Reading Around the Globe: Angela in Italy
“The barriers are many: money, distance, accessibility. There is this power unbalance between those who can afford to get the latest books and those who can rely only on libraries to read something new. The shipping costs are a huge problem.”
Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
* Note: after months of crunching data, I decided to move Reading Around the Globe to a different day of the week as Saturdays are a low traffic day.
- What is your name? My name is Angela.
- Blog URL? Books of a Shy Girl
- Twitter handle? @booksofashygirl
- Where do you live? My parents are Chinese but I was born in Italy and I currently live there.
- Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one! I don’t think there is a reading culture in the city I live. Most of my classmates and friends are not interested in books and it’s quite hard to find someone who loves reading as much as I do. This is the main reason why I created ‘Books of a Shy Girl’: to find people with whom I could talk non-stop about novels. I mean, I don’t have much friends yet, despite me having blogged for 3/4 years, but I still hope to make new acquaintances!
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Mostly romance and fantasy books, but since I started blogging and created a Twitter account, I’m more and more passionate about diverse lit and I’m always elated to read works written by ownvoices authors.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes! I started reading books about famous Greek myths when I was in primary school and then I approached classics for kids. When I was in middle school, the principal gave each student the opportunity to choose a book from the library and after 30 days we swapped them with our classmates. This meant a new book every month!
- Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country! I used to read books written by Italian authors, but not anymore. I just… didn’t like them, finding something that was missing, Plus, most novels that are famous on an international scale will not be translated until months or even years later or unless the book was a huge hit right after its release. I kind of started reading books in English because I love the language and I was waiting forever for the sequels of books that would never be published in Italy.
- Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want? Sad to say this, but in small towns there aren’t libraries, and when I moved to the city I was excited to go to the library just to find out that there were only medical tomes and other old books, nothing about contemporary literature. You can imagine how disappointed I was about my discovery. Now I can only rely on physical and online bookstores to buy the books I want.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) I think HarperCollins? The only books I can find in bookstores, written in their original languages, are classics of English literature, like Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc.
- Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? When I first started blogging, I had both a NetGalley and an Edelweiss account. I deleted the NetGalley one after I realised that it worsened my mental health when the rate got lower and lower. For Edelweiss, I still have an account but I haven’t used in one or two years because not even one request had been accepted. I hated this last thing since there were many ownvoices books that represented me but every single time they rejected my request because I didn’t have any rate on Edelweiss to show them. How could I prove my worth as blogger if no one ever gave me the chance?
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. The barriers are many: money, distance, accessibility. There is this power unbalance between those who can afford to get the latest books and those who can rely only on libraries to read something new. The shipping costs are a huge problem because many publishers won’t send ARCs to International bloggers for this reason alone. It’s understandable, but I wish things would be easier for those who live in remote places.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I’d like if publishers listened more to what international, marginalized and teen bloggers have to say. After all, most books are marketed as YA so they’re the ones that are being represented in stories. I’m turning 19 in November, so I can still be considered as the primary target of most books I read, and I think that some of these books aren’t much relatable to me because adults wrote them.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Many independent authors will reach to you in order to get an honest review in exchange for the PDF or epub version of their works, I accepted a few requests when I first started blogging but then things got out of control with how many e-mails I was getting and I no longer accept them. I suggest you sign-up for blog tours because they usually send you an e-ARC if you’re going to review the book, and once I got a physical advanced copy. You should sign-up for NetGalley, but I recommend requesting only the books you really want to read. Out there, there are bloggers and authors who recognize their privileges and try to help us international bloggers. An example is the ‘Flapping Pages ARC Program’ created by Kal. If you are lucky and you have an efficient library where you can request books recently released, use it. Many bloggers I know started by reading novels borrowed from their local libraries. Last but not least, participate in giveaways. I know that a lot of them are US/UK/AUS only, but there are plenty of people who organize international ones.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? One thing I’ve always been excluded from are conventions and events like BookCon or YALC. I can’t afford to go to New York, or even London which is much nearer, and I wish I could. I’m disappointed that I do not have the privilege to meet my favorite authors and have them sign my books, to encounter fellow bloggers or get to know new ones. I am always envious when businesses like FairyLoot are giving away limited ARCs like Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan and I dream of being there and take a copy of the book that represents me.
Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country. If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.
Let’s go on another adventure together!