#BelovedBooksProject: A Celebration of Well-Worn Books on Instagram

I love scrolling through bookstagram. Some people have book photographs down to a science: There’s a beautiful book with trinkets that are picking up elements of the cover placed around it just so, fairy lights twinkling in the background, and the lighting and framing is pristine. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m looking at someone’s hobby or a professional ad. But as nice as those can be to look at, they set an impossible standard for most people. My books don’t look like that, I’ve never been able to perfect lighting, and I don’t have an expensive camera. So why even try? Clearly this is not a medium for me.

Recently, Meleika (@endlessyarning) brought up this barrier to entry in a twitter thread, where she said

I’ve become distant with Bookstagram recently bc it feels like You have to be rich to take photos. You have to have perfect books, no bends or scuffs. You gotta be white. Have ‘nice’ things in pics & thats honestly tiring for someone who’s poor. Like here in Aus. A PB is $20 a HB is $35 upwards. I’d rather old/used books tbh

She continues in the thread talking about how the mostly white, well-off community on bookstagram and other bookish internet spaces is alienating to people who don’t share their circumstances.

Out of this frustration, Meleika created the #BelovedBooksProject: a hashtag to showcase the well-loved, used (or library), “imperfect” books that don’t usually get the spotlight on bookstagram.

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"Home is behind the world ahead." 🎵 . Going through my reading record I was surprised to discover I've read THE HOBBIT at least four times. I used to be obsessed with the riddles. And I was convinced Elrond had a glorious beard and was the giant father of all the little elves. . I got this book for 25¢ from a charity shop when I was 10 or so. 😏 I was pretty pleased. I love this dustjacket! . Please check out @endlessyarning for more info on the #belovedbooksproject but the basic is: share your loved copies of books, the dogears and creased spines. 😊 . . #grimdragon – green books . April 26 . . Photo Description: sitting on a clean cut stump in front of a green, dandelion lawn, is a hardback of THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien, with a dust jacket that features an illustration by Tolkien of the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood Forest.

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The results are amazing. While immaculate new hardcovers may look nice in photos, they don’t look… real. Or loved. These books look like they’ve been read and adored.

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Hey everyone! @endlessyarning created the fantastic #belovedbooksproject, to "steer away from the bookstagram aesthetic" of brand new books, and encourage you to show off your imperfect, well-read, or library books. My first collection of Harry Potter books were all bought from charity shops. A vast majority of the books I buy are from used bookstores or charity shops, and a lot of the books I've read over the last year have been from my library. We need to end the stigma around used and well-loved books. Too often I hear people say that used books are 'gross' and that the world doesn't need libraries anymore which is just so wrong. Just because you might be privileged enough to be able to afford to buy new books, any books at all in fact, doesn't mean everyone can. There are so many people who don't have access to, or can't afford to buy books, or have no access to libraries. The BookTube and Bookstagram discussions of book buying and collecting can be so classist and insensitive to people who aren't so priviledged. So, if you've shied away from using your used/library/beloved books for your bookstagram, get them out and share them with the #belovedbooksproject tag, and join the Twitter chat on the 30th on @endlessyarning's twitter (their handle is the same there).

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I think most book lovers have at least one book on their shelf that they have loved to pieces (sometimes literally). The Harry Potter series is a common one–childhood books rarely survive to adulthood in perfect condition.

I work at a used bookstore, so I’m biased, but I feel like worn books are more aesthetically pleasing. They suggest a history; they ask you to imagine the people who have turned those pages before you, and what the same words brought out in them.

Go check out the #BelovedBooksProject tag on instagram to see more! And add your own used or library books to the conversation! Especially if you’ve felt like you don’t have the right camera, accessories, lighting, etc to participate in bookstagram before this. Here, I’ll go first: