Arts & Culture News

North Texas Influencers Want To Make Reading Cool Again

Wait, so reading IS fun?  Books are all the rage again.
Wait, so reading IS fun? Books are all the rage again. Syd Wachs/Upsplash
Is it just us, or has the content quality of Instagram significantly declined since the pandemic started? Let’s be honest, we know all our daily screen time reports are skyrocketing, but what are we even looking at on Instagram? It’s not like people are still posting many vacation photos or girls night out pics. Celebrities and influencers have been emitting strange chaotic energy. They have no content. What will they do?

But there is one corner of the internet that is thriving. The bookstagram community.

That’s right, book Instagrams. Bibliophiles around the world are loving all the extra time at home, going on adventures and meeting new people on the daily from the comfort and safety of printed pages. But since this is 2020, this love of books is spilling into the social media world.

Bookstagrammers, as they call themselves, are everywhere posting aesthetically pleasing shots of their latest reads or pictures of their bookshelves, writing detailed reviews for their followers.

Following a bookstagrammer is great for finding your next quarantine read, or simply as a reminder on your feed to put your phone down and pick up a book. Either way, here are some of our favorite bookstagrammers from North Texas.

Megan is a 29-year-old dog lover who has great thriller recommendations. She’s trying to read 90 books this year, and so far she’s at 64.

“Reading is my escape, and I flew through some books," she says. "The [bookstagram] community is truly one of a kind — the connections I’ve made are genuine and true. I’m in a book club here in Dallas with some friends I met through bookstagram; I really felt like bookstagram was my escape during the pandemic, it is my happy little corner of the internet.”

Emily’s favorite book is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Her favorite genres are thriller and romance.

“I’ve been able to hit record reading months thanks to quarantine," she says. "Reading has allowed me to escape what’s going on and just dive into a good book and forget about the craziness outside. Also, bookstagram has provided me with the opportunity to still connect with people similar to me at a time where I can’t meet with my book club in real life.”

Katie is a breast cancer survivor who owns a little free library, a sort of mailbox where passersby can take a book and leave a book.

“With the stresses of COVID-19 many are searching for ways to fill the time or a way to escape from all the unknown," she says. "I’ve been delighted to see so many friends and family reignite their love for reading during this time. Our little free library has had an upsurge in traffic as the libraries stay closed; I myself have turned to comfort reads such as romcoms as opposed to my usual literary fiction and am grateful to have the distraction.”

Elena is on her journey of reading 70 books this year, and is a voice for equality and diversity in the bookstagram world.

“In midst of this quarantine, there is plenty of helplessness, sadness, confusion or even anger," she says. "Some people turn to books to escape the reality, some like to find hope between the lines while others simply read to spend the time...there are countless reasons to opt for reading.

"Whatever the reason is, books are playing an essential role for the society. They wish to be transported to different worlds, where people can release their imagination and learn something from the story.”

Rachel has a unique style when it comes to taking photos of her books. She is on the journey to reading a whopping 110 books this year.

"For me, reading is more than just a distraction," she says. "Through bookstagram, I have been able to find a community of people who love to read just as much as I do. Talking about these books virtually, with both friends and family, has made social distancing easier and helped quarantine feel less lonely.

"During a time when staying home can literally save people’s lives, reading or listening to audiobooks is one of the easiest ways to stay occupied, connect, and focus on something besides the virus.”

Whit calls herself the “Aficionado of the Finest Books.” She is 31 and a great resource for books by Black authors.

“Currently reading during the quarantine has been extremely therapeutic," she says. "Diving into each story has allowed me to forget our 'new normal' for a while. I guess you can call it a type of escapism.”

Jamie is a mother and a blogger whose favorite book is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

“I’m so grateful that reading during quarantine has allowed me to escape these weird times," she says. "While my family and I can’t physically travel, the stories in the books I read take me to new places place making me feel like I’m on vacation. I’m also thankful to be a part of the bookstagram community, my favorite little spot on the Internet.”

Lauren’s book reviews are organized and thoughtful. She is currently reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which is her 57th book this year.

“Reading during quarantine has helped me feel less like the walls of my apartment are closing in on me," she says. "When I start to feel that itch for adventure, it’s right there waiting for me on my shelf. All I have to do is open the page and I’m transported to the streets of Paris, the trenches of WWI, or the cozy home of the March sisters.

"I long for the day when we can travel again, but in the meantime, books can offer us a little taste of that excitement we crave.”

Deb is a bookstagrammer who not only can offer thorough book reviews, but will also bless your feed with her dogs, cats, and horses.

“Reading has always been a huge part of my life, but it gained a new level of importance during quarantine," she says. "I have never been more grateful for the escape books provide than during a time when all our other resources for entertainment evaporated. And the bookstagram community was the icing on the cake. Being able to connect on this platform and discuss reading (and millions of other things) with like minded people was a lifeline.”

Jamele, aka “Jams,” was born and raised in Dallas, and her favorite book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

“As far as what I have been reading during quarantine, I have gravitated towards thrillers and family dramas," she says. "Yes, I’m aware the world is falling apart, but I’m really enjoying the drama, which may or may not say a lot about me. The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Beach Read by Emily Henry, Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, and Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family by Robert Kolker are just a few of my favorites so far.”

Jen is taking her bibliophilia to another level. She just opened a used bookstore in Malakoff, Texas, called Bookish (@bookishcedarcreek).

“At first I thought it would be great with so much time at home to read," she says. "However, I found it difficult to focus and hard to find what I wanted to read. I ended up choosing the classic Rebecca and it was perfect. I also read things out of my typical genre so that helped.”

Emilee says she rates books with feelings because stars stress her out. We get it.

“I have been reading so much more than usual during quarantine, because I can only bake so much before I feel like I'm going to pop," she says. "Plus, when I hit start on my Apple Watch to record my walk workout, I also hit play on an audiobook. I get to log steps and pages together.”

Diana not only shares her love for books on her Instagram, but she also is the co-creator of a book club that shares stories of marginalized voices, called @words.between.worlds.

“When we were first quarantined, I found it difficult to read anything," she says. "Consumed by fear and anxiety, it was hard to grasp anything. I found myself reaching for books that offered me a way to escape our reality albeit a short moment. Thankfully, May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I felt the strong need to pull through and focus on amplifying their voices.

"Throughout the month of May, I read books by Asian authors — fiction, non-fiction and realized though we live in a confusing time, books are my source of comfort and found joy in reading again.”

Sarah is a wife, dog mom and engineer, formerly known as @pitcherperfectbooks.

“During quarantine, reading has been difficult because reading is what I like to do when I get home, and when I'm forced to be at home it isn't as much of a luxury," she says. "So I have been reading a lot more 'easy reads,' like romance novels or fantasy for a distraction. I have actually read more books because I have more time, which was surprising.

"What I have loved is that more people are turning to reading, so my friends are talking about books to me more than ever, which is awesome and has felt really bonding during this time.”
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Isabel Arcellana has been writing for the Observer since spring 2018 and has been creating fake newspapers for her mom since she was 8. She graduated from SMU with a double major in journalism and fashion media. Her five guitars are named after High School Musical characters.

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