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Photo of Ellen's bookshelf from her bookstagram

The rise of the bookstagram over lockdown

Bookstagrams are literary book accounts which are run over social media. These accounts have been on the rise over the past few years, and particularly due to the UK lockdowns. Zamira Rahim observes the power of social media accounts in a 2019 Independent titled ‘How the #bookstagram movement has changed the way fiction is marketed, reviewed and read’.

To find out more about this trend I reached out to people on the group Gals who Read. The Facebook page is a splinter book club from the group Gals who Graduate. Both pages were founded by the influencer Bronte King. I reached out on the group because I wanted to find out more about bookstagrams, and the readers behind them.

Bookstagrams connect people across the UK and globally with a shared love for reading, and have the potential to create positive communities. First up in my series on UK bookstagrams is @takeabreakbookclubb which is run by Ellen and Melina. The two mates set up a joint books account in November 2020.

Bookstagram spotlight: @takeabreakbookclubb

What’s been your best lockdown read so far, and why?

Where the Crawdads Sing was my favourite book of 2020 so I would have to say that. It was a real form of escapism for me and I could not put it down. Such an unusual story and really well written. I would recommend this book to anyone. I also loved Michelle Obama’s autobiography: Becoming. It really inspired me and it was so interesting to read more about her life and where she came from. I’m not a huge nonfiction reader but I loved this one.

Tell us about the book that began your love for reading.

This would be Looking for Alaska by John Green. It still is one of my favourite books. This book taught me that books could help me escape when I was feeling down or going through something tough. I will never forget reading that book for the first time – it makes me feel nostalgic whenever I read it now.

How long ago did you start your bookstagram account?

So I actually started my bookstagram account this week! However I have a psychology study gram which I used for books beforehand. My friend and I started our book club in November because when we were at uni we wanted to join one. Now we go to different universities and couldn’t join one together, so we decided to create one instead.

What motivates you to post on your books insta?

I like sharing books with people. There is nothing better than a good book recommendation and starting a new book – this is probably my biggest motivation. I also really enjoy taking the pictures and letting my creative side out.

How important are aesthetics with book pictures on insta, and what’s your vibe?

Very important. We like it to be very calming and minimal. We are still figuring out our style to be honest.

Which of your posts has received the most engagement so far?

A photograph of Matt Haig’s book The Midnight Library – I think because it’s such a popular book so the credit really goes to Matt Haig!

How do you navigate your relationship with Instagram and your mental health whilst maintaining a bookstagram account?

I actually find instagram quite a positive place – I tend to unfollow anyone who doesn’t make me feel good. The bookstagram community is so lovely from what I have seen so far so I don’t think there will be many issues with that. Everything in moderation.

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own books account?

Post what makes you happy and follow who makes you happy. It should be something that you enjoy doing and not a chore.

Are there any habits you practice around reading? If so, please share them with us!

I have two: firstly, just read what makes YOU happy, don’t read something just because you think you should. Secondly, turn your phone off 30 minutes before you sleep and pick up your book, this changed my reading habits and I always sleep better because of it! The only other thing I would say is reading is such a good break from studying – I feel I am on my laptop for most of the hours in a day so taking 15 minute breaks to read is a great way to step away from the screen.

Please give the girls a follow @takeabreakbookclubb and support their bookstagram.

Tags: bookstagram, bookstagrammer, facebook, instagram, Matt Haig, social media, Where the Crawdads Sing

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