Jessica Willis, bookstagrammer at @yetstillshereads and literary candle entrepreneur of NoxToLumosCandleCo., shared with us this guest post about the impact discovering bookstagram has had in her life. If you’re a bookstagrammer or blogger, or if YA books have touched your life in some way, let us know, we’d love to feature a future post about you!
If you would have told me two years ago that something like bookstagram would become my lifeline—something that has helped me as a woman, mother, person (even motivating me to become a business owner), that it would keep that thread of WHO I AM alive—I would have laughed in your face. It’s an app for photos, right? Right? No, it is so much more.
I’m a 30-year-old wife to an incredible man, and a mother to the most incredible, brilliant, hilarious 3-year-old in the universe. His name is Silas, but we call him Sci-Fi. He is the light of my life. The reason the sun rises and sets. After I had Sci-Fi, he became my life and in his every waking moment, I willingly gave myself completely to him. Then the second Silas would fall asleep, even from the days he spent in the NICU, I’d devour books like a person would food (I’ve always had insomnia and have been an avid reader, choosing to read a book a night instead of watching television)
When Si was about 15 months old, life had fallen into a comfortable routine. My husband works overnight, so our life has always been a little strange, but I never once didn’t want to get up the second Si woke up, jump up if he squeaked, or just do whatever was needed to do in his daily life. Then one day, after months of teasing from my husband, I joined Instagram. Honestly, I intended to make it a shrine to Silas. Lol. (Nobody laugh at me. When you are a stay-at-home mom with only one child, he becomes your best friend, your shadow). Because I was brand new to Instagram, I had no followers and had no idea on how things worked. After adding my mom and a few Facebook friends, I took two or three photos of Silas and wondered what the big deal was about it all. I saw a search bar and typed in “books” and it was like angels singing. I discovered accounts, SO MANY ACCOUNTS, FULL OF BOOKS! I honestly never could have dreamed of a world as brilliant as bookstagram even existing. I found something that I didn’t even realize I had lost… I found me again.
It’s funny how, when you are ignorant of something, you don’t miss it, but once I discovered “bookstagram,” I immediately felt like after thirty years, I had found a community of people that I wholeheartedly belonged with. Finally, being a booknerd was cool. Hello, where was bookstagram when I was growing up? When I grew up alongside Harry, Hermione, and Ron? Or when at twleve, I would devour every V.C. Andrews book in secret, eagerly awaiting the next? Or when my brother would bang on the bathroom door throughout my whole adolescence, not because I was doing my make-up and primping but because I would take hour-long baths, just trying to finish my favorite book?
My Instagram account quickly morphed into the bookstagram it is today and in the last two years, bookstagram has made me realize that I can love my son with every fiber of my being but still be me. I had forgotten that. Besides being a wife and mother, I still have so many dreams and it took a little bit of time for me to realize that I am allowed to be a little selfish with my time. Being a mom doesn’t mean that the only person I have to speak with 95% of the day is 3 years old. It feels incredible to Fangirl about my favorite book of the week with other like-minded people. Bookstagram has a huge group of women just like me, all of us waiting on our acceptance letter to Hogwarts that still hasn’t come. We love reading Young Adult novels even though we *may* technically not be a “Young Adults” any longer. I know that there are other mom’s out there who can emphasize with that instant feeling of belonging with bookstagram. It’s okay to have a #bookstagrambestie (or two).
I’m not ashamed to say that since joining bookstagram, it has become the biggest and best part of my personal adult life. It’s my guilty pleasure. There is no need to hide my love of reading or fandoms. Last May, my passion for bookstagram inspired me to start my own literary candle company and this past January, I’m proud to have officially launched Nox to Lumos Candle Co., along with it’s own Instagram, @noxtolumoscandleco (though of course, my main bookstagram account is still @yetstillshereads) Hopefully, my love of everything bookish will become a successful business. Although Literary Candles is a fairly new market, it has become quite competitive quickly. I don’t want my company to just be a clone of everyone else’s. To my knowledge, I am the first to bring my SIGNATURE “chunk candle” in the bookish world. I want all my creativity—that thread of me that bookstagram helped find again—to be evident in every candle I make. I am a mother, wife and an incredibly complex person. I rediscovered the fact that I can still dream, create and put myself out there for the world to either accept or reject.
In the last two years, I have experienced, learned and grown so much as a person… yes, all because a photo app. To any readers who think that bookstagram is all just about taking photos and trying to get likes, I hope that you really dive in and try to discover the brilliance that is in all of the different profiles, feeds, and most importantly, the other members. They become your confidantes, your shoulders to lean on, your best friend and that person you can go to and gush over fictional characters with and they know who it is you are gushing about.
(*Ahem*… I would just like to publicly apologize to my husband for the 6+ years of marriage before I found bookstagram. Bless his heart, he has had to sit there and obediently *and enthusiastically* nod his head after I would read a brilliant book or series for hours… sometimes days, because I just had to tell someone what I just read. You are an amazing husband and I thank you.*)
After marriage, it is easy to slowly distance yourself from your old friends, especially after having kids, and I am definitely not the type of person to walk up to a stranger (in real life) and make new friends. Instagram, and in turn bookstagram, gave me hope. It gave me opportunity and a future. None of this would have been possible without bookstagram. The social media and publishing house contacts I have gained in these past couple of years would have seemed like a pipe dream if I knew it was something I was searching for back then.
Your life never turns out how you expect it to and right now, that’s exciting. The future is ahead of me and for the first time, with an incredible community of bookstagrammers behind me, a wonderful family and a more confident me, I’m not afraid.