I first connected with Sanchari Das over her book review of my debut novel The Little Light. I’d read numerous reviews of my book by this point – but Sanchari’s review was special. I remember reaching the end of her review and thinking, “She understood me. She really understood me.” 

In addition to having our novels read by readers all over the world – we writers are searching for that elusive soul who will see us. Truly see us. And no one can understand an author quite like another author. 

I have a chat with Sanchari Das about how her journey as a book reviewer has shaped her as an author.

Dipa: You’ve been a book reviewer for two years now. What made you decide to start reviewing books?

Sanchari: I started it basically to have something to post on my blog. I began with Enid Blyton’s adventure books and used reviewing as a means to remember what the book is about.

So, it actually began as a personal journey.

But I soon realised how fulfilling the activity of reviewing books is and how it helps me enjoy a book twice. And there began my journey of book reviews and now I just can’t read a book without reviewing it.

A bestselling author since the 1930s, Blyton’s books have sold over 600 million copies

Dipa: You said that reviewing a book makes you live the experience twice – once while reading it and once while writing about it. How does this change your experience of the book?

Sanchari: Oh, it totally changed my reading experience. Just as I said, now I can’t read a book without reviewing it. My brain automatically starts to jot down all the beautiful points that it finds in the book while reading it. And even when I keep telling my mind that it’s just for fun that I’m reading, it keeps me pestering until I write a complete book review.

My heart just enjoys talking on and on about a book that it just finished reading.

What this has changed in me is, now I can vividly remember a book and what I felt while reading it. Before, it was always a one time experience and I used to forget everything about it after a few months of reading. Now that doesn’t happen. Even if I don’t remember the little details, I can at least provide a plot summary and remember the lessons that the book wanted to convey.

Which, I think, is a great thing!

Dipa: How has reviewing books changed and influenced your own journey as an author?

Sanchari: I believe reading books and writing regularly are the two things that build a writer.

As a book reviewer, I read a lot of books in these two years. And with each book I learnt something new. The books which were great taught me how to catch the readers’ attention and keep up their curiosity; while the not-so-good books taught me what we ought not to do in the books which might be disastrous for our reading experience.

I even applied some of these techniques to my later works or while editing the previous ones. And I believe, that worked out fine.

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Dipa: Authors should be prepared to have their books criticised. I can still remember the first time I received a highly critical review of my book. What is your view on literary critics? 

Sanchari: No one is perfect and the author is a terrible judge of their own books. These are the two reasons why we need literary critics. And it’s not only for authors but for everyone in every field of life. Because if we don’t understand our strengths and weaknesses then how will we grow?

Literary criticism does just that.

But then, there are some who just bash a book but never point out its exact flaw or how it can be corrected. Such criticism is only aimed at harming the author but has nothing positive to offer.

But the positive criticism goes a long way in building an artist. And an author should always focus on those. They don’t need to worry too much about the weaknesses pointed out there, but rather, note them down and patiently work on them so that the next book can be free of such imperfections.

And that’s exactly how we all grow: by eliminating our flaws and polishing our works.  

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