Rega Jha would like to be introduced as “a freelance writer and columnist, and the founder and former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed India.” But that does little justice to her wonderful writing, brilliant Instagram account or her keen intelligence and innate generosity. We’re delighted she agreed to take our Book Addict’s Quiz!
What is your most powerful childhood memory of a book?
Having laughing fits—like, full-body, eyes-tearing laughing fits—completely by myself in my bedroom, in the dead of night, over the Hitchhiker's Guide series.
What line of literature or poetry do you quote ad nauseam?
I haven't (yet) allowed myself to become that tweed-wearing, booming-voiced uncle who goes around quoting poetry in casual conversation, but the lines I think of in full most often are probably Kamala Surayya/Das': "I have no joys that are not yours, no aches which are not yours. I too call myself I."
<Whoa… we googled that asap!>
What book do you regret re-reading?
I regret trying to re-read The Iliad, because it brought me to the conclusion that I was much smarter in college than I am now.
<Now that’s an A-grade humble-brag>
An author you adored as a child and have not thought about in years?
Huh. I guess all the ghostwriters who wrote the Sweet Valley books? I also need to have grown-up reconvenings with some childhood faves—Roald Dahl, RK Narayan.
<RKN—the Amul butter of every Indian’s childhood!>
What book would you gift to your worst enemy?
<Of course, right after you let them know you’ve read it… lol!>
I would love to see a movie/series adaptation of __ starring __ as __
<Perfect! Then we can all be saved the guilt of not having read Samit Basu’s excellent novel>
A book review that was better than the book?
Is it bad to say I... I don't read book reviews?
<Yes, it is. Some of our best friends are book critics. We take minor offense on their behalf>
What book do you pretend to have read?
I very recently realised I've never read Pride & Prejudice and have been lying that I have, not only to others but to myself even. Thanks, Keira Knightley. Thank you.
<Not the one with Colin Firth? Sad!>
What is the first “forbidden” book you read in secret?
I don't remember being forbidden any books! I'm realising that right now for the first time. Should thank my parents.
<A shame-free relationship with sexual content? Your therapy bills must be high.>
What book/author still counts as guilty pleasure?
Most of my guilty reading now is on my phone (advice columns! can't get enough. also—r/relationships. a relevant, spot-on take). But I recently picked up and flipped through a Harry Potter book. Was both pleasurable and deeply, deeply guilt-inducing.
<JK Rowling: The Enid Blyton of our times.>
Send us a photo of your tsundoku pile
The best I can do is this Kindle screenshot which nicely demonstrates how shamelessly I hop book-to-book, actually finishing about one in eight, it seems.
<120/100 for eclectic and erudite procrastination>
Thank you for playing, Rega! Also: do follow her on Insta. She’s a goddamn rock star!
Bonus reads for the long weekend
Because we won’t be keeping you company tomorrow:
- Manu Joseph in Mint argues that it’s never been more expensive or miserable to be a celebrity in India.
- Elemental explains how backpacks and even purses ruin your posture and cause back pain.
- Aeon does a deep dive into the connection between a parent’s childhood and how they attach to their own child.
- Well+Good explains how our armpits can offer clues to the state of our health.
- Swachchhasila Basu in The Telegraph pens a delightful essay on her childhood in Bokaro Steel City—surrounded by Russians, especially Mrs Kasalova.
- Tavneet Suri kicked it all off with a tweet about Bata shoes: “I always thought they were a Kenyan company... I learnt today my Indian friends always thought it was an Indian company... turns out the company started out in what is now the Czech republic…” What happened next is pure global Twitter magic. We loved browsing this thread brimming with amazing facts and photos.
- Vinay Kumar’s thoughtful essay in Goya Journal looks back at his family legacy of Dalit cuisine—and his childhood memories of blood fry.
- GQ offers a meditation on the ‘Grey Sweatpants’ phenomenon—i.e. leching at men in grey sweatpants. We’d say more except we sadly still don’t get it.