Hey, hey! We’re back with another installment of our Bookstagrammer of the Week! As November is recognized as Native American Heritage month, we’re giving our platform to some fantastic Indigenous creators that you should keep an eye out for. This week we talked with Dani of @dh.trujillo about the importance of representation and all things Bookstagram.
By now, our frequent readers probably know whats coming next! If you’re new though, never fear, I’m here to explain everything! Every week we reach out to a different Bookstagram account that we just can’t get out of our head. We ask them everything from what it’s like to run a popular Bookstagram account to their thoughts on particular topics. So Dani, let’s start off easy, shall we?
You clearly have a passion for reading! When did you first get into reading?
Does infancy count? My mom and grandma are huge readers, I’ve been reading as long as I can remember. I definitely fell off during college with so much technical reading, but now that I’ve settled into my career it has been amazing getting back into reading – especially sharing it with the whole community on Bookstagram. I even read a lot as part of my job so, I’m in it for life.
From our many talks with different Bookstagrammers we know that running a Bookstagram account isn’t for the faint of heart! And while this might be true, we also know that the vast majority of them are started out of a genuine joy for reading!
Why did you end up starting your Bookstagram, @dh.trujillo? What does your account mean to you?
I started it in the New Year of 2021. At the time, it was just a fun way to find new books and tell people about my thoughts and current reads. Now, it is a huge network of friends and we all just happen to enjoy reading. I even had some family finding occur, a fellow Bookstagrammer noticed my name and turns out we are distant cousins! I also love how many incredible book clubs are run by Bookstagrammers!
My close friend Paz hosts an awesome virtual book club, @hay.libros.en.la.casa, and it is so fun to have virtual meetings with so many other Bookstagrammers. I hope that my space on Instagram is welcoming and that everyone can feel a sense of belonging. I read critically and for fun and for escapism, all types of reading are valid and have a space on my account.
Alright, so we did talk to Dani specifically about topics involving Indigenous and Native American culture. Dani, proud of her heritage as both a Xicana and NDN, was more than happy to indulge us! And if you’re wondering, NDN is short for Native Indian (don’t worry, new phrases are part of opening yourself up to learning).
For those who are starting to diversify their bookshelves, who are some of your favorite Indigenous or Native American authors?
My absolute favorite has to be Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet). He’s so atmospheric and really wraps you up inside the story with him. I recently read Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling (Bitterroot Salish) and completely fell in love with her writing. Her words set up camp in my heart and I think of them often. When I read her book it felt so immersive that I thought, “I hope I can write this uniquely one day.” I’m currently reading Erika T. Wurth’s debut White Horse and I am really enjoying her novel. I’m from Colorado, and everytime I read her book I feel like I am there. Just incredible.
And on that same note, which books would you recommend for their accurate or positive representation of Indigenous characters?
Really the most important thing is to seek Indigenous authored stories. We are an incredibly vast people, numbering multi-millions and spread throughout continents and islands. No one knows us better than ourselves. No one can tell our stories the way we can. One of my favorite fiction reads that I’ve really resonated with is Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Ojibwe). Daunis is a very complex character and Boulley explores so many contemporary NDN issues in the novel, such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, substance abuse, and poverty. Her novel is exciting and perfect for those who want to learn a little about our culture, but aren’t interested in nonfiction.
What do you hope to one day see more of within Indigenous literature?
Joy. A lot of published works have strong dark elements and themes– which is great, but I also want to see us in light, fluffy novels too. I want to read cute holiday romances, teens going on quests, people growing and finding themselves in the world and within their community. We deserve to be able to read about characters and scenarios we relate to other than our shared trauma.
I can see the change coming swiftly, however. I have an ARC right now for a Indigenous fantasy, and I myself am working on a contemporary romance. I’m so excited to see what new books and genre types hit the market in the coming years. The demand for Native-made media has become so visible thanks to social media so having shows like Rez Dogs and books like Firekeeper’s Daughter and White Horse are only the beginning. I can’t wait to see what worlds we can explore.
Like I mentioned before, running a Bookstagram account is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! But once you get into a groove, things do tend to run smoother. Becoming a successful Bookstagrammer, such as yourself, is hard for people just starting out.
What advice do you have for aspiring Bookstagrammers?
Comment! Tell people if you also loved the book, or if it is on your TBR, or if you love their photo. The more you interact the more friends you can make. The community is so welcoming and inclusive, do not be shy to interact!
We just have two final questions for Dani and then our time will be up, unfortunately!
So Dani, what’s on your TBR right now?
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns! Releasing 1/10/2023 I can’t wait to read her work.
As always, we love ending our Bookstagrammer of the Week interviews by asking:
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I am obsessed with Baby Yoda and I cook dinner like I’m on Chopped.
We had a blast and a half talking with Dani this week about NDN culture and literature! Be sure to head on over to her Insta page to check out her golden-tinged photos! It’s like stepping into a 70s light academia wonderland, just good vibes all around.
Wanting more Bookstagrammer of the Week articles? Check out our previous feature here!