There’s a certain peace that comes to me when I read a book, any book, that I really enjoy. I love taking my time to focus on a story, especially on an early Saturday morning when I get a break from the hectic week. Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering, my cat, Luna, joins me on my favorite reading chair in my “book room.” Heaven.
Yet, something I have noticed in the past few years is that the book community, especially in various forms of social media, can be a bit harsh towards authors and other readers. This is far from peaceful. From angry rants at authors for reasons like not appreciating a specific story angle to even attacks on other readers, it’s made me step away from the screen to protect my mental health at times. For me, I feel like everyone is entitled to their own opinion when it comes to books and stories, but at the same time, authors should be respected for their hard work.
But this essay is not meant for me to list off the ways that social media can be truly mean to authors and readers. This is more about how we, book lovers, can find strength in supporting each other in the book community. This includes social media, in-person events, and even your friend’s book club. These are all aspects of the book community that I hold dear.
I’ve encountered so many different issues in the book community, even in my personal community. I’ve experienced a book club gone wrong, to the point that it became a haven for “mean girls” that gossiped about the fact that the books we picked were “not good enough,” to the the pizza I provided to them for free not being good enough, which led to me creating a closer and more tight-knit community with my own positive friends in a smaller setting. We celebrate each other, trade books with each other, lift each other up discussing different books, and even hold each other bookish birthday parties.
This is why, in my current life, I’ve sought out ways to find peace and happiness in the community of readers as a whole. So far, it’s been working for me, and I could not be more thankful. It’s way better for me now than it was then, but it took a lot of soul searching to get to this point.
I love that finally, I feel happy with this in-person group and that we all lift each other up. Which leads me to another way I’ve found positivity in the book community, and that is through local bookish and author events.
My favorite shop in South Florida, Books & Books in Coral Gables, comes to mind. My good friend, Cristina Russell, is a YA and children’s book buyer there, and I love to visit her. There’s nothing better than to chat with her about books and grab a cup of coffee when we find time. Not to mention, the indie bookstore hosts amazing bookish events, such as author signings, where I’ve made some wonderful friends. The book community in Miami gravitates towards that shop, and I’ve found positivity there by connecting closely with other readers that love what I love. Cristina also has donated books for my 10th grade English classroom, which has led to students who could not otherwise afford books having a chance to read something they enjoy. Best extra credit ever, right? Also, it’s amazing how bookish events, such as signings and author chats, bring us together. I’ve had the chance to moderate amazing authors, such as Steelstriker and Legend series author, Marie Lu, which thrills me and brings out my journalistic side as I interview authors live. It’s been a blessing I am thankful for. I recommend that every reader connects with their local indie bookstore if they can, for there is true magic and support there.
Then there’s finding peace in social media. Believe it or not, what has worked for me has been sharing stories that I write with authors and shouting out their work, especially on Twitter. Also, I limit my time on social media as much as I can, especially if I feel stressed and anxious, because I find that social media may trigger it even more. Also, there’s something I always tell myself that works: I, as a reader, focus on lifting other authors and readers up at all times. If I like something about a book or I am excited about a book, I shout it out and mention the author. If I see a friend making their word count on a draft and mentioning it online, I congratulate them. If I get a book I am excited about, I post it. I feel like little details like these make authors and other readers happy and thankful, and it also gives readers ideas on what they can pick up next at the bookstore. I’ve also made some amazing bookish friends online that I share books with, and even trade books with via mail, that we wish to share with each other and are truly excited to read. We even have read books at the same time, as a type of buddy read, even from a distance. It’s amazing how much joy this has brought me, as well as getting follows from authors I admire, especially on Twitter.
With that said, I hope this inspires all of you to find ways to connect as readers and find positivity within our bookish community. I urge all of you to support each other, be there for each other, and to not be afraid of making new friends. I am so thankful that I’ve had these experiences and have met some wonderful people in the process. This site, for me, is also a great example of how I’ve found lasting positivity in the community, by writing about literary things and sharing my love of books to the world. I hope that you, as readers, can find your own bookish peace as well.
How do you find positivity in the book community? Got any tips for me or stories to share? Let me know on Twitter @AuroraMiami. Happy reading, always!