March's Interview With a Bookstagrammer saw us chat to the wonderful Rima from @pardonmywritings
. Rima's account is filled with beautiful photographs that are perfectly in keeping with her feed's soft and calming aesthetic. It also features thoughtfully put together infographics that any bookworm or film lover will appreciate. Thanks so much for chatting with us, Rima!
How did you first become involved with the bookstagram community? Can you remember the moment you decided to create your account?
In my first year of university (2015), my friends were shocked that I didn't have an Instagram account (I'm always late to the game for pretty much everything) so they convinced me to open one! I didn't really know what to post so naturally I started sharing the books I was reading for university (I studied English so I got to read a lot of books!) and through exploring the Instagram hashtags, I came across the hashtag #bookstagram where other bookworms had carved out their own bookish corner on Instagram. I finally found my people! Also back then, the hashtag only had a couple thousand posts to it and now it's grown to 57.2 million over the last 7 years which blows my mind away.
What's your favourite part of the bookstagram community and why is it so important to you?
Such a hard question because I love SO many things about the Bookstagram community. I love how kind and creative and bookish people are, there's an open invitation for you to share the books you like reading without judgement. And since reading is an act of self care for me, I love being able to share my reads and discover new books from others!
Over the last few years, I have also witnessed how the readers and bloggers of Bookstagram have helped influence publishers in publishing more books by authors of colour or stories with #ownvoices which I think is long overdue and just means great things for the generations to come.
Do you think your content has evolved over the years, if so tell us more about that!
Hundred percent. I once said to a friend who recently opened her own Bookstagram that a Bookstagrammer lives many lives with their feed. I actually created an Instagram Guide on the evolution of my page for a visual journey! When I first started in 2015, I was focused on completing book challenges like #rainbowbooks or #booktotvadaptation and looking back, I clearly had no concept of clashing colours on the feed. From 2016-2017, flatlays were all the rage and taking a lot of inspiration from flatlay queens like @foldedpagesdistillery or @abookish.loveaffair , I had a lot of fun using and buying props that matched the books that I was reading for pleasure or for university. Sometimes it was stressful when you didn't have the right props or it was too dark to take photos (blasted UK winters) but I learnt a lot about setting up a photo and finding the best light in a room from all the experimenting.
Between 2018 and 2019, I was still sharing reviews of books and new releases but inspired by bloggers like @polly.florence, @cicivford and @thebookranter who shared their favourite cafe spots or libraries in their town, I began to inject photos of London and the places I visited on holidays. This was probably the period where I had most doubts about my page and photograph skills so instead of comparing with others, I tried to enjoy sharing the historic buildings, the lovely bookshops and the green spaces dotted around my home city instead.
Then 2020 obviously made travelling impossible so I had to almost bring the content I created “indoors”. This was the year when infographics became more and more popular on everyone’s feeds and although at first, it seemed terrifying to interrupt my feed with pictures with added text, I absolutely love creating and sharing them now! In a post covid and #blm world, content that is shareable and relatable is super important and I’ve been able to share book recommendations, film recs and beloved book quotes over the last 6 months. Now I worry less about the quality and colours of every photo - although I'm enjoying an era of off-white, red, green and orange hues on the feed currently - and focus on having bookish conversations with the Bookstagram community!
Do you have any other hobbies alongside books and reading? We’d love to hear more about them…
Yes, I love to cook and bake! Cooking is one of those things that I can truly unwind with as I prepare a cheesy pasta bake or a roast. I’m also trying to use lockdown to improve my baking skills so I can make a victoria sponge without needing a recipe!
Have you always loved books? Tell us the book that cemented your love of reading! Any particular author who’s a huge inspiration?
I’ve loved reading since I was a child - I was the South East Asian version of Matilda dragging a heavy bag of books from the library every weekend! The book that cemented my love for reading was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which I read when I was 15. Set in Afghanistan, this was the first novel where I read about Muslims as ordinary people who also had dreams and regrets in life. Hosseini’s novel inspired me to believe that one day there’ll be more books with #ownvoices and people of different backgrounds would be able to see themselves reflected in these stories.
So you’ve told us about your favourite writers, let’s talk about favourite characters! You can invite three fictional characters from literature to a dinner party, who are they and why did you choose them?
Jo March from Little Women, Alizayd from The City of Brass and Shahrzad from The Wrath and the Dawn are all characters who want a better world for everyone so I think the three of them together may have a lot to discuss. It would be very entertaining!
What book are you most excited to read this year?
All the young and new adult fantasy books based in South Asia, South East Asian and West Africa! On my tbr I’m looking forward to reading The Poppy War, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and The Gilded Ones.
Tell us your favourite account to follow. What do you love about it?
Let it be known that this is a CRUEL question haha - how do I choose?! However one account that I've been inspired by a lot recently is @themagikat - not only are her bookish pictures beautiful but she also shares hilarious and relatable reels about readers or bibliophiles. I first discovered her account from a reel reminding everyone to not feel pressure about others’ reading progress and to enjoy reading at your own pace. How great is that!
Okay final hard hitting question… Dog ear or bookmark?
Haha I openly admit now that I dog-ear my books whilst my bookmarks look pretty on the bookshelf. But I only dog-ear the used and old books! My new books are too innocent for that kind of violence just yet...
Anything else you’d like to add or tell us about?
If you enjoy reading or have thought about opening a bookstagram, my advice is to just DO IT. Don't worry about how things will look or how to hit follower milestones just yet but begin by taking a photo of your favourite book and start sharing the books and things that matter to you. That's what will draw people to you and most importantly help you share a bit of you with the world through the medium of stories.
Use the code 10RIMA to get 10% off Rima's favourite items until Friday 30th April.
Personalised Star Map in White and Gold Foil
Fictional Girl Gang Sweatshirt
Empowering Children's 'Fearless' Sweatshirt
'Obstinate Headstrong Girl' T Shirt
Little Women 'Some Books' Book Page Print
Anne of Green Gables 'Tomorrow' Book Page Print
'What Reading Means' Postcard Set
Personalised Children's Animal Print
'Educate, Organise, Agitate' Pennant
'Too Many Books or Not Enough Bookshelves' Tote
Pemberley Book Lover Candle
Book Lover's Favourite Things Mug
Literary Tea Gift Set
'Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost' Travel Journal
Motherhood Notebook Set