On Taking My Reading Hobby To The Next Level
While I would have always classified myself as someone who likes to read, it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve really devoted myself to reading as a true pastime and taken on the self-proclaimed title of reader as a main component of my identity.
Along the way, I’ve let other hobbies fall to the back burner with no regrets, and as one thing has led to another, I’ve really let myself immerse fully into the reading life.
It turns out that there’s actually more to this bookish hobby than just reading the pages themselves, as enjoyable as that is.
Ready to take your reading life to the next level? Here are a few ways to get even more bookish.
It all started when two friends and I each decided to invite one other friend and start a seasonal book club. We only meet four times a year, which leaves lots of room for reading other books, we rotate who chooses the book, and we always enjoy a collaborative meal featuring foods mentioned in the book. And sometimes we even dress up.
No, it’s not a separate app. Bookstagram is a subculture within the Instagram app built around a hashtag. After discovering a few book accounts and then watching a couple of friends create a new, separate IG account just for posting about books, I decided to give it a go.
There I have found the unexpected joy of an entire community of readers who like to take pretty pictures of books, share what they’re reading, give recommendations, and share reading experiences. I only follow feeds with this account that are related to books, so it’s a very curated feed, and it makes my bookish heart very happy. I’ve even met up with other local bookstagrammers to eat together and swap books.
In addition to looking at pretty photos of books, I can also fill my ears with bookish conversations. There are so many great podcasts devoted to the reading life and talking about books. A few of my favorites are: What Should I Read Next, Currently Reading, The To Read List, Annotated (by Book Riot), Read Aloud Revival, and Overdue. (Like I said, there are so many more—there’s a book podcast to suit any taste, truly!)
If I love a book or a series, I’m always curious about the author’s process, background, and inspiration. It’s so fun to go to a bookstore or library and listen to an author share about their books, and maybe even get to fangirl a little and get a book autographed. Many of these events are free, and buying books at them is a great way to support local bookstores and authors.
As I’ve begun following authors and readers online who live in all different parts of the world, I’ve started learning about gatherings big and small devoted to books. This year I went to the San Diego Festival of Books and the L.A. Times Festival of Books, which is reportedly the biggest book festival in the U.S.
I trekked up to the USC campus to go with a friend this year, and it was incredible. Author panels on a variety of stages, vendors and booths galore, oodles of new and used books for sale, and thousands of readers wandering around feeling like they’re among their people. If you’re on the East Coast, BookCon looks incredible. And for the rest of the country, many cities have book festivals, and a few years ago Book Riot published a great list of lesser-known book events in every state.
It may be that as a bookworm I’ve simply reached the pinnacle of nerdiness, but the good thing is that I’m not alone, and when you find your people, that’s when the real fun happens. Book nerds unite!
• Listen to the podcast episode about this post.
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