Mutia Tari is a book enthusiast based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, writing her first personal blog in junior high, publishing several magazine articles on high school, until this pandemic spurred her to create a special platform for reviewing books she reads on Instagram @bookexcursions. Through her account, she posts reviews about thw books she has read, her favorite book recommendations, the best places to read, and movies she’s currently watching. Her dream is to encourage people for the next generation to realize the importance of reading and literacy. Moreover, she wants to empower and inspire anyone who steps into her account, and help them discover their inner confidence and express their personalities through the books they read and other personal stories.

History is rich and full of stories - the romance of exchanging love letters, the heartbreak and inspiration of Holocaust survivors, and the cruelty of the World War can all be found when we look back. Our curator Mutia has carefully curated a collection of books that will take you back in time and make you fall in love with history.

But in the meantime, let's get to know her a little more!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Mutia. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. Besides being busy managing my bookstagram, I spend my boring daily life working as an employee of a state-owned company—hoping that the money would be enough to buy all the books from my never-ending TBR list. When I'm not falling for fictional characters, you can find me travelling, trying various skincare products, on my bed with my Netflix open with a horror movie in play, or binge-watching K-dramas.

Why did you start bookstagramming and how has your experience been?

The funny thing is, my bookstagram account was created by an accident. I made that account only for my best friends because they like to ask about what book I’m reading. I didn’t even know that ‘bookstagram’ was a thing that existed. Just right after I posted my very first book review, people started to follow me. That was the day that changed everything, the day that brought me to this point. And this month marks one year since I’ve created @bookexcursions back in 2021!

What motivates you to run your account?

One of the downsides of living in a densely populated country is the uneven education system. Reading interests and literacy levels in Indonesia is very low, it’s even embedded in social media, as clear as a crystal. Not to mention, there is the stereotype that people who like to read/being a bookworm isn’t cool— we’re seen as some sort of alien when I think we’re actually super badass. That breaks my heart.

That’s the main reason why I want to be serious about growing my bookstagram account, not only to channel my passion for reading but to change people’s mindset that reading is important and fun.

What is your favourite genre, and why?

I read almost everything, but I'm definitely a sucker for romance! I love almost all genres that have romance in them. Historical romance, contemporary romance, fantasy with romance, etc. I’m such a hopeless romantic who believes that everyone deserves their own love story that can make them feel butterflies-in-their-stomach moments. Likewise, because romance is very easy to digest, you just need to enjoy the plot without thinking critically. The emotions that romance stirs up are also a good way for me to learn how to react to something if I was placed in the character’s shoes.

What is your desert island book/ favourite book?

Pride and Prejudice! The banters and bickering between Elizabeth and Darcy are just everything I need.

Tell us more about your collection topic, Blast From The Past.

I personally love history, when I was a student and even now. In this collection of remarkable books, I want to invite you to explore both fiction and nonfiction through a historical lens and see how historical events and figures can be incorporated into rich stories. My hope is that you can reminisce and redefine the past that shaped us into who we are today, as individuals and as a society. Know that when you leave this world—no matter how small you think you are—you're forever a part of history.

So, live fully!

What are your top 3 picks from your collection, and why?

The Catcher In The Rye: My first time reading this book was when I was about 16/17 years old. I hate Holden, our main character. Also, I’m not familiar with Salinger's writing style, so that was too much for me to consume. Years later, I tried to give this book another chance. And surprisingly this time I could understand Holden’s character more. With all of his complexity,  his voice is the most eloquent of all. I don’t think this book is for everyone, but I really do recommend this one.

Anne Frank: Have you ever peeked into someone’s diary? Yes, you hear me right, A DIARY. This is not even a book. This is a diary of a 13 years old girl written during the World War. She thought and wrote over a few such things that didn’t occur to my mind until I read it but have applied throughout my life. I was amazed by her way of thinking which was more mature than other children her age. The way she visualizes herself, her thoughts, actions and mistakes are immaculate. I think this book is very sad and depressing but incredibly inspiring.

A Kiss At Midnight: A Cinderella retelling in Historical Romance? I’m Sold! It’s far from the Cinderella you know, though you’ll still meet the selfish stepmother, the vacuous stepsister, a faux-sparkly-glass high heels, an outrageously cheeky and meddling godmother, and of course, Prince Charming. A love story between them is achingly beautiful, with the engaging writing style and humorous dialogue, the ending was nothing but sweet icing on the cake. I personally love Eloisa James's works, so I’d suggest you try to read her other stories as well.

What are your experiences with second-hand books, and why would you choose second-hand?

Old books are exciting. The old covers, the yellowing pages, the musty smell, there’s a beauty to it all. It’s always intriguing to find what the previous reader has left inside such as their favourite idol photo, travel ticket, cute stickers, and even food promotion brochures. Buying second-hand books is like looking for pearls in the sea; hard to find. But once we find what we are looking for, it's pure bliss. There's a joy in exploring and so many benefits as well. Not only do we just pay affordable prices, but it’s also a form of effort to cultivate environmentally friendly reading habits. Read, reuse, repeat.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Judge less, read more. I hope you enjoy discovering your new favourites in this collection, as I enjoyed curating them. Reach out to me on @bookexcursions and let’s be friends!