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The Joys of Bookstagram Challenges

Sharanya Sharma

Staff Writer

Growing up, Sharanya Sharma was frequently caught leaving home and tumbling into places like Hogwarts, Prydain, and Frell. These days, she spends most of her time running around after (adorable) children in Washington, DC, trying to teach them things like math and social studies and reading. Especially reading. All of her spare time (and change) is spent in bookstores, inhaling books and coffee. She's had a life-long love affair with middle-grade and YA lit, and hopes to write her own novel(s) in those genres some day. Blog: Inkstinedreads Twitter: @srsharms

For those of you who aren’t in the know yet, Bookstagram is the place on Instagram where book lovers and those obsessed with — I mean, who enjoy — photographing and sharing their love of books and/or reading lives. I myself only discovered it recently, and have loved getting to be a part of the online bookish community by posting pictures of the things I love most. And one of the best ways to do this? Bookstagram photo challenges!

What is a book photo challenge? It begins with a list of themes or ideas, typically one for each day the challenge last for (30 or 31 days in the month, 90 days in the summer, 365 days in the year, etc). Your job, as a bookstagrammer, is to post a photo of the book that fulfills that theme or idea in your mind. And if that doesn’t win you over already, here are some other pretty fantastic reasons why I love doing Bookstagram challenges!

To start with, book photo challenges make me literally see my books in a brand new way. Suddenly, I’m paying attention the colors used in the cover, the swirls and curves in the lettering, the way the title sits on the spine. It’s a fantastic way to appreciate your books in a totally different light!

Second, I now find myself re-visiting long-lost or almost-forgotten books — for the fun of it! Book challenges on Bookstagram often have themes, such as “A sad book” or “favorite villain.” This means I find myself digging through my shelves (and, okay, piles left all over the floor that didn’t fit in shelves) looking for that Perfect Book for the day’s theme (while also trying not to repeat a previous challenge entry because where’s the fun in that?). Sometimes, that book is a beloved favorite whose pages are bent over from the number of times I’ve turned them. Or, other times, it’s a childhood favorite I haven’t thought of in a while, or a book that’s been on my TBR pile for a while that I, er, haven’t gotten to yet (but will!). Either way, it’s a great chance to reconnect with those books that you haven’t seen in awhile — plus a fun way to share the books you own, that isn’t necessarily just (another) TBR pile or end-of-month Read post (though those often show up on a challenge too!).

Also, it’s a fabulous, visual way to share my love for certain characters or books with others who have read them! Themes like “favorite YA heroine” or “Favorite Contemporary Book” give an amazing excuse to start gushing about your most beloved (or most hated) characters, settings, etc. I mean, chances are you can’t shut up about these books anyway — but now you have a cool visual and a great audience to share in your enthusiasm!

And, in that vein, it’s a great opportunity to be inspired, and to inspire. As many of you already know, whether we love ‘em or hate ‘em hashtags are a fantastic way to explore the things that interest us. For me, clicking on a book challenge hashtag is also an incredibly easy way to add to my TBR pile. Want to know about other favorite villains, awesome YA heroines, etc.? Clicking on that hashtag in your bookstagram challenge photo instantly sends you to several others who shared their own favorite villains via awesome visual representation. Interested in what everyone else has listed as “yellow book”? Awesome! And then you find yourself loving that particular cover and wanting to know more about that particular book. And, naturally, I like to think I do the same for other bookstagrammers too!

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, posting Instagram photos of books is just a fabulous, easy-to-do method of paying homage to my books and my love of reading. I mean, sure, that kitten staring into the camera posted by a friend is adorable, of course, but don’t our beloved, sometimes life-changing stories deserve the same attention and glory? I think so! What’s great about challenges, though, is that they give a focus for your love and attention. Now I’m thinking more deeply about the presentation of the books I have. I’m also really focusing on the themes, characters and experiences of the books I have.

Well, there you have it! If you’re not sure how to Bookstagram, I promise you it is fantastically simple! Super awesome bookstagrammers, fellow Rioters included, have shared tons of great ideas and awesome how-to posts, like here, and here. Along with the rad #bookstagram hashtag, there are some other pretty stellar bookish challenge hashtags that you can search for, like #bookphotochallenge and #bookphotography. For challenges specifically for June, you can search the hashtag #junebookchallenge. And, of course, you can always look up your favorite book bloggers to see if they are hosting any bookstagram challenges (many do!). Happy bookstagramming, folks!