Hernadi Tanzil: A helping hand for book lovers
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 03/16/2007 4:05 PM
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Iwan Sulistiawan, Contributor, Jakarta

As book prices get more and more expensive every year, book lovers need help being more selective about the books they buy. Hernadi Tanzil is giving that help.

The 37-year old accountant has written numerous book reviews for the national and local media.

“”I’d like to help book lovers be more selective in picking out the books they want to buy,”” said Tanzil.

“”That’s my purpose for being a book reviewer. Besides getting extra money, of course,”” he said.

Tanzil usually reviews books about history, culture, and literature. His reviews have been published in lifestyle magazine Djakarta! and other prominent publications including Koran Tempo, Media Indonesia, Mata Baca, Batam Pos and Imajio (formerly Aksara literature magazine).

Tanzil became a book reviewer by chance. The chief accountant at a paper manufacturing company, Tanzil has been a book addict since elementary school. At that time he read the local comic books of R.A. Kosasih and Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five.

When he was in junior and senior high school, Tanzil expanded his reading habit to the classical novels published by one of the Indonesia’s pioneer publishers, PT Balai Pustaka.

In 2000 the man who joined several literature mailing lists like Pasarbuku, Apsas, and Klub-Sastra Bentang began writing short commentaries on the books he read, posting them later in his web blog, http://www.bukuygkubaca.blogspot.com.

Djakarta! soon became interested in his commentaries, seeing them as fully qualified book reviews. The magazine offered Tanzil the opportunity to write regular reviews for them.

His first review was on Herman Hesse’s Siddharta. Since then he has written around 100 book reviews.

A great fan of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Karl May and Paulo Coelho, Tanzil feels grateful for the opportunities he has been given. Not only because lots of publishers now send him books for free, but also because he gets to meet people who can help him hone his skills and increase his knowledge.

However, most publishers that send books to Tanzil demand he write his reviews immediately. Tanzil said he wished he had formal training on writing reviews. He said he often felt guilty when he could not write them to deadline.

“”I’ve got to have a better time management to divide my working hours for the company I work for and for the books I review,”” Tanzil sighed.

Tanzil, who lives in Bandung, West Java, said he was happy with the growing popularity of book reviews in Indonesia.

Nowadays, newspapers and magazines usually provide special spaces for book reviews. Book review writing is also flourishing on websites and blogs.

However, Tanzil, who chose Bahasa Indonesia as his favorite school subject, pointed out that practically no one in Indonesia takes book reviewing as a full-time job. Like Tanzil, most reviewers still work a regular job for the main part of their income.

Tanzil hopes that one day Indonesia will have a kind of Oprah’s Book Club where books are reviewed and later become popular best-sellers.

If Indonesia already had its own variation on Oprah’s Book Club, Tanzil predicted, it could be hoped that book sales would increase and book prizes would drop. Many more people could experience the great benefits of reading books, he said.

I guess we all share the same hope, Tanzil.