Inside The Minds & Creative Lives Of Two Guy Bookstagrammers
By Shelbi Starnes (@thenobbylife)
It only takes a cursory glance through popular book-related hashtags on Instagram to realize that the majority of book accounts are owned by women. Nothing wrong there. In fact, it’s quite a celebratory thing. But we probably shouldn’t overlook the fact that men, who rarely share about their reading experiences, are not very populous on Bookstagram. Therefore, it seemed like a good idea to do an interview with two male bookstagrammers in order to learn about them and their bookish experiences on Instagram. Faroukh (@theguywiththebook) is the 2018 recipient of the London Bookfair Bookstagrammer of the Year award and Brendan (@brendanslibrary) is a voracious reader, tea drinker and British citizen now residing in Canada.
How did you get started photographing and sharing about books?
Faroukh: I actually started Bookstagram by chance. My earliest pictures on this account are really really bad! I started the account because I wanted to register all the books I’ve read (think about that! I didn’t know what Goodreads was!!!)
Brendan: I've always been interested in photography, and I first joined Instagram to follow various travel and nature accounts, to travel and see new places from the comfort of home. I tried to use my first account as a little photoblog to chart what I was doing and where I had been. It quickly became focused on books, though, and I soon discovered #bookstagram.
When I moved to Canada towards the end of 2015, I decided to start up my own #bookstagram account to share what I was reading and chat with like-minded readers. It kept me sane while I was waiting to hear back on job applications through those first few months!
What is a trend or account on Instagram that’s inspiring you right now?
Faroukh: I’m actually really fond of easygoing accounts who don’t try too hard and do what they like, a couple of them which are favorites are @africaanah and @theclubofbooks. If you follow them, you’ll not only get bookish content but also a look into their daily lives — Africaanah with her café visits and Zumba, theclubofbooks with her mommy life and cute, little Saara!
Brendan: There are so many wonderful accounts out there, but I've been thinking recently about how I could spruce up my reading space and shelves. @hotcocoareads posted a shot of her home library the other day, and it made me swoon! It is a reader's paradise, and I'd love to have a spot of my own that is as cosy and well-stocked with reads as hers.
Otherwise, I've been really inspired by a few people who have been sharing their Instagram tips recently, particularly Jen at @bluestockingbookshelf, Faroukh at @theguywiththebook and @sumaiyya.books, too. I often fall into the habit of taking a quick and easy shot without thinking too much about it. Their posts have been inspiring me to slow down and put a little more thought into my photos, or to change up my layout and style a little.
How can we encourage more men to share what they’re reading?
Faroukh: It’s actually really tricky, men over all are a bit bottled up when it comes to showing emotion and emotion plays a big part when it comes to expressing your likes/dislikes for a book. I think women express themselves more openly when it comes to their feelings for books. So I guess that’s the reason why we don’t see many men on bookstagram, and I guess the only encouragement is to show male readers it’s a great way to share all things bookish through bookstagram!
Brendan: I think it's important to nurture a love of reading in young people as there are so many activities competing for your time and attention at that age. I remember many visits to the library as a kid, being left to choose whatever book appealed to me. Sometimes that was a Point Horror book or maybe a Choose Your Own Adventure, but I just loved getting lost in the story. I was also fortunate to have a few teachers who recommended books to me and made literature fun. I have always felt comfortable talking about and sharing books with others, and that's why I love the #bookstagram community so much.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
Brendan: I technically have a lot of books on my nightstand as I use a small bookcase. However, I've just started reading American Pastoral by Philip Roth. I'm also dipping into a short story collection by Canadian author Mark Anthony Jarman, and I recently picked up a few books about writing to help me at work.
What unique point of view do you feel men bring to Bookstagram?
Faroukh: I think, more than anything, male bookstagrammers bring their perspective and opinion on stories. Usually, and this is just my feeling, men do not express as much as women do when it comes to sharing their feeling. So this aspect of Bookstagram widens the scope of discussion as you get to see a book from a male reader’s perspective.
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About the Author
Shelbi Starnes is an educator living in Texas who spends her free time doing photography, baking, reading, writing, and traveling. When she's not hanging out with family and friends, you can probably find her in a local coffee shop plotting her next adventure. You can follow her bookish and life adventures on her blog
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