing. And now I'm like, Oh, I'm tired of looking at a screen. Paper book. Yeah. So what are your thoughts? Like on every day? I feel like we see another article. I think there was one of the New York Times recently, I think there was one in Washington Post recently to talking about how buttstock is changing the publishing industry. Like you know, tick tock is changing everything. What What are your thoughts sort of on the future? I mean, as like a romance reader as a, you know, somebody who's been in the genre for a minute like, what are your thoughts on how this platform will change publishing? Or what do you hope it'll do?
I think it's already changed publishing quite a bit right like it brought like Barnes and Nobles back from basically the brink of death. You see book talk tables, go whether it's Barnes and Nobles, indie stores, things like that, right. And you know, there was this whole thing about publishers trying to acquire books that are like marketable, but then that also comes around to then what what what counts as marketable, right? Like Who are you thinking of when you say marketable, it's almost always whites, its head people. So I actually I have mixed feelings on both talk. Like I hope that the trajectory it goes in is obviously being able to highlight more marginalised voices, especially as a lot of marginalised creators are being loud about it. I also fear the worst and that it does the opposite sometimes. I don't think you can have either and like perfectly it's gonna be something in the middle wherever I guess a lot of marginalised authors will be getting highlighted. But also then so well, a lot of these whites is head authors who don't write much representation as well.
Yeah, it's a chicken and egg scenario, I think. Right? And I do worry about that with the books a little bit where I'm like, oh, no, like, it's going to be a case, where it used to be, I mean that the code words, when when I was starting to write was like, Oh, we don't think that people will be able to find this relatable. And that was, you know, just codeword like, we don't think white people in target will pick this up. Right. And I do fear a little bit like you said, I fear that, that they've looked at the books that have gone viral. And they're gonna say, we don't think this is going to swing on tick tock like, we don't know if this is gonna go viral.
Even though it's like book talk displays, almost always just the viral moments. And they're, they're very rarely ever written by like, a person of colour, if at all,
very rarely, if ever, I mean, I, I occasionally, like wind up on those tables, but I don't like you know, I don't usually even make those table. And I, I do love what you said about bringing Barnes and Noble back because I do think that is very true. I think tick tock save Barnes and Noble. And I think part of it is that Barnes and Noble realise that their individual stores should have a little bit more control. And I went into one the other day, and there was a spicy book talk table.
Yeah, I've seen there's one in this town, that's like 30 minutes away. And it's like the most white like very conservative town and that a spicy book. And I was like, which
it's just it's so funny, because like to have something that says spicy romance, like in a Barnes and Noble that, like, would hide 50 Shades of Grey. Selling like, big. I think that is the biggest sign of like, how things have changed over the past two years. And I hope they continue to Yeah, so one of my favourite things about tick tock, and maybe you can confirm this is that the things that you work really hard on will never go viral. Yeah. The things that you like, posts off the cuff, just random, like thoughts will go like Mega viral, and you're like, oh, no, now people know me for a lot.
Want to be known for locks and cakepops, my friend locks and cakepops.
For people who don't know, I posted a random ass video about like an extra lock that I use on my door. And this made like people really upset and defensive. And so some, like Europeans are like, we have much better locks in Europe. And then the Americans are like get a gun. Why do you even bother with a lot. And then it got posted, like, like randomly on some Insell forum, I think. And now I have a bunch of men telling me that I'm not hot enough to be murdered, so I shouldn't even worry about it.
And as someone who worked at the front desk of a hotel chain, your lock is very smart. And you should only have one for God's sake. Like I wish I
was making money on this random lock. Like no, I'm not being sponsored for that. And there's always
that moment where you're like, I'm still talking about locks with you people what is happening.
From locks place. I think that is one of the coolest things. I mean, it's frustrating sometimes, but one of the cool things about tick tock is you never know what's gonna hit right. Oh, it's so true. And somebody somebody said to me like you should do branded locks, like for your next book because it's like a caper. It's like a heist. And so they were like, You should do branded locks with your name, amen. I don't want to be I don't want to feed this locker drama longer. So it's always like anything you put out like any content you put out. You can't even like curate it. It's just like, sometimes it goes viral. And sometimes it doesn't. What's like what's the most surprising video that you've put out that like kind of went big that you were like, oh man
saw me. What's your lock? Yeah, what's your lock? Um, so one time we'll be right back after the short break so
one time I woke up because my bookshelf fell over onto me. And that
is your Wait, hang on. backtrack. Is your bookshelf behind your bed.
Like is it so it's like it's adjacent to its I'm like My bed is pushed up. And then my bookshelf is on the opposite. So like, teetered over and hit like the edge of my bed but I just like loud. For am my dad running and what happened and I'm like, I'm like you that that video I think is my most viral video to date. And people thought like I faked it. I was like, Why would I go through all this energy tape over my own bookcase to like and have to clean up all that mess just for video Like, no like that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
You don't deliberately put your books on the floor? Have you not been listening?
I said that I was like why would I disrespect my books as a Hindu as a good into I would I do this you could you could have
stepped on them and that would have been really bad. So yeah, you would never do that. I was
like, tiptoeing to clean that stuff up. I was like, tiptoeing around my room. And like I almost fell over a couple of times. I was really trying not to step on any bugs. It was hard.
Yeah, that's, that's very stressful. And very funny. I love that people thought that you deliberately through your book shelf over you.
But like, what, what it gets, like,
what a good sign of how many books you have on that shelf? Right? It's a sign I've been in California, like three years now. So not not very long. And the thought of having anything near my bed now freaks me out. You don't live in California. So I don't think you need to worry. I'm very paranoid about things around my bed. And maybe you are too now I don't know.
If I ever moved to California, I will be. Yeah, you should
be. I should be pleased. That's like my my takeaway for all anyone planning to move again? Like don't put it near your bed? What What are your plans for the future? I mean, besides book talk, what do you hope to do? both in and out of the book industry?
In the book industry? I'm not really sure. I would like to continue with book talk the nonprofit
can you give us a little explanation of what the nonprofit is?
Yeah. So last year in March, Asante came to us and was like, Hey, I have this idea. She sounds like 100 people, I think. And she was like, I want to focus on marginalised voices in publishing. And I think we can organise a conference where we bring those voices together, and it's for them, and it's about them. And it's also about the readers who see themselves in these people's books. And we made it work last year, we plan the conference in like four months, it was an insane time. And we had enough success that we were like, Hey, let's do this again. But let's do it professionally. So we registered with, like the IRS and stuff like that and got our official status in like fall 2021.
And full disclosure, I'm doing a panel for you guys.
This week. Yes, you are. You're doing your one of our adult romance panels.
And I'm very excited about that. I think I think this is so cool to me because I I have been writing romance since like 2009. But I've been in the romance industry, like as a spectator, basically, since high school like I started reading romance, you know, in the 2000s in high school and college. And I feel like I would have never been imagined seeing something like this, like such a big conference especially focused on marginalised authors and readers is like a dream to me. So it's amazing to see. I mean, it feels like it's been a really long time. But that's been, you know, a dozen years or so like, so you guys are really doing amazing things. And it's really heartening to see that. For somebody who didn't have that when I was in college.
I love it when people say that.
People who maybe 10 years ago wouldn't have had a home anywhere or would have felt out of place. I remember when I went to my first conference when I was, you know, in 2010 or something I felt horribly out of place. Like I felt like I did not belong there. I hid a lot in my hotel room. I didn't talk to anybody. So to see a whole conference based around this is truly amazing. So good job to all. You're doing wonderful stuff.
I will be texting the team about this. They will freak out. Oh, good.
Do you have any book recommendations for us that you are loving that you're excited for that you've read? What what do you have for us?
Oh, okay, so I just started a million to one by the bodega there if young adult it's a heist on the Titanic. I love the bus. She's great. I worked with her on the launch for honey niches guide to fake dating as well last year. That's what I'm reading now. And then I'm hoping my ark of partners in crime gets approved on Net Galley. I'm really excited to read that one actually.
I mean, luckily you have a hookup now so if it doesn't please let me know. I'll be happy. And something what is your handle on tick tock or anywhere else that you want people to find you on the internet? It is somebody's bookshelf on Tiktok and Instagram. We'll see you around. Definitely. Oh for sure. And you'll see me this week on book talk and I'm very excited about that. And you know I everybody should go see book talk you be Oh k t a l k the conference and the nonprofit and support that so thank you for your work with that as well. Yes. Somebody thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it. You're a delight. Thank you.
Thank you for having me.
That was absolutely delightful. I could listen to you guys talk about how much you love what you do for hours.
Yeah, it's my favourite. Alicia,
what is our love to go?
I think the love to go for today is that fandoms will always find a way yes, as long as there's books, as long as there's authors creating books and readers who are hungry for them, they will find a place to congregate on every possible place on this planet, whether it's book clubs, or Twitter or Instagram or Tiktok. And what I love, love, love is seeing how fandoms change and evolve, and especially now how they're widening and broadening to include people. I mean, I talked about what my first conference experience looks like, and to see book talk now and to see that I'm not even the only South Asian author on the panel that I'm doing with them is mind blowing to me. So what a wonderful, wonderful world, you know that we live in that that all these people from all over the world can come together and talk about books, even if it's just books falling on them.
My rule of the Internet has always been no matter how obscure and strange your interest is, there is another person who loves that thing as much as you do. You are never alone in things that you love.
Yeah, and sometimes, I mean, those are like sometimes the interest is a little weird. But yeah, there's always someone there. There's you're gonna find your community. So I'm so glad somebody could come on. I'm glad she could talk about books. And I'm glad she has a platform from which to talk about what she loves. Absolutely. And I'm really happy for her. I'm happy to see what the next generation is going to bring us to.
Well thank you for being part of our community today and loving the things that we love. And thank you for sharing your time with us. If you are looking for more of me, Sarah, you can find me at Smart bitches trashy books.com I'm at Smart bitches just about everywhere and on your pod catcher, which is my second favourite word. At smart podcast, trashy books.
You can find me Alicia on Tik Tok at the real Alicia ride. Or on Instagram at Alicia raw rights or on Twitter at Alicia I also have a website Alicia ry.com And you can find me and Kai together on our new YouTube channel. The happy place comm check us out there. We're just going to be talking about all things that are happy and make us happy and hopefully they make some of them make you happy to do.
Our researcher is Jesse Epstein. Our editor is Jen Jacobs. We are produced by Abigail steckler and little Scorpion studios with executive producer frolic media. This is an I Heart Radio Podcast. Have a very happily ever after today. I'm in love with love with you. I'm in love with you