Why do you love reading?
I love reading because of the possibilities it offers. It was books that made me realize that each life is different, every person has a story. I love the new perspectives that reading brings to me; it shapes how I think and understand the world. I also love reading because it can be adventurous.
What book or series got you into reading?
Aside from the Agatha Christies and Nancy Drew mysteries, it was the Harry Potter series that made me familiar with the “I need the next book” feeling.
When did you start reading?
I’ve been reading ever since I could recognize words on pages. My first bookish experience was with Encyclopedias and the Here’s More Tell Me Why books. I got introduced to “books for children” in kindergarten, and my parents realized I love books so they started gifting me them on occasions and taking me to the bookstore. (We didn’t have libraries so buying was the only option.)
Where do you read?
In bed before I sleep and at my study desk at other times of the day.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I enjoy reading a bit of everything, but I particularly like stories that explore themes like identity and immigrant experiences. I’ve always felt that I read a little “erratically” because—living in Saudi Arabia—I read from whatever books were available at the bookstore, and later picked from whatever publishers were willing to send me. I’ve never thoroughly explored a genre, author or theme, but I’m in India now, and books are in abundance and easy to access. I’m planning to explore South Asian, Asian, and Middle Eastern narratives in 2019. These are the kinds of books that I most enjoy, I’ve just never been able to exclusively pursue them before.
For you, why is it important to read books by or about women?
Women’s voices have been muted too often in history, and I’ve personally experienced this coming from a country where I wasn’t always allowed to express my views. Living in that kind of environment showed me how easy it is become complacent and stop thinking for oneself and questioning. Reading rescued me from that kind of mental complacency, and being a female, I know that women often have a perspective that’s more valuable for me personally. It’s important to read books by and about women because every book read is one more woman’s voice heard. It’s a form of support and learning.
What about you as a reader are you looking forward to sharing on Reading Women?
I’m hoping to share my perspective on books as a female reader from the Middle East who has South Asian roots. So I look forward to talking about books from the Middle East and South Asia. I’m hoping the narratives I explore will start discussions with people in the RW community and also broaden my own perspective.
What are you most excited for about joining the RW team?
I’m excited about working with a wonderful group of women. Kendra and Autumn have always been inspiring women to me, but I’m happy that RW has connected me to Jaclyn and Sachi; I value their perspectives and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from working with them.
Sumaiyya is a Bookstagrammer and freelance writer and editor who specializes in Middle Eastern and Muslim narratives. In 2018, she left her job at a Saudi magazine and moved to India to pursue a Masters in English Literature. She’s hopeful that her time in India will connect her to her Indian roots and freshen up this facet of her identity—a task she also hopes to take up with the help of literature. When not reading, Sumaiyya writes about her experiences as a female with a Saudi and Indian background and enjoys exploring the culinary and cultural experiences the city has to offer. She lives in Delhi with her precious cat, Gatsby.