I have started a disturbingly high number of blogs over the past several years and somehow I’ve never made one about my one true love: books. The thing is, writing about books, and even talking about them, has always made me anxious. Despite being a voracious reader since childhood and an English major in college, I’ve never been confident in literary analysis. My reviews of books have always sounded something like, “It was good. I liked it.” Or, “It was funny,” “it was weird,” “it was sad.” Lots of adjectives with little substance.
I’ve always been afraid of seeming stupid. I’m afraid of being outed as not really knowing all that much about books and writing, the things I love most. Then, in March 2019, I started a Bookstagram account, aka an Instagram where you post about books. I had just read Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim and was inspired by the women in it talking about how books have shaped their lives and helped them understand themselves better. Knowing how passionate I am about books, I decided to just go for it with Bookstagram despite my fears of “not being smart enough.”
Thank gawd I did because now, over a year later, I feel so much more capable of talking about books. Bookstagram is such a supportive community and is a beautiful, bright spot on the internet. Reading other people’s posts has made me a better reader and has exposed me to books and ideas I may not have otherwise found.
I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid and remember finishing my first “chapter book” when I was six—it was a short novel about the California gold rush. Random, I know. As a child I loved Amelia Bedelia, Animal Ark, and Mary-Kate and Ashley novels, before moving on to Gossip Girl, The Clique, and Harry Potter as a teen. And as much as I wish this wasn’t true, I also had a phase where I was obsessed with Nicholas Sparks. Barf.
As a little kid I was always aware of how much my mom read. She read before bed every night and I loved joining her, laying side by side in a big comfy bed with no sound except the turning of the pages. I think I started reading because I wanted to be like her and I wanted to make her proud, but it quickly became one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I’ve always brought a book with me everywhere I go and when I’m going on vacation I always fret more over how many books to bring than over the clothes I’m packing. Every Christmas and birthday, books have always been at the top of my wishlist.
The book that changed the way I read was Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning For Every Mother’s Daughter by Sally Armstrong. It was instrumental in shaping my understanding of feminism and how issues affecting women vary depending on race, class, sexuality, and religion. Shortly after reading this, I found myself only reading books by women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, a practice I’ve kept up for a few years now. (I did make an exception for It by Stephen King when the movie came out. Sue me.)
Reading has always been a way for me to explore new worlds and meet characters who I imagined I could be best friends with. It’s always inspired me and allowed me to float away to other places and meet new people. I don’t like to think of it as reading to escape, but reading to explore. Now I’m not only exploring other people and worlds, but I’m more conscious of how I can better understand why things are different for some people and how I play a role in that. Reading has made me a more compassionate person, a more socially aware person, and a more humble person. Reading constantly reminds me that I don’t know everything and I’m grateful for that.
I’m so excited to start this blog. Through it I’ll celebrate my love of reading and share the books that make me smile, get angry, feel warm inside, and think critically. I want to push myself, and the people who will hopefully read this, to really think about what I read and why. Reading is a lifelong love for me and I want to read as deeply as I can.