5 Ways To Survive A Reading Slump

electronic reading

We’ve all been there. You’re smashing your TBR pile/shelf one book at a time, writing all the reviews and just generally living your best book loving life. Until all of a sudden, that drive is gone! Vanished! It’s in the void! You can’t even fathom picking up a book. I’m a weird reader. One moment I’ll be reading constantly, all I want to do in my spare time is pick up the book I’m currently reading. Then the next moment, I won’t feel like reading anything! My worst/longest reading slump lasted almost a year! It was of course around about the time I found out I was pregnant all the way through to after she was born which was both a beautiful dream of baby cuddles and total feelings of love and completion but it was also a total nightmare of no sleep and a crying baby I had no idea what I was doing with.

fast forward 8 months and I can feel myself getting to a point that I may be hitting another, slightly smaller slump. My kiddo is getting teeth, and as most parents know, THIS IS NOT FUN! In addition to this, she also needs to be highly supervised as she is becoming more mobile now, so half my “spare time” is now taken up by a baby who won’t sleep or a baby who just wants to touch everything. So here are the tips and tricks I’ll certainly be following to try and get some reading done and some books completed this month!

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Forget About Your Reading Goal

If you’re anything like me, you’ve set a reading goal on Goodreads this year. I am a total sucker for it, but it comes with both positives and negatives. Positives being, well, it’s fun! Until you hit a reading slump, then those numbers just feel like a burden! So my first tip is to just forget about the numbers! Reading is supposed to be fun. If you only read half a book one month, so be it! As long as you enjoyed that half of a book, the numbers don’t matter! Just roll with it!

Reread Something You Love

Read a book you know you adore (hello ACOMAF)! I find rereading a story with characters I love/have an unhealthy obsession with (hello Cassian!) really helps me get back on track with my reading! I have also found it helpful before, to read a book I haven’t read, yet written by an author I love! Give it a go, you’ll be out of that slump in no time!

Join A Buddy Read

Ask your friends if they’d be interested in doing a buddy read with you! Set small reading goals for the week and then chat about it, preferably over coffee! If you don’t have anyone in your life that is interested in reading, jump on Bookstagram! There are bound to be so many other readers in the same boat as you that would be really happy to do a buddy read with you and chat about it online at the end of the week!

Switch Genres

I’m a total fool for fantasy novels. I love them. LOVE THEM. But sometimes, especially if you’ve been delving into a lot of different worlds, it can get a little repetitive. So why not switch it up! Try reading a contemporary or sci-fi! Or maybe even switch to non-fiction and try that instead. Sometimes all you need is a break from your usual read!

Ride It Out

Sometimes, a book slump is going to win. But instead of forcing yourself to try and get back into reading, why not instead do something else with that spare time! Focus on other bookish things! Write for your blog, takes pictures of Bookstagram, get started on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for 300 years (you must be a Fae or something if you’ve waited that long though and if that’s the case, hit me up I’d like to visit the Night Court!)

And if all else fails, there’s always Netflix. Go binge watch something awesome and forget about books for a while, the slump will pass eventually. I recommend Brooklyn 99 if you’re looking for a good laugh.

My (Super Easy) Guide To How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos

There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your Instagram feed and seeing a cohesive group of pictures that blend so well together that the overall effect is like you’re looking at one picture. It’s similar to one of those artistic photos that, when you look close enough, are actually made up of hundreds of different smaller photos.

So I know you probably haven’t been wondering, but if you have and would like to know, below you will find a (super easy) guide to how I take and edit my Instagram photos as of late! Keeping in mind that my feed has changed a lot since I first started Instagram, but I do feel like I have finally found a theme that suits me!

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Equipment & Editing Apps

Lets start with the easy stuff! What I use to take my photos. I don’t use anything special! No big bulky camera, not lighting set up. I just use my iPhone XS and I make sure I take all my photos right next to a big, open window, with lots of natural light streaming in! I always try to shoot when the lighting is the same, otherwise I end up having to tweak my photos more to keep their uniformity.

Once all my props are set up, which can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how creative I feel that day, I generally take about 10 photos before I get the one I’m most happy with. This can vary though, again, depending on how creative I feel and If I’m happy with my initial set up! I have also made sure to get really familiar with my Iphone’s camera settings so I know how to adjust the exposure and focus while shooting. I’ll usually shoot with ‘portrait’ mode when I’m not doing a flat lay because it gives the photos a really nice, almost professional, quality.

After sorting through the photos I’ve taken, I choose my favourites to edit. I start by using the in phone editing options to crop or realign a photo. After this I drop it into:

Colourtone

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

Colourtone is my all time favourite editing app. I don’t want to bother with creating my own filters or paying big bucks for a subscription to an app I may not even use! I am much happier using presets! And boy, does this app have some beautiful preset filters!  The app itself is free and a select few of the filters are free also! However, the filter I use, I purchased in a pack for no more than, I believe, about $2.99 Australian.

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After I’ve thrown on the filter I like to use, I then move on to checking where it will fit in best on my feed by using:

UNUM

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

UNUM allows you to plan out your entire feed, and the best part about it, is that it’s FREE! Well, you can purchase an upgrade, but I’ve never found I needed it. I import all the photos I have edited into UNUM and start moving them around to see what photos I want to upload to Instagram and in what order I’d like to upload them. This is a much easier way of creating an overall aesthetic, rather than uploading to Instagram and then finding out later that the photo doesn’t really fit with the rest of your feed! Or worse, uploading, then taking it down, then uploading, then taking it down… You get the picture! It’s annoying for both you and your followers!

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Once I’ve decided what order I want to post my content I move onto Instagram! In Instagram, I usually only ever use the sharpening tool to really make the foreground pop! Other than that, I don’t make use of any of the other editing tools or filters within Instagram.

At the end of the day, your content should reflect your personality. Create content that you love and are proud of, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Happy Bookstagramming everyone!

Bookstagram Behaviours That Are Making You Look Like An Idiot

If you’ve been on Bookstagram for any length of time, you’ll probably have noticed that some people are just out there looking for a “follow back.” They aren’t always easy to spot, but generally as a Bookstagrammer, if some big, beefy fitness guy who only ever posts mirror selfies follows my account, I can almost guarantee he’s doing it for the follow back and he’ll be unfollowing me within a day or so.

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem to end there! For some reason the Bookstagram community is now like this weird, post apocalyptic, dystopian world where we trade in likes and follows and we’re all really wary of giving away too many, without gaining in return. The more followers we have, the more successful we feel and the more we feel like our content matters.

There are a million reasons why I disagree with posting content solely for the purpose of gaining followers, my main reason being, it should be something you actually enjoy, not a chore. But that’s a whole different blog post altogether. Below I have compiled all the ridiculous follow-hungry behaviours that are prevalent in the Bookstagram community today and how they are making you look like an idiot.

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Asking Popular Accounts For Shoutouts

People work hard on their content and more often than not, it’s taken years of dedication for them to have gotten that follower count. Don’t contact popular Bookstagram accounts, or accounts bigger than yours begging for a shoutout, they won’t like it and it makes you look desperate and silly. Instead, enjoy the community and interact with people who share the same love of books as you!

Liking Someones Entire Feed, But Not Following

You know the ones, when someone randomly likes your last 30 posts in the span of a couple of minutes but they don’t follow you. They must like your content enough to sit there and like your posts, right? Oh, but not quite enough to follow your account. This tactic is so transparent and ridiculous, it’s actually quite clear you don’t really like the content, you’re just looking for someone to make their way to your page in hopes that you’ll end up with a new follower. How about next time, if you like that many of someones pictures, give them a follow, maybe even ask them about some of the books you can see in their photos! Trust me, you’re far more likely to make friends this way.

Playing The Follow, Unfollow Game

This one is the most annoying in my opinion. I’ve even had a fairly popular author use this method on me! I noticed because I got rather excited to see an author follow me! I thought “No way! She likes my content!” only to have her unfollow me the next day after she realised I’d followed her back. The ‘follow, unfollow’ method is the epitome of viewing your ‘follows’ as some weird form of currency! People don’t want to be following more accounts than the amount of followers they have. It’s ridiculous. If you like someones content, follow them, if you don’t, bugger off and leave them be. Not to mention how time consuming for you, when you could be using that time to create your own content! Or in the case of that author, I don’t know, writing more books!

Leaving Generic Comments

So I get it, you want people to make their way to your account. You want people to see all your hard work. But why don’t you actually pay attention to what peoples captions say? Chances are in the Bookstagram community, the post you’re about to comment on is worthy of more than just your generic “great content :)” comment. Interact, answer questions, ask questions! But please, for goodness sake, don’t leave a generic emoji comment hoping that you’ll get a follow. If you want to comment, make sure you mean it and you care about the topic being discussed!

There are so many more ridiculous things that go on in this community. It can be thoroughly disheartening when most of us joined Bookstagram to make friends and talk about the books we love. When social media becomes more about instant gratification and numbers, it gets less fun for not just you, but everyone else too. So next time you’re about to leave a generic comment or you’re getting your thumb ready for another round of follow-unfollow, maybe just, don’t. Go leave meaningful comments, start a discussion and enjoy the community. Don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you make yourself look like an idiot.

Why I Will Never Use An Electronic Reading Device

I can already hear what you e-book lovers are about to say! “But it’s so much easier” you’d protest. “What if you’re traveling?!” you’d scream, “You have hundreds of books right there in the palm of your hand!”

Well, as a girl who happily lugged at least 10+ books (yes, mostly hard covers) back from her last trip to America, I can assure you, I cannot relate. Physical books rock my world and I will never use, buy or borrow an electronic reading device. You can’t make me and below are a few reasons why!

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Smelling The Pages

Yeah, ok, don’t act like you’re above it! If you’re an avid reader, chances are you either do, or have done this at some point. But I cannot help but fan through the pages of a book, my nose pressed right up against the edges, breathing in that glorious ‘new book smell.’ Although ‘old book smell’ also has its merits, it isn’t quite the same for me. Perhaps it stems from my very real love of book stores, who knows. Speaking of which…

Perusing Book Stores

Have you ever stepped into a book store and had the overwhelming smell of ink on pages greet your sense? Because I have and it’s amazing. Not to mention, buying physical copies of books from your local book store helps keep them in business. There is nothing quite like spending hours in a book store perusing the shelves for your next read, or, lets be honest here, the next book you’re going to throw on that ever growing TBR (to be read) pile that you may or may not get to before you die of old age or it falls and crushes you to death.

The Feeling

Ok, so I might be getting a little pompous about it all here, but come on, the act of getting more than half way through a book and being able to feel when the pages you’ve read get thicker than the pages waiting to be read is the best. I don’t want to be told what percentage of the way through a book I am. I WANNA FEEL IT. The physical act of turning the pages is perfection and I will not give it up!

Also, what bookworm do you know that doesn’t carry a book with them everywhere they go?! That comforting thud, thud, thud of the heavy book whacking against your side because your bag is now 10x heavier than it should be, is glorious.

Public Libraries

LIBRARIES! Aren’t they the best!? Whether at home or at a dedicated establishment, libraries are just THE BEST. But public libraries are special! Much like second hand book stores, it’s nice to ponder at who read the book before you! What did they think of it? Did they dog ear like a savage and not use a bookmark? Did they spill coffee or accidentally smear orange Cheeto dust on one of the pages? It’s like a murder mystery only without the murder! Unless someone does the aforementioned savagery to your personal home library books, in which case, I have a tarp and a shovel.

So you see, physical books are the best. I won’t deny that there are merits in using an e-reader, but they just aren’t for me! I won’t judge you though, go ahead and use your soulless brick. In all seriousness though, read on whatever you like! At the end of the day, at least we’re all reading, right?

How To Host A Bookstagram Giveaway

Chances are if you’ve been on the Bookstagram community a while, you’ve seen people hosting giveaways! A “giveaway,” for those who don’t know, is essentially when you host a mini competition with the prize being something bookish! To make things easier, when I host a giveaway, I’ll usually make the prize a book from Book Depository to the value of, say, $20 Australian. Giveaways are a great way to expand your follower base and get your content seen by a wider range of people. Please note however, that they are not a necessity and you are under no obligation to host a giveaway. But if you are interested in hosting one and have no idea where to start! Below are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

Giveaway Rules

All giveaways have rules! You aren’t exactly giving something away for nothing, you’re offering people the chance to win something if they follow a certain set of rules to enter the competition. For the sake of not getting too in depth, I am going to assume you already know the basics of how instagram works! A common set of giveaway rules would be as follows.

1. You must be following me, do not follow to unfollow later.

2. Like this post.

3. Post about the giveaway in your stories and remember to tag me.

4. Comment “done” on this post when you’re done! (This is an important step as this will be the list you use when choosing your winner)

Some people then go on to create another list of optional requirements that will allow an entrant to gain more entires into a giveaway. Some of these include things such as

1. Tag some Bookstragam friends who might be interested in this giveaway, each person you tag is an extra entry.

And

2. Share this giveaway post to your feed and tag me for an extra entry.

I would also recommend having a look at some of your favourite Bookstagram accounts and see if they have hosted any giveaways, look into what kinds of rules they applied and mix it up to suit you.

Be Aware Of What Hashtags You Use

When hosting a giveaway on Bookstagram, you want your target audience to be other book lovers. People who aren’t going to unfollow you as soon as your giveaway is over! Because this is the case, you need to be very aware of what hashtags you’re using and try not to be too general with them! Instead of just tagging your post with #giveaway, try using #bookishgiveaway or #bookstagramgivaway. This allows you to target your preferred audience, instead of people who aren’t really interested in books and only want free stuff. I could even argue that hashtags aren’t necessary if people are posting about your giveaway to their stories. This gives you a far more organic “word of mouth” reach without having to worry about hashtags. Another way around this is to include a disclaimer in your giveaway that only Bookstagram accounts can enter.

Choose Your Winner Fairly

When it comes to choosing a winner, I believe you need to be as fair as possible. I find taking the time to be thorough with your entires is of the utmost importance. Once you have your list finalised, you are then able to input the names into a random name picker (you can google this and you’ll find plenty)! I find this to be the most efficient and fair way of choosing a winner without it being influenced by myself. After this, I check that the winner has satisfied all the entry requirements and if it looks like they have, I announce the winner on my stories! Once they reply I get them to check out the book depository to see what book(s) they would like and I have it shipped to them! This could very well be the most important step! Follow through with the giveaway guys!

In my time on Bookstagram, this has easily been the most effective way to gain a following, however I would suggest keeping your giveaways to a milestone or special event. If you host too many, it may get a bit tiresome for you and your followers!

Happy Bookstagramming! You can find me on Instagram @readingsumpton.

Bookish Gift Guide For Readers

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Ringing in the new year means a whole host of birthdays once again coming our way. I have often found it hard to find the perfect gift for certain loved ones in my life, but when it comes to bookworms, I’ve got you covered! So if you have a book lover in your life, why not try to find them something they will really love! Below are just a few ideas of gifts that every bookworm will be ecstatic to receive!

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Bookmarks

Save your book lover from using a receipt, business card or tissue as a bookmark! There are plenty of beautiful bookmark companies out there! Ink and Wonder is just one of these many companies, but it is easily my favourite! They have created what they call a “woodmark” which is made of very thin, ethically sourced wood. They have a whole range of beautifully vibrant and incredibly designed products, not just bookmarks, including tote bags, enamel pins and stickers!

Game of Thrones Woodmark from Ink & Wonder

Book Sleeves 

Chances are your bookworm carries a book with them everywhere they go. This often means throwing said book into their bag or even onto the back seat of their car! Book sleeves keep their books safe when they are on the move! A quick google search will have you covered in this category! There are plenty of beautifully handmade book sleeves on Etsy! A couple of wonderful book sleeve companies  I enjoy are Bookbeau and Thumbelara!

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Bohemian Book Sleeve from Thumbelara

Bookish Candles

I know what you’re probably thinking! “Candles? Really? That’s what I buy my mother when I don’t know what else to get her!” But these candles are different! They are themed! Themes usually range from different books/series to things bibliophiles love (like bookstores, cafes or the great hall from Harry Potter)

If your book lover is also an avid instagrammer (or bookstagrammer) candles also make fantastic props! A few of my favourite candle companies include Flick the Wick, Spark and Sparrow, In The Wick Of Time and Alchemy and Ink!

The Raven Cycle Candle from In The Wick of Time (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Book Subscription Box

A book subscription box is a monthly subscription, delivered to your door, full of amazing bookish content, including a book! This is on the pricier side, especially if you choose to subscribe for longer periods of time! However, one off purchases are available and it’s essentially a “lucky dip” for book nerds! Owlcrate, Fairyloot and The YA Chronicles are just a few of these fun boxes!

A Coffee/Tea Mug

Give me the name of one book lover who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while they are reading?! I’ll wait!

Seriously though, you can’t go wrong here! Especially if you find out if they have a particular book or series they absolutely adore and you find a mug that coincides with that book! I received the below Harry Potter themed mug in an Owlcrate subscription box and have been in love with it ever since!

Harry Potter Mug (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Reading Journal

a reading journal is a fun way for bookworms to track and plan out their reading for the week, month or even year! There are a lot of beautifully designed journals and a quick google search will have you on your way! A journal is a far more intimate and personal way for your book lover to track their reads as opposed to sites like Goodreads.com (which I also love)!

So there you have it! If you have a book lover in your life and you have no idea what book to buy them next, why not skip buying them a book or voucher all together and get them some fun bookish merch!

How To Gain Followers On Bookstagram

I am sorta new to Bookstagram. If only because most of the time I have had a Bookstagram I was also pregnant with my daughter and had a heck of a lot to think about, which means instagram went by the wayside for a little while. But! If you are completely new to Bookstagram (hi, lets be friends!) Bookstagram is an Instagram account dedicated to, you guessed it, books! My account grew from 0 followers to 600+ within the first month I started. I am in no way an expert and there are accounts with tens of thousands of people following them that probably know a lot more than I do. Below are just a few tips I picked up along the way. Had I been more consistent in my first year I would probably have had more growth than I do now. However, below I will discuss my first few months on Bookstagram and things I learned when I got started.

Choose A Theme By Letting It Come Naturally

When I started my Bookstagram or even my personal account (years ago) I never really decided on a set theme which made it hard for me to dive right in and decide what I wanted my Bookstagram to look like. However, I encourage you to take a look at your personal account, if you have one. What colours do you favour? Do you use a particular filter to make all your photos look similar? I went into Bookstagram with an aim of creating photos I enjoyed the look of. For me that means a lot of neutral tones, natural light and a little bit of what feels like ‘home’ when I look at them! For others, it can mean the total opposite. But I encourage you to let your theme develop naturally. You don’t want to be half way through posting and realise you aren’t enjoying your content at all because it isn’t really “you” in any way! Your style may slowly change over time, but as long as you are focusing on what you like and not trying to determine what other people want you to create, you’ll do just fine!

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Your theme will change and develop over time. (@readingsumpton)

Interact With Fellow Bookstagrammers

This one’s easy and in my opinion, the most important! Talk! Comment, message, like people’s content, but above all, be sincere. Don’t just comment “great pic :)” on every picture you see. Be engaging! This platform is as much for making friends as it is for getting your content out there and seen! I know I have made some wonderful friends on Bookstagram and you can too!

Don’t Ask For Shoutouts, But DO Ask For Advice

Don’t go to big accounts asking for a shoutout, they won’t like it. These people have worked damn hard to get that many followers. But if you have a question for them, whether it be “How did you manage to expand your follower base? Do you have any tips for someone starting out?” or “I love your photos, just wondering if you could let me know what camera you use?” most people won’t mind this at all and it builds relationships with more successful bookstagrammers! I have been lucky enough to have some of my more successful friends give me shoutouts and its honestly, the most wonderful thing in the world when it comes naturally and they are not feeling forced into it!

Camera Or Iphone, It Doesn’t Matter

I know a lot of people use DSLR’s to capture their Bookstagram content. You want to know what I use? Well it’s your lucky day because Imma tell you! I use an iPhone 7 Plus. Yep, I use an iPhone! I have even had people ask me what camera I use for my photographs before! So don’t be hesitant to start your gram purely because you feel your camera isn’t good enough! I would however, get accustomed to using the iPhone camera settings! Make sure you learn how to control the exposure and focus of your iPhone camera (its as easy as a tap on the screen, but get friendly with it and learn how to capture the best photo you possibly can)! I started my Bookstagram with the intent of it being fun and easy, this meant, pointing and shooting with my iPhone!

Make Good Use Of Hashtags

If you look at any number of accounts with a higher follower count, you will notice that nearly all of them use hashtags to ensure their content has a wider reach. Below are just a few of the tags I have seen and used! By using hashtags you are expanding the amount of people who can see your content from just the people who follow you, to people who browse and follow certain hashtags!

#bookstagram, #bookstagrammer, #bookish, #igreads, #yareads, #reader, #bibliophile, #booklover, #booktography, #instabooks

You can find the more popular hashtags by checking out the accounts of Bookstagrammers you follow and seeing what they are tagging their pictures with. This really helps expand your reach.

Host A Giveaway (Optional & Not Necessary)

When I got to 500 follows, I decided to host a giveaway! This is totally optional, but it is a huge part of why my follower base climbed from 500 – 800 in about 2 weeks! I will organise another post on how to run a giveaway later, but if you plan to do one, I encourage you to research as much information as you can before you decide to open a giveaway! Look into other peoples giveaways and check out some bookish blog posts about it. It can be tricky to strike a balance as you don’t want people outside the Bookstagram community entering, only to unfollow you when the giveaway is over! So as I said, I highly recommend doing your research before you host a giveaway!

Most Importantly, Just Have Fun

So those are my tips for anyone looking to join the Bookstagram community! My follower count is still steadily growing, but above all I am having fun. Bookstragam should be a way to get to know more people who enjoy the same things as you. Don’t obsess over the number of followers you gain or lose. Just focus on creating content you are proud of and make some friends! If you are interested in following my account, I am @readingsumpton.

See ya round friends!