Bookish posts

The Complete Guide to #Bookstagram: Getting Started, Taking Pictures, Gaining Followers And Other Advice

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One of my favorite parts of the book community is definitely Bookstagram. What is Bookstagram?  I know, I could hear you asking that question. Basically, Bookstagram is Instagram specifically for books.

You might have a personal instagram where you post pictures of the highlights of your life. The great food you eat, the cute kids you have, the fun parties you go to. Bookstagram is just like that, but we only post pictures of books. Because books are basically our social life. I’m not joking.

Today I’m going to guide you through the world of #Bookstagram. But before we get started, feel free to follow me over at @Books.andrants

Why would you want to use it?

Well obviously because it’s a lot of fun. But if you’re a part of the book community there are also some other benefits. But I still stand by the fact that fun is the main reason to join Bookstagram!

Promotion. Especially if you have a blog of BookTube channel, your bookstagram will be an extension of that. With Instagram stories it has become even easier! See it as a way to broaden your audience and reach people you normally wouldn’t reach.

Artistic expression and inspiration. Not gonna lie, bookstagram inspires me. Some of the people I follow make their pictures so incredibly pretty and it inspires me to try out different ways of creating my own photos, how edit them etcetera. Experimenting is the only way to grow!

Tips before you get started

I know you’re probably dying to post your first photo, but before we get there I want to talk about the things you need to consider before actually filling up that feed!

Pick a username that matches your blog or YouTube channel. Seriously, DO IT. It makes it so much easier for people to find you on instagram if they follow your blog and vice versa. Of course your username might be taken and you have to be a little creative. @Booksandrants was taken (grr!) which is why I have @Books.andrants. I also recommend a name that somehow makes it clear that you are a bookstagram, something with ‘book’, ‘page’ or ‘read’ in the title is always good.

Write a short bio. I know, I know, writing bio’s is the hardest thing ever. But at least put your name, and maybe where you’re from, what genres you like to read, your favorite authors or hobbies. I don’t know, get creative!

Add a link to your blog. You only get one ‘clickable’ link on Instagram (links in photo captions don’t work) so make it count!

Creating your photos

Finally, now it gets REALLY FUN. And also hard. There are a lot of different components to a good bookstagram photo, so let’s go over them one by one.

Your camera: I know what you’re thinking: Dalindcy, I don’t have a fancy ass DSLR camera to take photo’s with, so I will never be a successful bookstagrammer. Wrong. I have a DSLR and I still take half of my pictures with my iPhone 8. Of course your followers like good quality pics, but you do not need a $1000 camera to get there. With some editing, your phone pictures can look gorgeous.

Your aesthetic: you need to decide how you want your photo’s to look. Do you want to do flatlays or not? Lots of color or black and white? Do you want minimalistic photos or not at all. Or do you just not care and do you want to post whatever? There are no rules when it comes to book blogging, but I have noticed that accounts that have a specific ‘theme’ do get more follows. But make it personal!

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Above you can find an example of my feed: No, not all of my pictures are exactly the same, but they do fit together, which brings me to my next point! Continue reading “The Complete Guide to #Bookstagram: Getting Started, Taking Pictures, Gaining Followers And Other Advice”

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Bookish posts

The Pros and Cons of Being a Mood Reader

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Do you ever scroll through your Youtube subscription page or Bookstagram feed at the beginning of the month seeing stacks of books with the caption/title ”This is my Monthly TBR!” And can you just not relate? Is it impossible for you to set a TBR at the beginning of the month and stick to it? Do you always end up reading other books? Congrats, you might just be a mood reader.

I am a huge mood reader and I recognize that it has its ups and downsides, which is what I want to discuss with you today.

Pros of being a mood reader

  • I almost never struggle to choose a book: In my reading routine post I talked about how I’m often already eyeing a few books when I’m about to finish one. Looking at my reading history, I often alternate between different genres because that’s just what I feel like reading. I’ll read a huge fantasy novel and then some light contemporary next.
  • Less DNF’ing: Because I am really in tune with my reading mood, I have a feeling that I know what I’m going to like at that specific moment. Because of that, I don’t often DNF books these days, even though I’m pretty comfortable with it. I almost always pick something that I can personally connect to at that very moment.
  • I read broadly: Not to say that you can’t read broadly if you set monthly TBRs or that this is the case for every mood reader, but because my reading moods are so out there (I’ll feel like reading a classic and a high fantasy or a memoir or whatever) I read very broadly, all the time!

Cons of being a mood reader

  • It’s hard to fit in ARCs: If you like reading a lot of advanced reader copies and you need to have a review up before a specific date, you might hate being a mood reader. If I read a book that I’m not actually in the mood for, it often lowers my enjoyment of that book, and that affects the review. This is why it’s sometimes hard for me to fit in ARCs and I don’t read them as often as I used to. I still really enjoy ARCs from time to time though!
  • My TBR will never end: because I sometimes am not in the mood to read anything on my TBR and I end up buying something else (or getting it from the library). I often end up enjoying that book, and I’m glad I read it even if it wasn’t on my TBR, but it does mean that my TBR shelf doesn’t think out as fast as I’d like to.
  • Mood reading can lead to a slump easily: I do switch around a lot, but if I get into the mood for a specific genre I pick up book after book after book in that genre, or I marathon an entire series. After that, I often get into a slump for that specific genre, or just a reading slump in general. I think mood reading can lead to a slump easily because it’s so easy to burn yourself out on a specific genre or just reading in general. You just feel meh about the genre and nothing excites you.

As we speak, I just finished the shades of magic series by V.E. Schwab and I think I’m kiiinda in a fantasy slump right now, time to pick up some contemporary..

Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of Being a Mood Reader”

Bookish posts

On Sexism And Gender Issues in Fantasy And Science Fiction

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Have you ever started writing something thinking to yourself: ‘yep, I’m definitely opening a giant can of worms with this one’? That’s how I feel right now.

In the last few years I’ve become more interested in science fiction, fantasy and horror, branching out from my usual contemporary YA and historical fiction. Throughout these years I’ve come across a lot of great books and a lot of not-so-great ones.

It’s true that in recent years many SFF authors have been vocal about racism and sexism in their respectable genres – but for every well-written SFF books, there are two awful ones. And when I say awful, I mean sexist in the broadest sense of the word. Not only in science fiction and fantasy, you can find these characters anywhere (Ana Steele and Bella Swan anyone) but I do feel a lot of the problems are manifested in these genres more visible and more often. It’s seems very normalized and not as popular as a discussion topic.

Why don’t we have more stories where the women hold equal footing with men? Where there are as many female characters as male characters, and as many interesting, well-rounded female characters as male characters? Why are women often queens, duchesses, or else over-fantasized warriors with impractical clothing whose main characteristic seems to be just how badass they are, despite usually being heavily reliant on a man in a romantic sense? 

Rape in SFF
There is something about SFF that makes these gender issues inherently visible to me. Rape is very overdone in sci-fi and fantasy, and often used as a plot device. We see rape scenes when men need to assessed their dominance and women need to be considered weak. We see rape when we need a reason to hate a character and we see attempted rape when the author needs to let his or her audience know that the female character is indeed capable of protecting herself.

It’s not that we should never discuss or feature this subject matter, in my opinion it has its place in every genre, but when it’s used as a plot device it reinforces the idea that women can never be the equal to men because most men will never have to worry about the threat of rape unless they go to jail. It reinforces the idea that forcing someone to have sex with you makes them weak and you strong. Rape is a serious subject matter and I’ve seen it too often used to just squeeze a few tears out of the readers or to show that a bad guy is really bad. Let alone the times where I’ve read about rape and then the wrongness of it was never called out. 

Letting go of the strong female character
I think we focus too much on strong female characters in books. Especially in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, female characters are either strong, independent (and often very boyish because how can you be a strong and feminine, right?) or weak and submissive. It’s very black and white, like there is no grey.  Continue reading “On Sexism And Gender Issues in Fantasy And Science Fiction”

Bookish posts · personal

My Reading Routine: Picking a Book, Actually Reading And my Review Process

I love reading about other people’s reading routines, or watching videos about them. So I thought I’d share my own!

Picking what I read
I know a lot of people have set monthly TBRs, but I’m actually a huge, HUGE mood reader. I’ve tried the whole monthly TBR thing, but I never really stick to it. I’ll be in a contemporary mood at the beginning of the month, only to dive into fantasy halfway through and then I just want to binge on that genre, until I burn out on it and move onto the next thing.

I have a shelf with almost all the books I have yet to read (or want to reread). It’s kind of a mixed bag: non-fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, classics, etcetera. When I finish a book, I’n often already eyeing one or two books on this shelf I’ll want to pick up next. When it’s time to pick up the next book, I browse, pick up a few books, maybe read the first page or so and then I decide what I actually want to pick up.

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When I’m reading
On a good day, my reading can start at 6 or 7AM. That is, I wake up early after a good sleep and I feel like picking up my book. When that happens, usually a few times a week, I make myself a cup of coffee and prop my pillow up against my bed.

After I’ve gotten ready in the morning, I pick my book up as soon as I get to the bus stop. I have an hour commute to and from college every single day, and I always read, while listening to music or white noise with my phone. I’ve come to really appreciate this time for reading. Before I started doing this, I considered my public transport time to be stressful, and ‘wasted’, now I actually look forward to it.  Continue reading “My Reading Routine: Picking a Book, Actually Reading And my Review Process”

Bookish posts · personal

Why I Love my Ugly & Beat up Books

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There are a lot of aesthetically pleasing, pristine looking books out in the world. Some people get very passionate about keeping their books is amazing shape. And I get it, because I used to be exactly like that. Never breaking spines, dog-earing writing on the pages.

But I did a complete 180 on that front. It’s not like I deliberately ruin my books, but I completely stopped caring about ‘keeping them pristine’. It made me stressed and sometimes even pulled me out of the story. Today, a beat up book means a well-loved book for me.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this subject for a while now, but I was quite hesitant. The reasons is that on BookTube and in the book blogging community, I constantly see people judging others for how they treat their books. People leaving hate comments on videos of my favorite BookTubers because they fold the corners of their own books, or drop a book on the floor at the end of a video. Of course, if you want to keep your books pristine, go ahead, it’s your book, but don’t judge others for not doing the same thing!

In my opinion, books are meant to be read. To be enjoyed. To be devoured. And I enjoy the experience more when I don’t keep my books pristine. For me, my most ragged books are also my most loved ones.

My copy of The Shadow of The Wind has coffee spilled on one of the pages, dirt on the edges and the color of the cover is wearing off on one side, because that’s where I’ve rested the book while reading it. I put tabs in the places of my favorite quotes, and often go back to them.

My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has writing on the first page, because I wrote down what date I got it. (I was eleven, my mom bought it for me for Christmas). I love that I wrote that down, and now cherish that memory. It also has lots of page folds in it from all the times I’ve read it. One time I accidentally dropped it while I fell asleep reading it in the middle of the night, and there is now forever a crease in the book to remind me of that. And I love that.

My beat up books are my most loved books, and I like it that way.

Bookish posts

Why I Dislike Most Young Adult Books: A Discussion on Reading Taste And How it Changes

reading less YA

I’ve contemplated blogging about this subject because I know how loved Young Adult fiction* is in the book blogging community and BookTube. And for good reason.

The Young Adult genre (books written for a target audience between 12 and 18 years old) is loved by many people of all ages, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have loved Young Adult books ever since I was a kid and even now, some of my all-time favorite series and standalone’s belong to the Young Adult genre – I’m rereading the Lunar Chronicles as we speak!

But picking up new Young Adult books, they rarely speak to me in the way they used to. I recently picked up  They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera, and although I liked it, I didn’t love it.  This is happening with a lot of Young Adult novels I read these days. I do not enjoy them the way I used.

This doesn’t mean that YA novels have gotten worse – it’s actually the other way around in my opinion, they only get better and better! More diverse, dealing with more serious issues and focusing on all parts of teenage life. But I don’t connect to them the way I used to. When I finish a Young Adult novel, I’m often left wanting more of the story. More world building, more complex prose and multi-layered plots. That’s something I don’t often find in Young Adult novels. The Young Adult books that I love, are all books I read when I was a few years younger.

Looking at the books I loved in the past year or so, there is not one Young Adult novel included. I got older, and naturally I’ve kind of drifted away from Young Adult books, because I wasn’t enjoying them in the same way I was before. Looking at the 29 unread books I currently have on my TBR shelf, there are not YA books on it. I haven’t bought any in a while now.

My reading taste is changing. That’s a little bit scary, especially because many of the book discussed in the book community online are YA, and that might mean that I won’t ‘fit in’ as much. But at the same time it can open doors, both in my reading life and on my blog!

I will definitely still enjoy the occasional Young Adult book, but it hasn’t been that big of a part of my reading for a while now. I’ve discovered Adult fiction, memoirs, nonfiction  and more. And I’m really excited to tell you more about all the books I’m loving. 🙂

*I know there has been a lot of discussion about if Young Adult fiction is really a genre in itself or more just an age bracket. In my opinion, lots of Young Adult books have similar plot points, writing style and recurring themes, which is why I’m discussing it as a genre here. 
Bookish posts

The 1,000 Page Brick: How to Deal With Big And Intimidating Books

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I love big books and I cannot lie. It’s true, I’m one of those people that prefers huge, big books over short books. I love completely immersing myself in a world and getting to know all the details about it. But I will also be the first to admit that big books can be daunting. They’re a commitment, and because of that we often don’t feel like it’s the right time and we should be in the perfect mindset to read them.

I think this is where we go wrong. Over the years, I’ve come to the realization that it’s never going to be the right time to read that one specific book. What is the perfect mood to read IT by Stephen King? Is there even a mood for books like that?

Instead, I divide up my huge books now. I usually ‘sandwich’ my big books between two shorter books, sometimes nonfiction. I find that if I read a short book, I often crave a longer, more intense story. But then after I’ve finished the book, I read something completely different and almost always lighthearted. Poetry is also good. Just anything to switch it up!

Something else I do is that whenever I decide to start reading a big, daunting book, I give myself the time to read as much as I can in the first sitting. Big books often have a lot of worldbuilding and other introductory stuff at the beginning, so it’s good to get it out of the way asap. Not that worldbuilding isn’t fun, but if you stop in the middle of it, it might be hard to pick the book back up.

Then, if I feel sluggish in the middle of the book, I let myself put it down for a bit and read a short novel(la) or short story just to mix things up. Big books sometimes struggle with pacing so it can be a challenge to stay engaged! If you panic, divide it up! A 1,000 page novel can look super daunting, but reading 30 pages a day doesn’t have to be.