This interview was originally conducted back in July of 2016, however due to my busy university schedule it is only being posted now. I apologize for the delay!
Hello, hello, hello! As I’m sure many of you will remember, a while ago I started a weekly series where each Sunday I would sit down and chat with one of my favorite bookstagrammers and talk about life, literature, and any advice they might have for getting started with bookstagram. I really loved putting together this series, and I heard loads of lovely things from people who enjoyed reading these interviews, however I unfortunately got very busy with university work and just generally stopped blogging. As many of you know, though, I’m now on summer vacation, which means I have plenty of time to relaunch the Sunday Morning Book Chats series! This will, of course, include publishing all of the previous interviews I never got around to posting, as well as hopefully adding to the lineup and conducting some new interviews. For an up-to-date schedule of when these interviews will be going up, click here or check the Sunday Morning Book Chats tab at the top of the page.
Enough rambling – on to the interview! This Sunday’s featured bookstagrammer is the incredibly lovely Steph from @bookishsteph1. As well as running a completely stunning bookstagram account (with 12.5 thousand followers, might I add), Steph is a mum from Wales, a founder of the Maidens of Murder book club, and rep for the adorable Etsy shop JanesTinyThings. Without further ado, let’s hear from Steph. 🙂
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 Steph and I’m from Wales in the UK and I have a three year old son. When I’m not reading or doing anything bookish, I’m looking after my son. We go for walks each day, preferably somewhere in nature, like a fairly local nature reserve and the beach. I also enjoy plants and gardening (I managed a garden centre for ten years), photography, craft and jewellery making (hoping to make this into a business one day) and occasionally catching up on series I’ve missed (like The Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, Arrow, Agent Carter, The Flash and anything else Marvel/DC related). I’ve been a part of the bookstagram community for nearly a year and a half and I love it! It’s been so great meeting lots of bookish people who I can call my friends.
2. How did you discover the bookstagram community, and what you made you decide to start your own account?
I started my account as a way to keep track of my reading and it all began with a reading challenge I started in 2015. Once I had my account for a month or two, I realised that there was a term called ‘bookstagram’ and it went from there. My account is still primarily for keeping track of my reading and having somewhere to write a quick mini review, which I don’t post anywhere else. I then print my review photos and use them in my reading journal (when I’ve caught up with it, I will share this on my account).
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 really grateful for every person I get to talk to about books as, other than my mum, there’s nobody else ‘bookish’ in my life (although my son is getting there!) and I think interacting and talking about books is the thing that keeps me going with my account. Followers and likes don’t mean much unless you can interact and have conversations about the books you read. One of the biggest things that has come out of bookstagram is @MaidensOfMurder, a book club that myself and nine other bookstagrammers set up as a way to talk about Agatha Christie books and connect with other readers. We read a different Christie book each month. Plus I’ve ‘met’ some great people through each buddy read I take part in.
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 usually have a TBR pile for the month which alters as my mood alters throughout the month. From this stack I usually have a short story collection, which I will read all throughout the month, and a main book that I’m currently reading. I do occasionally have two or three books on the go at one time but I prefer reading one at a time. If I’m doing a month long buddy read then I will read a different book in between.
2. What are you currently reading, and what books are you excited to start reading soon?
I’m currently reading Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie (The @maidensofmurder book for July) and I’m really enjoying it – very intriguing so far with some great characters. I’m also working my way through Poems of the Sea from Everyman’s Library, with favourites such as Poe, Plath and Tennyson.
Next, I’m excited to read The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude, Stoner by John Williams and more Shirley Jackson in August.
3. On a scale of 1-10, how intimidating is your TBR pile?
I don’t find my TBR pile that intimidating as I do it monthly and pick books that I’m really in the mood for that month. If I change my mind and want to swap out books from my TBR pile then I do. Nothing is set in stone with reading and you have to read what you are truly interested in at that time. If I stacked all the books I own that I haven’t read then, yes, that would be intimidating!
4. Who are your go-to authors?
My go-to authors at the moment are John Wyndham and Agatha Christie. A favourite author who I want to read more from as I haven’t read much by him recently is Stephen King. Also anything by H. G. Wells, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Shirley Jackson.
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 invite H. G. Wells, John Wyndham and Stephen King. All the scientific and scary conversations (most of which I wouldn’t understand!) would be great. Plus between them, surely we could actually invent a time machine? Because the person I would most like to invite to a tea party would be my nan from about 10 years ago, before she had Alzheimer’s.
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. They can be the worst. I think the key thing to getting out of them is either don’t read and just do something else you are interested in for a few days, then go back to your shelves and pick something that really grabs you. Alternatively, try reading a favourite book and immerse yourself in that world.
7. What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, for bravery, strength, friendship and good vs evil
- 1984 by George Orwell, for its frightening look at the future, which is becoming more and more relevant, plus Orwell is a superb writer.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, for amazing world building and characterisation.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, for truly poetic writing.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for a study of humanity in all ifs forms, whether the wicked or the wonderful, in a style that is modern and refreshing, even now.
8. I know how bookstagrammers love a good quote, particularly for the captions of their photos, so can you share one of your favorite quotes with us?
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
Frankenstein is one of my favourite classics and this quote has always resonated with me, for different reasons, be it in a moment when I needed courage or just as a reflection of how desperate the monster had become.
Speed Round! What is your favorite…
Movie? Don’t make me choose! The Usual Suspects.
Color? Navy blue.
Reading spot? On the settee (couch) with a blanket on a cold winter night, preferably with an open fire.
Ice cream flavor? Mint chocolate chip.
Song? Dark Necessities by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (playing it on repeat).
Fictional character? Samwise Gamgee.
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 bookstagram would be to have fun, take pictures with your own style and individuality and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Above all, it’s about the books and interacting about reading -be a part of a community which talks about and celebrates reading, encouraging others as you go.
Do make sure you check out Steph’s account over at @bookishsteph1, and join us next week (providing I stay on schedule this time, which I really hope to do) for an interview with Morgan from @literaryloveaffair_. 🙂