Welcome back to another edition of Bookstagrammer of the Week!! This week, we spoke to the lovely Basma behind @bookishbasma. The 22-year-old Bookstagrammer has only had her account for two years and has already amassed an audience and many bookish friends that can’t wait to hear her thoughts. We loved getting to learn more about Basma, and we hope you’ll love her too!
Get to Know Basma!
Not only does Basma share her love of books on her Bookstagram, but she also shares her other interests as well! On her stories, you’ll find Basma’s attempts at solving BTS Wordle, her bookstore trips with friends, and cute photos of her cat, Apollo (it just so happens to be his birthday today!).
Where are you from?
I’m from Orlando, FL! I’ve lived smack dab in the middle of theme park central for my entire life.
Fun fact about you:
I actually have a degree in mechanical engineering! That always takes people by surprise!
Oh where to start? I’ve met the most incredible people on Bookstagram (even gone on to meet some in person) and it’s still so surreal to have formed these lasting friendships with people online. Alright, here we go.
A fellow mom friend: @theboricuabookworm
One of the most caring people I know, who puts up with many voice messages of me volcra screeching about books: @mycasadelibros
My Zumra, who’s always there for me:
I wish I could travel halfway across the world to meet her: @malak.writes
And @queenofsobbing who relentlessly spams with me with BTS content, which I love her for.
Let’s Talk Bookstagram
Right when you enter Basma’s Bookstagram profile, you are met with dozens of resources. Her Linktree provides links to donate to multiple different causes as well as codes to use to get discounts on bookish sites. Her Instagram highlights range from templates, live reactions to reading Twilight, and helpful Booksta tips! Make sure to check them all out!!
Why did you start your Bookstagram?
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember! We always had books around growing up and I was definitely a Percy Jackson kid. I actually wanted to start my own book blog when I was 12, it was during the peak of dystopia (also a massive Hunger Games fan) and I wanted a space to talk about my books! However, I never went through with it. Fast forward to 2020, I hadn’t picked up a book that wasn’t required reading since I started high school, and now, 2 years into college and a few months into the pandemic, I decided to revisit my old Goodreads account. And I just started reading again! Eventually, I started seeing Bookstagram posts on my own explore page, and was like “hm maybe I could do this”. One afternoon, I impulsively made an account and the rest is history! I remember telling my mom about it when she had gotten home from work and she had distractedly told me “That’s cool, I hope all your dreams come true”. And here we are.
What do you want your Instagram to bring to the world?
Joy. That sounds a little cliche and maybe a tad far-fetched, but I started my account because I loved books. That’s it. Because I loved books and I wanted to talk about my favorite ones. I use Instagram to express my joy and so if my content makes even one person smile, that’s good enough for me.
What’s Your Special Approach to Content?
A TikToker I follow says this a lot: “I’m my own target audience”. It’s something I’ve started applying to my content. It’s easy to get caught up in all the opinions on social media, and it certainly comes with a lot of pressure. You’ll start second-guessing your work and if it’s “good enough”. Bottom line, if I like my content, it’s going up. I curated my theme and setups to fit what I would want to see, and I make sure I love what I’m posting. Especially for my reels, which can get silly at times, I have a very simple rule: if it makes me laugh, I’m posting it.
What is your aesthetic or Instagram page theme?
I’ve switched it up a few times! You can scroll through and see that in the beginning, I used to switch themes every couple months or so. Now, I’ve settled on a wooden board with colorful flowers theme, with a bright preset! I think this one may be my permanent one, unless I eventually get tired of it. I love the colors and the brightness just works so well with the books. My Instagram feed is a mix of me gushing over books and posting funny reels. I really think you get the most honest version of myself through my Instagram and I love that.
How often do you post?
I’ve now settled into posting daily, with taking Sundays off. Sundays are usually my planning content day so it gives me a nice breather. However, if there’s ever a day where I feel burnt out or maybe just don’t feel like posting, I simply take that day off! I never want my content to feel forced, so I make sure I take breaks when I need them, which usually just end up being one day to myself and then I’m back!
When did you know you had made it as a Bookstagrammer?
Honestly, none of this feels real. I started my account in the midst of the pandemic, filming and taking photos in my bedroom. It’s a little surreal to see the reaction to my content, and it never gets old! However, one specific encounter stands out from this past year and a half. I was at school, back on campus after multiple semesters online and was in the Starbucks line catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen since pre-pandemic. I wasn’t actually in line, just talking to my friend who was in line, so when someone came up, I stepped back and told her she could pass me to get in line. It was then that she looked at me and said “Are you Basma…. From bookishbasma?” I was SPEECHLESS. I hadn’t considered that anyone would recognize me from Instagram (let alone when I was masked up). I think I squeaked when I said “yes”, I was so overwhelmed. Turns out she was a follower of mine and she had even participated in my readalong of the Sands of Arawiya duology (co-hosted with my lovely friend @swords.and.sweets). She went on to tell me how much I had impacted her and got her back into reading and we both ended up crying. It was super emotional and we ended up getting a selfie together! Now that was wild.
What does your Bookstagram mean to you?
Would you believe me if I said I teared up while trying to think of an answer? It means a lot to me. I’ve always been an extremely self-conscious person, and finding a space where I could just be me. Finding mutuals that loved the same things I did, fully expressing myself in ways I would never attempt on my personal accounts, and being granted these incredible opportunities (such as this one) because someone wants to hear what I have to say? There’s no way to accurately express how precious these things are. You know I always say I started my account to talk about my favorite books, and while that’s true, it’s grown beyond that. I sometimes get messages online from other Muslims or other women in STEM or just people in general who’ve found a way to relate to my content, and they’ll tell me how much my account means to them or that they find me inspiring, and I cry. Every time. I always hesitate with these messages because I don’t purposely try to be inspiring or anything, and sometimes I feel undeserving of this kindness (although maybe that’s the imposter syndrome talking). But I’m so humbled to even think that anyone would take time out of their day to type up such a thing for me, and it truly makes my day.
Any advice for aspiring Bookstagrammers?
Ooh I’ve got a ton. First and foremost, stay true to yourself. I say this over and over again. Your content needs to be what YOU want, not what you think will do well. Because if your content feels forced, I promise people can tell. Talk about what you want to talk about, post about the books you love and your passion will come through! I don’t think following a formula or step-by-step process works, you want your followers to see your personality and make friends! Most importantly, as a general rule for being online, is to maintain your boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries! At the end of the day, this is an optional website, we are choosing to be here. If you need a break for a few days, take a break! If you don’t want to post reels, don’t post reels! Your content shouldn’t feel like work, it should be fun!
More Bookish Basma!
Alongside @azantareads, Basma has co-created the Barakah Book Club! According to their profile, the page is “celebrating Muslim voices, one book at a time.” They are currently reading This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi and have a reading schedule and discord for anyone who wants to join in! Be sure to follow their page to receive updates for new announcements, including their Ramadan read!
Favorite Books and Authors:
Ah I could go on for pages for this part, but I’ll (try) to keep it short!
We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal
An Ember in The Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
XOXO by Axie Oh
As for an author, as difficult as this is, I’m going to say Intisar Khanani. I’ve been a massive fan of both Thorn and The Theft of Sunlight since I read them last year. The way Intisar unapologetically writes fiercely strong girls and diverse worlds (which is actually her motto in her Instagram bio) has made her books some of my all time favorites. Recently, I’ve had a chance to work closely with Intisar, as I beta-read her next book and got to interview her for Barakah Book Club, with my co-host, Azanta (@azantareads). Intisar is one of the most friendly, down to earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I love talking to her- her energy is joyous and infectious. She’s so aware of the impact of her writing and takes such care to handle everything with respect. Mashallah she just radiates this noor, this light and I can’t emphasize enough the impact she’s had on me. Not just with her books- although you should definitely go read those right now.
Without hesitation. Nasir Ghameq from We Hunt The Flame. And yes, the author is well aware of this.
How much time do you have? My actual TBR is neverending, because every time I see a new book, I want to read it! Currently though, is A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi and The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala. Also, I’m really looking forward to As Long As The Lemon Trees Grow coming out September 2022, written by my amazing friend, Zoulfa Katouh!
I do a lot of my shopping online but Barnes & Noble is my go-to! Unfortunately, my nearby location shut down so I have to drive a little farther if I want to shop in the store. I also try to shop from indie bookstores when I can! I don’t have a particular favorite, I usually just order from them online, especially when authors do signed copies with them.
What author would you want a selfie with?
Ooh, definitely Zoulfa Katouh (her book releases in September!). We’ve become friends online via our shared love for BTS and books of course, and her fashion sense is magnificent. So I’d get to finally meet my friend AND we’d get a gorgeous selfie out of it.
Lastly, what’s your favorite book cover?
I’m a massive fan of the Skyhunter series covers from Marie Lu! Both the dust jacket and the naked hardcover are GORGEOUS and I would love whoever designed that to design every book cover ever.
To meet last week’s Bookstagrammer of the week, click here!