Asya speaks to us about the beauty of cookery books and her love of design.
Could you introduce yourself and your current role? How did you get into publishing?
I am pretty sure it was the legitimacy of overthinking that pushed me into the creative industries. I am actively pitching it as attention to detail now. Coming to the UK at 19 to study my undergrad in journalism was a pretty terrifying prospect, but I developed a keen interest in magazine design and lifestyle journalism. Being a writer was a big question mark at that point. But I knew I wanted to work with writers. Or at least people who understood my frustration with kerning.
So, publishing… I think I am still trying to get into publishing. Currently, I am the Production Editor for the SYP magazine InPrint and a Designer and Typesetter for a wonderful new initiative for publishing hopefuls—The Publishing Post. I am still trying to get my foot in the door like many wonderfully talented people out there but being positively realistic has served me well.
Has your role in publishing widened your reading taste, and how has it changed your attitude to different genres of books? My awareness of the different genres and publishers out there has definitely diversified. I worked on an illustrated creative anthology for the university publisher during my Publishing MA, which introduced me to poetry as a more varied reading experience. Most notably though, I started a real love affair with indie publishers, which also transcended into hunting down new and exciting publishers back home. What reading formats do you prefer? Do you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks, eBooks, audiobooks, library books, or a mixture? I love the look and feel of hardbacks. They are my weapon of choice for adorning bookshelves. Though I treat them as an object of luxury—there is nothing like picking up a cookbook or enticing fiction and feeling its weight. Yes, I have always steered towards book design and production, so I am very particular about this. Hardbacks tend to stay at home. I have an insane amount of paperback fiction, but recently I have to say I have engaged much more with eBooks. They are the most practical format on the go, but, for me, can never replace the grip and scent of an open book. What is your most-read genre? Do you have niche sub-genres that you are often attracted to? For example, fairy-tale retellings or books featuring a particular city? I basically collect cookbooks with slightly concerning commitment. I adore marvelling at the production quality and the design of a cookbook. The Cult Recipes series by Murdoch Books is one of my all-time favourites. They are not conventionally considered a leisurely read but evaluating food styling has steadily developed into a weekend treat.
What childhood books have you kept on your shelves? Very saddened to admit that the majority of them have somehow managed to vanish somewhere down the line, but one of the few that have thankfully made it into the moving boxes is a pretty battered edition of The Snow Queen by Andersen.
What is the oldest book on your shelf? An illustrated translated edition of The Arabian Nights. I don’t know when it was published but I remember my mother reading it to my brother which makes it at least 15 years old. What’s the most beautiful book you own? Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. One of the very few cookbooks I am actually cautious not to handle too much because I am afraid of polluting its gorgeousness. I cannot neglect to mention The Binding by Bridget Collins. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or jacket), but this is a work of incredible artistry.
What surprises you about your shelves? Is there a book you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did? I was gifted Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas for Christmas one year and I have to admit there was quite a bit of apprehension to pick it up. I have struggled with fantasy before but a friend who had just finished it went on and on about how good it is, so I decided to give it a go. Hand on heart, one of the best YA novel series I have encountered. Word of mouth marketing is alive and well. What are your favourite books of 2020 so far? I don’t know if I would call them favourites, but these two books lingered in my mind days after I finished them. A mark of a really good book indeed. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact, I was brooding over it for a couple of days. I picked up Dear Life by Rachel Clarke on a whim and was left overwhelmed by the heady mix of emotions. When a book can make you laugh, tear up and call your parents, you feel grateful for impulse shopping. What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of 2020? I am buzzing about the Ottolenghi Flavour cookbook. I also can’t wait to get my hands on The Betrayals by Bridget Collins. It looks visually stunning and sounds positively smashing.
What book should everyone read? I think everyone, particularly every woman, should read Nasty Women by 404 Ink. It was mind-blowingly candid. Unapologetically raw. If, no when, you are ready to look modern femininity in the eyes, you must read Nasty Women.