It’s time for another Bookstagrammer of the week! Each week, we here at Bookstr feature and creator who is sharing their love of books with the bookstagram community via incredible book photos. Today, we’re featuring Bookstagrammer @honeybuttergal. She keeps her feed minimalistic and incorporates bright natural light to make her book photos stand out. Check out the full interview below where she gives some great tips about being motivated to read, bookstagram, and social media.
Why did you start your Bookstagram?
Some of my earliest memories are curling up in my family’s living room with a stack of library books. As a shy kid who moved a lot, reading was often a source of comfort and a window into places I could only imagine visiting. When I wasn’t reading, it probably meant I was writing. Journal entries, high school newspaper columns, slightly questionable fan fiction – it didn’t matter as long as I had a blank page and a few minutes of free time. This love of reading and writing slowly morphed over the years into short book recommendations for friends and family members until I started my Instagram in February 2020.
Where are you from?
A Midwesterner by birth and Texan by upbringing, I have a strange, generic American accent that complements my sense of adventure, love of travel, and self-exploration. I currently live in Vancouver, British Columbia with my husband, who is from the area.
What do you want your Instagram to bring to the world?
I’ve always been someone who loves reading, but I find that isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s not always because they don’t want to read. Some of my friends or people I’ve met through my account talk about how they would love to read more, but they view it as a chore. Those comments make me sad, but they don’t surprise me. Most people are introduced to reading through school, where it is a forced activity that requires detailed analysis and counts for a grade.
I want to show people through my Instagram and my blog that reading can be fun as an adult and that it doesn’t require as much time as people think it does. You don’t need to block off long stretches of time to read. If you can only squeeze in 15 minutes before bed instead of looking at your phone, that’s still 15 minutes of reading – multiple that by 30 days, and that’s a little over eight hours of reading in one month that you found in your schedule.
Fun Fact about you:
When I’m not reading, I’m probably cooking or baking. I’ve been in the kitchen (with adult supervision!) since I was around four or five. I took cooking lessons throughout elementary school and probably watched more Food Network than cartoons growing up.
I have so many favorites and am sorry if I leave anyone out, but some that immediately come to mind are:
Favorite Books and Authors:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Severance by Ling Ma
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Emma by Jane Austen
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Cross Sugarman from Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. Prep is one of my favorite coming-of-age novels. I’ve read it every summer since I was 12 and always end up learning something new about myself during each re-read. Cross is the embodiment of every boy I had a crush on throughout high school: popular, athletic, objectively handsome, surprisingly kind one-on-one. However, much like Lee, I never had much luck in the boy department during high school. If only I had gone to a boarding school…
I have too many titles on my TBR! Some new releases that I’m trying to prioritize are:
The Performance by Claire Thomas
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton
First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
What’s your special approach to content?
I try to introduce my audience to titles and authors they are unfamiliar with. That often means non-fiction, memoirs, and debut literary fiction from women and POC authors.
Aesthetic / Instagram page theme:
I like bright, clear photos with little to no props. If the book I’m featuring isn’t the main focus, I don’t post those photos. That means that a lot of my photos are very minimalistic. I usually shoot my photos at a few locations in my apartment that are closest to natural light: my duvet cover, a floral rug, or against a white wall in my bedroom.
How often do you post?
I usually post every day or every other day, but I try not to take it too seriously. There are some days where I don’t feel like writing a caption and taking a photo – so I don’t.
What does your Bookstagram mean to you?
Bookstagram has helped me discover new books and authors I wouldn’t have otherwise read and has been a great way to meet people – both IRL and online – to talk about books, board games, baking, and more. I love this community and how everyone is so supportive.
Ah, I have so many! Before I moved to Vancouver, I lived in New York for a few years. There are so many bookstores; I felt spoiled and definitely took my easy access to them for granted. Books Are Magic is probably my favorite. I love the store’s design and its carefully curated selection of books. As a Texan, I also have to proudly proclaim my love of Half Price Books and their Northwest Highway location in Dallas, and its our version of the Strand. It’s 55,000 square feet of pure heaven in the form of new and gently used books.
Who would you have supply you with a lifetime of books?
Emma Roberts and the crew at Belletrist always pick great selections each month, including many that are already on my radar, so I think that’s a safe bet.
Author to take a selfie with:
Favorite book cover:
I’m not sure if I have an absolute favorite, but some covers that I’ve loved recently are:
Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Book you have claimed to have read that you didn’t?
The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was an early Tumblr girl back in the late 2000s/early 2010s and thought I was so edgy (hint: I wasn’t). I’d like to eventually read it one day, but I’m not in any rush.
When did you know you had made it as a Bookstagrammer?
Last May, I had just crossed the 1,000 follower mark, but as of March 2021, I have close to 12,000 followers. I never anticipated this tiny corner of the internet to expand as much, or as quickly, as it did. I don’t think I’ve made it, per se, because growth has never been the goal for me – I just want to connect with people and chat about books. I’m not a technophobe, but I try to limit my screen time to less than two hours a day. I think I realized things had changed when I could no longer respond to each comment and message without feeling like I was spending half of my morning on my phone. After the account reached about 8,000 followers, that approach was no longer sustainable. I now try to dedicate certain blocks of my time to make sure I am still engaging with and meeting new people, but having to take that step back to reevaluate was definitely huge.
I don’t watch much TV or follow a franchise that has a big fandom.
Advice for aspiring Bookstagrammers:
Your mental health is more important than a grid. Seriously. You know it, I know it, but sometimes that message can get lost in the day-to-day. I try to protect my sanity by limiting my social media usage to only a few times a day. Sometimes that means I’m not always the most active or as responsive as I feel I *need* to be, but then I remember that the only person enforcing those rules is me.
Life’s too short to actively spend time on something you dislike. If you’re not connecting with a book, you don’t have to keep reading it. There aren’t book enforcers who are going to pop up in your living room if you don’t finish a book.
Stop caring about what other people think and just be yourself. I know from experience that it’s often easier said than done, but if you can truly let go of putting so much value on other people’s opinions, the sky’s the limit. I’ve tried a variety of blogging and Instagram over the years. All of these versions failed because I tried to be something or someone I wasn’t. Once I let go of what I thought I needed to do, I finally found something that I actually enjoyed.
Know your boundaries. You know what feels right and what your limits are. You don’t need to explain or justify them to anyone.
In addition to my Instagram page, I recently launched a blog that includes longer book reviews and personal essays.
Featured Image via @honeybuttergal