Tell us a little bit about yourself.I'm Humairah and I love books. A lot. I love the smell of libraries, mornings and coffee. I pursued my love for languages by studying Linguistics & Multilingual Studies back in university, and I now teach English and Social Studies to young, curious minds. When not hiding in bookshops, I devote my time to writing - poetry or prose, running, talking to cats, learning more about my deen, and everything else worth doing in between.
What inspired you to start The Book Jacket?I used to have a book review blog with a friend called The Non-Judging Book & Coffee Club at Noon back in 2011, born out of our mutual love for books and coffee. We blog about the books we have read and did book review collaborations here and there. Then life happened and both of us got busier, so we didn't have the time to update our blog as often as weliked. I decided to continue with a book blog on my own and named itThe Book Jacket. Initially, it started out simply as a blog to document and share about the good books I have read, but since then, I've expanded the content to include writings on my personal travels, lifestyle and faith. My blog & instagram are the main platforms I use to share and connect with like-minded individuals as I express and hone my craft of writing and love for reading.
What has been the most rewarding experience for you since you started The Book Jacket?Since setting up my own site to share my passion for reading and writing, I have to say getting messages and exchanging letters from friends from all over the world have been the most rewarding and encouraging. The friends I've made through this platform have all inspired me in their own little ways and I feel blessed to be able to reach out to these kindred souls. It's also been a pretty amazing journey of getting the chance to collaborate with a friend on a poetry book project which we self-published early this year, titled 'Quiet Mornings'. It was a little dream of ours to share our writings, specifically poetry, to the world, and whichwe didn't expect to materialize and garner positive response amongst our friends. And when they write to me, telling me that they are inspired to pick up a book and read, and even write their own poetry or their own stories... there's nothing more rewarding than that. It spurs me to continue doing what I do. It's a priceless experience, knowing that at least a soul out there is moved by what I do.
If you could teleport to a new place now, where would it be and why?Oh dear this is tough. Hogwarts? Okay no realistically speaking... Iceland. I want to witness the aurora and explore the unrivaled beauty of His creations. I'd love anywhere majestic that reminds me how small my problems and worries of this dunya really are.
What are 3 of your favourite destinations, and why?I haven't seen enough of the world but so far... London, for the vibes, Indonesia, for the warmth, Mecca/Medina, for the light.
What are some of the challenges you have faced while travelling and what did you learn from it?The language barrier. It's definitely helpful to prep ourselves by learning a few important common phrases to get around in the country. I've always believed that it's important to respect the culture of different people by putting in the effort to learn their language. Language is an inherent part of culture. So, keeping a handbook of important phrases and memorizing themwould be ideal.
What are your travel must-haves?A book, my jacket, & my prayer garment, just to name a few. But always a book. Never without a book.
Tell us an insider tip for people travelling to Seoul?I think this can be said for any other country really, but I highly recommend staying at their hostels! Not only will you get to make friends, but you'll also receive helpful tips on how to get around and more local recommendations on where best to visit, besides the common touristy areas. The friendly owners of the guesthouse I stayed at in Seoul served omilja tea upon arriving and we chatted till late albeit the lack of a common language. Needless to say, it’s usually the people that will make any traveling experience a more worthwhile one. And especially in Korea, you'll notice recycling being a widely practised routine in the hostels and all around really; a practice we can all learn from and inculcate in our daily lives.
Which country is the first on your bucket list?Turkey. It's my late mom's dream country; we often talk about visiting it, and I have heard many beautiful things about this place. I'd like to visit Turkey in memory of her, and be inspired by its magic and all that it has to offer.
Fill in the blank: My hope for the world is that…We read more. Read widely.Read books. Read the papers. Read each other. Just read. When we learn to read, we learn to understand. When we learn to understand, we learn to respect and appreciate that everyone of us is different and that's beautiful. We learn to read His signs in the universe, ponder, and equally important, we learn to listen to what He is telling us, so we can be awed by the blessings we are gifted with and appreciate the temporary, fleeting wonder of this world before we leave. We can all be empowered and inspired to be a catalyst for change and leave our mark, if we truly open our eyes to read. And I pray the world will heal, despite the scars & bruises. It's still beautiful when we look past that and appreciate God's gift of this world to us in all its transient glory.