There is an unexpected and overlooked connection created by people when they bond over books. It’s time to bring that to light.
I fall into the stereotype of a literature student – someone whose entire world revolves around reading. I find comfort in books, and so do many of my course mates. But, down to my own anxieties, I found it hard to connect with other literature students when my course began. As a result, I was close to finishing my first year having made very few friends. Until I found my people.
I finally plucked up the nerve to go to a book club I’d had my eye on, and I instantly knew I wanted to be friends with everyone there. It was blaringly obvious I’d found the connection I’d been searching for. Then Covid-19 struck and it stopped the world. After only a month of knowing these people, of not quite being able to form that connection, the pandemic pulled me away. You can imagine my relief when they created perhaps the most chaotic group chat I’d ever been in.
It was packed full of book lovers, people who I could finally relate to. We used this space to vent about the world, about our struggles with university being cut short, or having to unexpectedly leave what had been our home for the past six months. These people understood me, and they became my support system. They would reach out when I had my own experience of Covid-19, they became some of my closest confidants. This all stemmed from a beautiful bookish community.
This group chat would break off into buddy reads which would lead onto Netflix Watch Parties. This in turn led to inside jokes and shared interests, and an ever-growing list of book recommendations. Over the summer of 2020, this community became my escape from everything that threatened to consume me, from a family member becoming ill with the virus, to cabin fever from being stuck inside.
However, the support from the bookish community didn’t end there. That group is still up and running, as are some of the buddy reads which have grown massively, and I talk to some of the members every day. It also introduced me to an online book club, dedicated to shedding light on queer voices, and allowing us to celebrate our queer identities.
Another community I joined last year was Bookstagram. I made my account in March 2020, and it became my project over the summer of Covid-19. It pushed me to read more, diversify my list, and find creative ways to publish my bookish thoughts. It’s an incredibly diverse platform, full of reels, stacks, flat-lays, and the people behind those accounts are wonderfully diverse too. They’re of all ages, backgrounds, identities, countries, interests. It’s beautiful.
It’s a place where like-minded bookish people can find their community. We can recommend books, or gush about our favourite authors. We can cringe about certain phrases whilst delving deeper into the book because “IT’S JUST SO GOOD!!!!”
Through Bookstagram, I have strengthened my bonds with people from book clubs, I’ve connected with people around the world, I’ve introduced people to new books, and I’ve found some of my favourite authors from this community. As well as this, it’s allowed me to interact with some of my favourite authors – hearing about their new projects or gaining the space to tell them directly how much their works mean to me.
The bookish community may often be dismissed as loners, or rejects – things I’m sure we’ve all heard in the past when we’ve curled up with a book rather than meeting up with people. But it’s full of wonderful souls. It’s a massively magical and supportive system, full of people who understand.
I have found so much support from this community over the past 16 months, and I know that I’m not alone.