Welcome to Part 4 of my Sunday Morning Book Chats series, where each Sunday I sit down and chat with bookstagrammers about life, the universe and everything (okay, not quite, but you get the idea!). We’ve had three parts so far – Alison from @littlebookwormig, Saoirse from @xleptodactylous, and Ani from @boundless_being – and this week I’m very excited to welcome the lovely Jennifer from @thetirelessreader! 🙂
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’m originally from the Philippines but have been living in Singapore since 2004. I started my bookstagram account in February 2015 (and haven’t looked back since!). Aside from my literary pursuits, I enjoy going to the gym and travelling.
2. How did you discover the bookstagram community, and what you made you decide to start your own account?
Before I joined bookstagram, I was already posting a lot of bookish photos on my personal Instagram account, but because I don’t have very many reader friends, I think I just end up annoying my friends and family. So I decided to create a dedicated bookish account. The response from the community was so encouraging and engaging that I became instantly hooked with the community.
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 think many of us bookstagramers start our account because we don’t have very many bookish friends in real life. We have so many things we want to share and say about our reading life, the books we love, the books we hate, the books we are currently reading but ewe don’t have any listeners in real life (at least this is my experience), so for me, being able to share and meet people with the same amount of passion for books and the reading life, that is the best and most memorable bookstagram experience. A couple of other highlights: In December, I went back to the Philippines for my Christmas holidays and I went for a small Pinoy bookstagram community meet-up. It’s the first time we’ve met, but because it felt so natural to talk to each other. Basically, these are the kinds of dinner discussions I’ve been longing for – to just talk about books without feeling self-conscious that you’re boring other people blabbing on about your favourite classics. In October, I participated in my first Dewey’s 24-hour readathon and it was so awesome to participate and do updates via bookstagram. It was good to see readers around the world encouraging each other as we read through the night.
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?
I’m a book monogamist. Ha! I could never keep up with reading multiple books at a time.
2. What are you currently reading, and what books are you excited to start reading soon?
I am currently reading Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek. She’s an author I discovered last year and I love how she portrays domestic life and familial relationships in her novels. I promised myself I’ll try to read all of her novels. So when I saw a copy from 1951 at a charity shop in Oxford, I snapped it up. (I may also have done a little happy dance.) I just recently posted my tbr for the next 3 months. I am super excited to pick up Stoner by John Williams as I only heard good things about it. I am buddy-reading The Odyssey with @pagesandplays. This is the first time I will be reading it in prose. I will also attempt (my second) to read Mrs Dalloway as it’s the book club book this summer on The Happy Reader.
3. On a scale of 1-10, how intimidating is your TBR pile?
Hmmm…I would say about 7. I don’t keep count but I have definitely less than 100 unread books in my shelves.
4. Who are your go-to authors?
Edith Wharton and Margaret Atwood.
5. You’re hosting a tea party and you can invite three famous people, either living or dead. Who do you invite and why?
I would have to repeat the two ladies I’ve mentioned above. I think both of them are full of spunk. Edith Wharton I’m sure would have amazing travel stories and anecdotes about her famous friends (particularly Henry James) and Margaret Atwood can talk about anything – she’s amazing! The third person, though I am not his biggest fan, but I’ve seen some interviews of YouTube of Michel Faber and I was just so touched about how incredibly honest and emotional his interviews are.
6. Let’s talk about reading slumps: do you get them, and if you do, how do you get yourself out of them?
Yes, I get reading slumps. When I do get them, I usually try to read an old favourite (Persuasion is usually a good one!) or I just don’t read at all and watch booktube videos hoping to be inspired to pick up a book again.
7. What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
- Middlemarch by George Eliot – I’ve put off reading this because it’s so well-respected but after reading it last year, I now realise why this work is so well-regarded. George Eliot created characters that are fully formed and richly layered without making poor caricatures out of them. In my humble opinion, the depth and breadth of Middlemarch makes it the best novel ever written.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – I love classics and when people hear that, they think classics are all “serious and academic (and boring!)”. But, Madame Bovary shows that a classic isn’t dry or boring and can be deliciously scandalous!
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – It chillingly depicts how a theocratic society subjugates women and reduces us into nothing more than functions. The scary thing is that, as Atwood pointed out, nothing in the book came out of her imagination, all instances in the book have happened or are currently happening in the real world.
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz – Being an immigrant myself, I think this novel puts a spotlight on the modern-day diaspora and encourages us to develop empathy for the immigrant experience.
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – Because Lily Bart is one of the most tragic characters in literature and Wharton wrote a biting critique in that hypocritical society.
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?
“Sin ought to be something exquisite…” by Emile Zola from The Kill
Speed Round! What is your favorite…
Movie? I don’t really watch a lot of movies so most of my favourites are those I grew up with – 10 Things I Hate About You, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, High Fidelity.
Reading spot? There’s a quiet bench at the ground floor of my office building that faces Fort Canning Park (it’s the biggest park in the city centre) and I love escaping out there during my lunch hour. I also love reading in the MRT.
Ice cream flavor? Chocolate chip cookie (I’m boring!)
Song? This is hard. There’s a lot. Hahaha…Come Pick Me Up by Ryan Adams, Calgary by Bon Iver, I Remember by Damien Rice, Man on Fire by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
Fictional character? Lily Bart from The House of Mirth, Lefty Stephanides from Middlesex, Sammy Clay from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Toby from Maddaddam trilogy
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?
My tips for starting out a bookstagram account are to engage with the community. Follow accounts that you love and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. Most important of all is to be yourself and you will see your account grow organically! Share what your really think about a book. Read the books that you like to read and not because they’re what everyone else is reading or what will get you lots of followers on your account. Bookstagram is about conversations and creating friendships and not a popularity contest so don’t make the goal about follower count but really developing connections with other readers.