Today, as a part of the Interview Of The International series, we have Ruby from Ruby’s Books. She’s a twenty-nine year old book blogger living in Italy. She claims to be a coffee fiend who’s also a TV show binge watcher, a full-time bookworm. She holds a psychology degree and would much rather live in a fantasy world than in the real one. Ruby loves discovering new books, and bookworms to flail over books together. As a a great reading enthusiast and a talented book photographer, Ruby is a pleasure to have over on my blog today.
- Let’s start with the usual, what got you into blogging about books, movies and TV shows?
Hi Fanna! Thank you for having me on your blog! I was familiar with blogging way before I started my book blog, as I had been doing it since high school, back when I had dreams of being a journalist. The transition to book blogging was inspired by a few of my friends who were sharing their thoughts about books online, on their personal blogs, and the fact that no one around me read the same books as I did. As sad as it may sound, my blog started out as the grown-up version of an imaginary friend. The idea to add random reviews of TV shows and movies came when I felt a little burned out and had lost the inspiration to write book reviews. I go through binge-phases, when I either read a lot or watch a ton of TV shows. So I thought it would be fun to include TV shows. Most of the movies I review have to be pretty important for me to review them; I don’t review every movie that I see.
- The book reviews on your blog are categorized according to both, rating and audience preference. As a book blogger, which of the two filters are more important for you? Would you pick up a book solely based on the rating it has previously garnered?
I feel like rating is such a subjective form of categorizing books. I don’t usually look at the rating, because I often find myself the black sheep, either by liking something unpopular or completely disliking something that most people love. I’ve seen sites that allow you to compare your bookshelves to other users’, like Goodreads for example, and I may have given a 5 star rating to books that others have rated 3 stars or less, and vice versa. So, for me, the mood that I’m in at the moment, whether for YA or adult books, motivates me to pick up the book in question. However, I also think that rating is important, which is why on my blog I wanted to offer readers the chance to pick the filter most important to them.
- You also have a separate heading for comic books. Do you think reviewing them is different from reviewing the prose-ridden fictional stories? Also, if you had to recommend one comic to our readers, especially to those who haven’t tried any, which one would you?
For me, reviewing comic books is a whole different beast than reviewing prose. While prose allows me the chance to “draw” the scenes in my head and to fill in the blanks with nothing to compare it to, comic books give me almost everything on a silver platter. So I feel almost compelled to consider/review the art, both separately and in relation to the story itself. The best comic books I’ve ever read are Monstress by Marjorie M Liu and Death Vigil by Stjepan Šejić. I also have a special place in my heart for Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye.
- There are currently eight reading challenges you’ve signed up for. Which of them, do you think, would be easier to crack and which would be a difficult task?
I expect the easiest one to be the New Authors Reading Challenge. I’ve always, always had fun discovering new authors, and I’ve done that challenge in the past and it was the easiest one for me. The hardest one…it’s really a tie between the Discussion Posts one and the Beat The Backlist challenge, mostly because I’m kind of awkward at discussion posts, but also because reading the books on a list kind of reminds me of mandatory readings in high school, which I hated. That being said, I’m definitely going to try to read the books on the list.
- You recently wrapped 2017 and set your goals for 2018. If you had to narrow down the whole year to one best thing that happened to you, in terms of blogging, what would it be?
The best thing of 2017 was probably the newest geographical limitations that Goodreads and Netgalley introduced towards the end of the year. This is probably going to confuse a lot of people, but I’m actually happy for them, because it allowed me to discover an amazing group of international people who, like me, were bothered by the same limitations, were inspired/forced/convinced/determined—or whatever word you want to use—to meet each other and become friends. I think discovering the international group of the bookish community was the best part of 2017.
- You live in the beautiful Italy, right? So as an international blogger, do you find yourself at a harder place in the community?
I’ve been living in Italy for almost 8 years now, and it’s an interesting experience, both as a person and as a reader. I find that in most cases, I still have access to a few blog-related things I desire, such as English books and popular ARCs in English, and I feel that being in the European Union allows me to have access to a lot of resources that maybe being in any other continent or outside of the EU wouldn’t. I’m still new to physical ARC requesting, so I don’t really have a good idea of what I can or can’t receive. I think, ultimately, though, it’s all about what you like to read. If you’re all about the overly-hyped books, then I feel like access to those ARCs and giveaways is more restricted, but if you also want to focus on the less popular books and authors, then you have more chances.
- How do you use the best available resources in Italy to keep your blogging journey on track?
I live in a pretty small town, so I don’t have that many resources available around here. While there are a few bigger bookshops in my city, the English book selection is rather small, most of them focusing either on mysteries and thrillers or on the really famous authors. The only good thing is that one of these bookshops sells used books, and I’ve been lucky enough to find some books that interest me on that section more than once, so I sometimes get my fix that way. As for the libraries, there are a few libraries here, but English books aren’t usually among the books available. Only classic books are available, the ones I personally don’t want to read.
While there are a few big book conventions in Italy, I can’t really say I’m interested in any of them, since none of the authors I read and love come here. The only way for me to use the resources available are to interact with other Italian bloggers. Which I try to do, since it’s always great to meet book lovers living around you.
- With around 1000 followers on both twitter and instagram, which of the two is your favorite social media handle? Any tips for those looking to hike their following on both the platforms?
I like Twitter because it gives me a chance to interact with people, have entire conversations with them. At the same time, Instagram allows me to explore my passion for photography, so I can’t really pick one over the other. I feel like passion is the key to both platforms. I don’t really go after trends, I tried that and felt miserable about it, and it even showed, especially on Instagram. People will know if you don’t like what you’re talking about. The great part about Instagram though is that it allows you a few things, aside from interacting with people of similar passions. One, to improve your craft, and two, to sign up for photo challenges. And two leads to one, which in turn leads to you signing up for more photo challenges. And as always with social media, interaction is important. Don’t forget to take a moment and interact with people, maybe give them a shout out; you’d be surprised to know how much that helps.
- Ebooks or Paperbacks? Covers or blurb? ARCs or Backlists?
I don’t really care about the medium I’m reading in—ebooks or physical books—what matters to me is how fast I read. I read ebooks way faster than paperbacks for some reason that I still haven’t managed to figure out. A cover gets my attention, but it’s the blurb that really hooks me in. ARCs or backlists… Both really. ARCs are fun especially when it’s a book I’m dying to read, particularly if they’re part of a series and I’m waiting to learn what comes next, while backlists usually don’t carry any pressure with them to read as fast as possible or to review them by a set date.
- Last but not the least, what’s the best thing about being a part of this community?
Meeting new people. In addition to the perks, the ARCs, the review copies, the swag, the pre-order incentives, the conventions that you hear about because you’re a book reviewer—regardless of what medium you use to review books—it’s the people who I met so far, who I’m meeting every day, and who I don’t think I would’ve ever met otherwise, is what I love and that keeps me continue doing this, after all these years.
There’s also a learning process that goes hand in hand with blogging that is sometimes less acknowledged, but it’s just as important as interacting with people. I never, in a million years, imagined I’d learn HTML or how to properly format a text or how to figure out what stats are or how to take that perfect photo that works for a blog post. And not just technical stuff, but also the things that come naturally to a lot of people—like writing a formal email or just sounding super professional and laid back at the same time. Blogging and working with social media is a constant learning process, and it’s something that I don’t think I would have even given the tiniest of thoughts had I not been in this community.
That is honestly so true, and on that note, we wrap up this interview. Thank you so much, Ruby, for sharing your thoughts and being such a lovely person altogether.
Thank you so much for having me!