Into the Wonderous World of Bookstagram With Stunning Bookstagrammer Esther!

This Bookstgrammer of the Week features the wonderful Esther, @estherfungreads! Read on to discover the power behind her profile!

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Collage of photos from @estherfungreads' Bookstagram. The background is shades of white with book page graphics.

Each Bookstagram is unique and powerful in its own special way, and it’s all the more true for this week’s Bookstagrammer, Esther! Bringing a fresh take to the Bookstagrammer game, Esther uses her platform to celebrate the voices of underrepresented authors and empower other Bookstagrammers. She fosters a community whose bookish habits forge bonds and unity across the world. In this interview, we get to know the person behind @estherfungreads and are gifted with spectacular recommendations, fun facts, and some bookish indulgences!

Photo of Bookstagrammer Esther of @estherfungreads reaching for a book on a bookstore's shelf. She has a tote bag from The Strand. She is wearing a white blouse and yellow plaid skirt.

Esther of @estherfungreads

Instagram | TikTok

Thank you for joining us! Let’s start the interview!

Where are you from?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, which explains my love for bubble tea, minced pork rice, and beef noodle soup. When I was seven, my family and I immigrated to Chester County, Pennsylvania. I came to Virginia to attend the College of William and Mary and fell in love with the state. Now, I live in northern Virginia with my husband and our dog, Tofu.

What do you want your Instagram to bring to the world?

I’ve loved stories from a young age. But growing up as an Asian immigrant who loved to read, I didn’t see a lot of models in the books I was reading or the authors on the back covers of those books. Having grown up with this lack of representation, I work hard to highlight works by authors of color, especially books by the Asian diaspora, on my Bookstagram account. I want visitors to my account to see that everyone’s stories deserve to be told. Most recently, I reviewed How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu and Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America by Julia Lee.

Five stacks of books, sorted by color, taken from a top angle.

In addition, I also create a lot of content about how to grow and monetize your Bookstagram. For example, two topics I recently talked about are the most common mistakes Bookstagrammers make, according to Meta, and why book review posts don’t perform well (and why that doesn’t matter). Growth is not a zero-sum game, and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned with others in the community.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I once filmed a short TikTok video about diversifying the books we teach in schools. It was 2020 when I was still really new to TikTok, and it was just a quick thought that I wanted to get off my chest. So I filmed it right after a workout when I was super sweaty and had no makeup on. And that video, with sweaty, gross me ended up being shared by Lana Condor.

Who are your favorite Bookstagrammers?

I both love and hate this question. I love it because there are so many amazing Bookstagrammers with impeccable taste, and I hate it because it’s impossible to mention everyone I love. But here are some people that come to mind:

  • Morgan (@prettylittlebookshelf) is the DC-area book girl. She has her own book club, is always reading fascinating historical fiction books by authors of color, and regularly hosts cool events like book swaps in Washington, DC. Even if you’re not local to the area, she’ll light up your feed (and is a gem to get lunch with).
  • Kristin (@ktlee.writes) is someone who has single-handedly doubled the size of my TBR. She is always reading the most interesting books, and I know that she will never ever steer me wrong. In addition, she is such a thoughtful and kind human, and I’m grateful to know her.
  • Jill (@booknerd_reads) is the soft girl princess of Bookstagram, and she has amazing takes on books. I’ll never forget when she told me that Happy Place by Emily Henry is a modern-day version of Persuasion by Jane Austen. (She isn’t wrong.) I’m on team Jill forever.
  • Hannah (@hanpickedbooks) and I have known each other for a long time, and I’m always blown away by how she reads everything. Her range is huge, but the quality of her book reviews never dips. It’s not easy to be such a versatile reader, but Hannah makes it look effortless.

What are your favorite books, and who are your favorite authors?

Stacked white bookshelves with knick knacks dispersed throughout. A plant hangs from the top of the shelf. To the left is a white organized desk with a black lamps and orange water bottle.

My favorite book ever is Persuasion by Jane Austen. Anne Elliot is an absolute gem of a main character, and no one can do a slow-burn romance like Miss Austen. Plus, Wentworth’s letter will always be iconic. Other books that I love are Babel by R.F. Kuang, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan.

What’s on your TBR List?

My TBR has over 350 books because I am absolutely delusional about what is realistic. But my physical TBR (books I own that I haven’t read yet) is only about 100 titles. Some books on my physical TBR that I hope to read this year are Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura, A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, and Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Queen Liliʻuokalani.

What’s your aesthetic / Instagram page theme?

I wasn’t sure how to put it into words, so I actually asked my followers. The most common responses can be combined as “clean and airy light academia.”

Who would you have supply you with a lifetime of books?

On a white cloth, a hand holds The Ladies Rewrite the Rules by Suzanne Allain. Framing the book are a tote bag, a rubber case shaped like boba tea, highlighters and annotation tabs whose colors match the purple and pink color scheme of the book.

Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore in Washington DC, has a book subscription service, and two years ago, my best friend bought me six months of that service for my birthday. It was incredible. I filled out a survey for them so they could get a sense of what books I like, and I ended up loving every book they sent me. The book that stands out to me the most was Brotherless Night, which I mentioned above as one of my all-time favorite books. So, if I could have someone supply me with a lifetime of books, it would be whoever was running that subscription service.

When did you know you had made it as a Bookstagrammer?

I don’t know what it means to “make it” as a Bookstagrammer, to be honest. As long as I am able to share books I love and connect with other readers, I’m happy. But a really cool experience I was blessed to have recently was to be a panel speaker at this year’s London Book Fair. Léa (@loverofpages) and I talked all about how online spaces like Bookstagram and BookTok are creating the next generation of readers, and it was incredible to talk about something I’m passionate about with authors, creators, and publishers.

Any advice for aspiring Bookstagrammers?

It’s normal to feel nervous or even scared to start, but don’t let your nerves stop you. You do not need to get everything right from the beginning. Grab your camera and some books, and just start creating. Like anything else, content creation is a skill that will develop over time.

A white desk against a beige wall. A white computer monitor is placed in the center, showing an aesthetic image of a mug of tea on a bed with flower stems. Books, notebooks, pens, and speakers are organized neatly on the desk. An orange water bottle and black lamp sit on one end, and a vase of white flowers are on the other end. A framed photo hangs on the left wall, and bookshelves are on the right.

In terms of practical, actionable steps, I always recommend brainstorming three to five niches within Bookstagram that you’re passionate about and creating posts that target those niches. You can always change your niche later on; I was a classics-only account when I first started, and now I’m very much not that. Post three to five times a week consistently for at least six weeks. Then, look at your insights, reflect on your experiences, and identify what you liked and didn’t like. Take all that you’ve learned, and go from there.

Any additional bookishness?

I am on the marketing team for PangoBooks, an app that lets readers open their own bookstores from home and shop each other’s bookshelves. I handle all of our social accounts, blog, and email newsletters, in addition to other projects. I feel really lucky to get to work with books all day and to be part of a company that is making book buying more affordable and sustainable.

Thank you to Esther for sharing her invaluable insights! Be sure to follow Esther on Instagram and TikTok, and you will love her and her content!

To discover more Bookstagrammers, click here!

To browse Esther’s recommendations and more, click here!