Welcome to Part 3 of my Sunday Morning Book Chats series, where each Sunday morning I sit down with a different bookstagrammer to talk about life, books, and how they got started. Our first guest was Alison from @littlebookwormig, last week we had Saoirse from @xleptodactylous, and this week we have the lovely Ani from @boundless_being!
The General Questions
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been on bookstagram for, and what you like to do when you’re not reading books, photographing books, or just generally thinking about books.
I was born in Armenia, raised in Russia and grew up in Los Angeles, California. I have a strong fascination with different languages, history and international relations — enough to seriously entertain the idea of a PhD and stay as close as possible to the academic world. Books have always been a constant in my life — from the time I picked up my first books as a child (Jane Eyre and Dumas’ series) to now and hopefully always. Though I always have a book in my purse and want to squeeze in as much reading as possible throughout the day, I have recently discovered the beauty of yoga. Practicing it a few hours a week does wonders to the heart and mind. I really enjoy close-knit conversations over tea, cozy dinners and Christopher Nolan / Martin Scorsese films. I’ve spent a lot of time watching interviews, am a Charlie Rose fan and am simultaneously a kid at heart and an old soul.
2. How did you discover the bookstagram community, and what you made you decide to start your own account?
I discovered the bookstagram community at a bit of a low point in my life last year when I was feeling unfulfilled with the job I had back then. I needed an outlet outside my daily routine that would allow me to engage in meaningful exchanges and stimulating conversations about books, worldviews and other interesting topics with people who valued such things. Creating my account was a very spur of the moment decision, but it felt like I was discovering something that would quickly become quite special. I was able to chronicle books that I found interesting in ways that allowed me to dabble in creativity and my admiration for aesthetic and design. I had no idea bookstagram was such a large community full of vibrant ideas and heartwarming, friendly and kind individuals from all over the globe. It truly erodes all language / cultural / prejudiced barriers we tend to see elsewhere in our society nowadays.
3. In all your time on bookstagram, are there any moments in particular that stand out to you or any experiences you’ve had because of bookstagram that you’re particularly grateful for?
I’m grateful for being part of the bookstagram community and for finding such a welcoming group of people — it’s a gratefulness that does not escape me throughout the day. There are many moments that have elicited smiles, but one that stands out in particular occurred just today when a Bookstagram friend likened two Russian authors – Pushkin and Chekhov – to Mozart and Schubert, respectively, in relation to a photo/caption I had posted. What beauty in such conversations and sharing of opinions!
A Bit More Specific…
1. Are you the type of person who likes to read multiple books at a time, or do you like to pick up one book and stick with it until you’ve finished it?
Ideally, I would like to be the type of person who can pick up only one book and finish it before hopping over to the next one. Unfortunately, I’ve developed the habit of leaving books unfinished before starting new ones. I’m not particularly fond of doing this, but alas, I feel there’s a sense of urgency — too many books and not enough time 🙂
2. What are you currently reading, and what books are you excited to start reading soon?
Current reads include Alain de Botton’s new book, Course of Love, along with Seneca, Sartre’s Nausea, and Chekhov’s short stories. Yes, quite the mix!
I’ve been looking forward to starting the works of Joan Didion and Simone de Beauvoir, though I don’t know which specific titles to pick up — open to recommendations!
3. On a scale of 1-10, how intimidating is your TBR pile?
Oh my gosh, I’ll go with 7. I have a huge-huge-huge pile on my desk. My writing space on my desk has literally dropped to perhaps half the size of my notebook because of all the books piled along. I have another stack on the floor in my bedroom near my bookshelves (a quirk: I don’t like placing books I have not read yet / haven’t finished on the shelves). And there are books that can be found in random corners and centers and tables and under tables everywhere around the house.
4. Who are your go-to authors?
Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
5. You’re hosting a tea party and you can invite three famous people, either living or dead. Who do you invite and why?
Alain de Botton, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Christopher Hitchens. Botton because he is so so so eloquent, very knowledgeable and pleasant to talk to from what I’ve gathered of the interviews I’ve seen. I imagine a very lively and colorful discussion that touches on every topic. I’m a huge fan of Dostoevsky. His writing has so much depth – I’d be curious to see what he was like in person. Christopher Hitchens was a very controversial person and loved playing the part of the contrarian – I think it’d be fun to have him as a guest anywhere, as it’d surely be a unique experience no one else would be able to replicate.
6. Let’s talk about reading slumps: do you get them, and if you do, how do you get yourself out of them?
I start writing, realize how much I suck – which does wonders for motivation to read – and slide back into reading.
7. What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – Sharpest dissection of human nature.
- Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky – Great when you’re trying to get out of some sort of slump.
- The Stranger by Albert Camus – Best last paragraph of a book.
- Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu – Apt aphorisms.
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Poetic beauty of language and emotions
8. I know how bookstagrammers love a good literary quote, particularly for the captions of their photos, so can you share one of your favorite literary quotes with us?
“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.” – Christopher Hitchens
Speed Round! What is your favorite…
Movie? So many! One of them is How to Steal a Million
Reading Spot? Hammock
Ice cream flavor? Chocolateeeee
Song? The Eagles’ Hotel California
Fictional Character? I can’t pick just one!
Thank you so much for joining us on Sunday Morning Book Chats! Before you go, do you have any tips for anyone looking to start their own bookstagram account?
Connect with others — comment, share your impressions and opinions, be receptive, follow back accounts that interest you, maintain connections, develop friendships, be creative.