I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasmine who runs the highly popular bookstagram account @diaryofaclosetreader. Based out of Los Angeles, she most enjoys reading contemporary, new adult, and YA romances.
1. You have such a fun account that is loved by many. When and why did you decide to start a bookstagram? What do you think has been an important factor to your page’s growth?
I started my account five years ago after attending the LA Times Festival of Books for the first time. I left the festival feeling so inspired, and since I didn’t have anyone in my life who was a reader at the time, I wanted to have a place where I could talk books with people. I never in a million years thought anyone would care about what I was reading myself. My page started as a literal photo diary to help me keep track of what I was reading and to follow book accounts for recommendations.
2. What got you into romance? Do you remember the first romance novel you read?
The first romance book that I remember reading was Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt the summer before my freshman year of high school. I was already a huge reader and read through a ton of middle grade books and wanted to try something new. A worker at Barnes & Noble introduced me to the YA section—which at the time was literally just one or two bookshelves—and suggested Two-Way Street. I instantly fell in love with YA because it felt like the characters knew exactly how I was feeling at that time in my life and were able to formulate my thoughts into words when I couldn’t myself. Plus, I fell in love with the idea of a happy ending. My mental health wasn’t at its best during that time and I think I just really needed to believe in happy endings in some capacity and romance gave that to me.
3. What are your go to recommendations for people looking to get into romance in the following subgenres:
Contemporary: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston, Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Paranormal/Fantasy: Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
YA Romance: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales, If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
4. Your pictures and captions have such an endearing feel. What are your picture taking and review processes like?
Thank you! I always keep a book with me when I leave the house, so sometimes when I’m out and about I’ll find a cute coffee shop or a pretty flower arrangement and snap a pic that way. But for the most part, I typically take the pictures that I plan to post throughout the week the weekend before. I keep notes in my phone of picture ideas or books that I need to remember to take a picture of and use that as my guide. I carve out about an hour to take the pictures in my apartment (usually includes: pics of my current read, two books that I plan to read next, book mail, pictures of any recent reads that I may have finished, and so on).
When I take a solo shot of a book, I usually pick an element of the story and create a photo around that. For example, for my Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey post, the main character had a movie written about her love life, so I found things around my apartment that I could use to make the picture feel movie-like: I popped some popcorn, put on When Harry Met Sally, and I knew I wanted to made a “red carpet” using a red scarf.
For reviews, it’s easier for me to take notes as I read and then talk out what I thought of the book after I finish. I usually talk it out with my boyfriend and record what I say to make it easier to refer to later in case I don’t write out my review right away. This helps me to better put into words what I connected and didn’t connect with the story.
5. If you could have dinner with one romance writer (dead or alive) who would it be and why? What would be the most important question you would want to ask them?
I recently watched Emma, so I have Jane Austen on the mind! I would love to ask her about writing romance during her time.
6. What is your favorite part about romancestagram? Do you have any pet peeves?
My favorite part of romancestagram is getting book recs, connecting with authors, and befriending fellow booklovers. I’ve discovered my romance book club thanks to the platform!
7. What tropes are you most drawn to?
I find that I’m most drawn to friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, fake relationships, and second chance.
8. What has been your favorite read of 2020 so far? Do you have a most anticipated release coming up for the second half of the year?
This year has been one of my favorites for romance books! It’s so hard to pick just one, but if I had to, I’d say Beach Read by Emily Henry because from the first sentence I was completely sucked in. (Honorable mentions would be You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, Well Played by Jen DeLuca, and The Roommate by Rosie Danan). And I’m really looking forward to You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria and Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade.
9. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for people looking to start their own account or grow the one they currently have?
I’d say read what you want to read. When I first started my account romance still had such a negative stigma, so I was worried I would be looked down on if I posted what I really liked to read so I only posted when I read other genres. And that ended up hurting me because I had a hard time being inspired, figuring out something to say, and made reading feel more like a chore. But ever sense I decided to just make my account more romance-centric like I always really wanted, I’m so much more excited about posting, reading, and gushing with others about the stories I’m reading. I think you’ll enjoy being on the platform so much more if you don’t hold back like I did in the beginning.
Rapid fire questions!
- Alpha or beta hero? Beta
- Friends to lovers or enemies to lovers? Friends to lovers
- Favorite heroine of all time? Elizabeth Bennett
- Print book or e-book? Physical copy
10. What does the romance genre mean to you?
To me romance is so empowering. I have learned so much about myself from reading romance like how to better express in words how I’m feeling, how to ask for what I need emotionally, and even how to be a better partner myself.
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