I’ve been a bookworm ever since I started reading. In all my years of reading and working on keeping my love for books alive, I’ve had two ‘Before and Afters’ that have redefined my reading life. The first is when I joined university to study literature, which added depth to my reading that I had no idea I was missing. It layered my experiences and gave me far better insight than I had before.
And the second ‘Before and After’ happened when I joined the Bookstagram community.
My account began purely as a method to document what I had been reading at the time (for my university courses), but I soon discovered the niche community of bookworms that has now become one of the most thriving and creative areas of the internet. In the time since, my reading patterns and habits have changed in a way that makes me appreciate Bookstagram and its many blessings.
1. I Became More Proud of My Love for Reading
My lifestyle has become more conducive for reading because of the motivational aspect of Bookstagram. Seeing others share their love for books deepened my own connection to literature. I became more proud of my love for reading and started to make a conscious effort to read every single day. Bookstagram helped me realize that our reading culture can become stronger and more positive when more people own it and show what they’re reading, just like they’d take a photo of their dinner for Instagram.
2. It Opened My Mind to New Things
The diversity on Bookstagram has made me more open to reading out of my comfort zone and trying out genres I hadn’t paid much attention to before (like romance, YA, classic sci-fi and historical fiction). I’ve also rekindled my interest in nonfiction and classics, and discovered the insightful nature of memoirs and travel writing. I’d never have thought of trying audiobooks or graphic novels if it weren’t for Bookstagram friends who pushed me to give these forms of storytelling a chance.
3. I Became Less Self-Centered
Before Bookstagram, I read self-indulgently, so my approach to reading was very self-centered. I knew contemporary authors like Khaled Hosseini, John Green, Dan Brown, Zadie Smith and Jodi Picoult were widely read and loved, but I didn’t look beyond my own reading sphere. But now, I’m more aware of bestsellers, books that are trending worldwide or in my own region and even what books are more popular these days amongst teens or older reading audiences. I know more about the world of reading for pleasure, and that has allowed me to make more conscious reading choices and know what books might appeal more to someone when they ask me for recommendations.
4. I’ve Made Connections
With Bookstagram we have a direct access to publishers, and they know we’re there. Anyone who follows publishers on social media, especially Bookstagram, knows what books are being published and what to expect in the coming months. I was never this aware of upcoming releases or even newly released books. Because of Bookstagram, I have a much longer list of books I want to read. It helps that publishers sometimes send me advance reading copies of books that are scheduled to release months later.
5. My TBR Turned Into a Mountain
There was a time in my life when I was freaking out because I had around 17 books on my shelf that I hadn’t read. I look at my TBR now and shake my head. These days I have over 150 unread books, many of these I need to review by a certain time. I know I’m luckier than ever before to get free books from publishers to read and review. But it is a lot of responsibility and sometimes I get anxious when I think about all the reading I need to get done.
6. I Developed A Little Anxiety
I’ve never felt more anxious about unread books out there. It’s impossible that anyone will ever read all the books in the world, but it’s a little daunting when you have a huge pile to choose from. You have 150 options, you can only pick one.
7. I Miss Discovering Random Books
But, I have to admit. I miss discovering books organically and sometimes I wish I didn’t have so many options for what to read next. There are rarely times when I go to the bookstore and find a book I didn’t know about. I miss the time when I’d read a book and go to buy my next read and be unsure of what I’d be bringing home with me. There’s magic in discovering books at random, as they fall into your life through friends or blurbs on the cover.
8. I’ve An Organized Reading Life
My nerdy side has found a new outlet. I keep a schedule of books that are expected to publish soon and that I need to review; this helps me decide what I should read next and also what I need to post about in the days to come. It’s quite organized but often it restricts my choices a bit. For this reason, I only accept books (from publishers) I’d actually want to read. Still, sometimes there’s no option but to pick a book based purely on my mood.
9. I’ve Made More Friends
I’m an introvert, but my time at university and being a part of Bookstagram have both introduced me to how wonderful it can be when you discuss a book with someone else who has read it. Now I regularly try to do buddy-reads with my favorites on Bookstagram and in real life. I’d been to book club meetings before, but this one-on-one discussion of a book has a whole other charm I’d never tried before.
10. It’s Helped Me Become A Better Writer
When I finish reading a book and sit down to write my review I ask myself: Who are the readers that this book would appeal to? Reading is no longer just about me enjoying a good story; it’s transformed into a community experience. I’ve become more aware of my responsibility as a reader, reviewer and blogger – I realize that my opinion will be read by others and I make sure to not mislead them.
11. I’ve Become A Little Obsessed
Let’s admit: Bookstagram is driving book sales everywhere. I’ve bought more books because of Bookstagram than I collectively did in the time before I joined. It’s been brilliant and a little addictive (I’m currently on a book buying ban). I’ve also found an appreciation for the Penguin Modern Classics editions and the Little Black Classics series by Penguin. #Shelfie is the new #goals!
In short? Join Bookstagram because it’ll make you proudly bookish. You’ll find an encouraging and positive community that reads and reads and reads.