Meet the Bookstagrammer: @KayReadWhat

It’s the best day of the week: Friday! Friday brings another Meet the Bookstagrammer post, and today’s lovely conversation is with none other than Kayla from @kayreadwhat

Not only is Kayla a ray of sunshine in our community with killer fashion sense, she’s genuinely a kind and compassionate person! I’ve been looking forward to chatting with her for this series since I began doing it, so without further ado check out our conversation!

Why did you decide to start a bookstagram?

I actually started my bookstagram right after my first every therapy appointment. I spent Summer 2018 in my worst ever anxiety/depression spiral. During that time though, I was reading a TON and posting little ratings on my personal Instagram stories. Due to that, the IG algorithm started feeding me bookstagram accounts and I was kind of like “okay I can do that” but I was really scared to join. After my first therapy appointment, I realized that I needed a creative outlet and kayreadwhat was born! 

I saw on your page that you’re starting a podcast (Books and the City)- is there anything you can tell us about it or what we should be looking forward to?

Ahhhh yes, I started a podcast! This is actually the first place I’ve spoken about it, so you get the exclusive LOL. I’ve become really close with a few of my bookstagram friends IRL, and we decided to start a podcast together. Instead of talking about one book for the whole episode, we each talk about a book that we’ve read recently. The four of us are all really different, so we end up talking about a wide variety of books. I’ve found myself laughing out loud while listening back to episodes. It’s been so much fun to work on, and I can’t wait for everyone to listen. Books and the City launched yesterday, so make sure you check it out wherever you listen to podcasts!

What does your ideal day look like (think of Miss Congeniality ;))?

I feel like I have a different ideal day for every season, but I’ll go with Summer since it’s my favorite! I’d probably have commuted home the night before so I can wake up at my moms place on Long Island. I’d wake up at 11 and then have a coffee and a bagel, then head to the beach! On the drive over, we’d listen to Classic Rock only.  Once there, I would read literally all day. I’d take some bookstagram pics because I feel like my feed really thrives in the Summer months. Obviously would have to get some fries and have one (or a few) Whiteclaws. Once the sun starts to go down, I’d go home, jump in the pool, and then go out to eat with my family. The night would end with either a Real Housewives marathon, or with friends coming over to hang out. 

What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?

I pretty much have amnesia, but I recently remembered that one of my friends and I used to have designated “reading time” at all of our sleepovers. I’m trying to bring that back. My favorite books were the Fairy Realm books by Emily Rodda. I remember my Grandma buying me the boxed set. I was a pretty anxious kid, so looking back, I think I used those books as escapism in the same way I do now with fantasy books.

I love your frankness about anxiety on your account, especially since I too deal with anxiety on a daily basis! What are your favorite de-stress activities?

First of all, thank you for recognizing that! I think it’s really important for people to talk about their mental health, and I always try to be honest instead of lying and saying that everything is fine. As for de-stressing, it kind of depends on what exactly is making me anxious. I get into headspaces where I’m super overwhelmed by my emotions/stress and in those cases I need to go home and be alone. I’ll take a hot shower, make dinner, maybe have a glass of wine, and either watch a show or dive into a book. Other times, on the exact opposite end, I need to be with people. I’ll go out to dinner with my sister, or out with friends and just try to distract myself. I almost always need to talk it out, though.  I stopped going to therapy in June, so I’ll call my mom and talk through how I’m feeling. She deals with anxiety too, so she understands that I can’t control how I’m feeling and that really helps.

[blogger note: I’m so jealous you have a support system like your mom- sometimes I find it so rough to try and talk about it with family because they don’t know what it’s like!]

I feel like New York City is another character on your bookstagram! What are your favorite places to see and things to do in the city-especially bookish related?

I feel like I don’t do enough bookish things in the city! I’m making it a goal of mine to start touring all of the independent bookstores, and to spend a day at the NYPL on Fifth Ave. I live in the Lower East Side, so I’ve been trying to explore the neighborhood a bit more every weekend. I’m always looking for new restaurants and bars to try. To be completely honest though, I’m such a homebody, and really love hanging out at my apartment. I justify that by thinking about how much money I pay to live there LOL .

Besides reading and being downright fabulous, what else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Besides for reading, my two greatest loves are music and fashion. I went to a fashion school for college, and work in the industry now. It sounds so cliché, but I love shopping. I get so much joy out of putting looks together. I also LOVE live music. I’ve been to over 100 concerts (it’s insane, I know) and I would go to a show every night if I could. Just give me a good book, a good outfit, and good music and I’m set for life.

This is a weird question, I know, but I live my life as if I have an awesome movie soundtrack going on in the background. If your life was a movie and had a soundtrack, what would your entrance song be?

This is probably a really weird choice but it would be “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit. My aunts and uncles are only about 15 years older than me, and when we would all go on vacation together every Summer, that was always the unofficial “theme song.” Since my siblings and I grew up with that, we carry the torch now whenever we’re out, and it’s become our official theme song.

Okay, back to bookstagram! I don’t know about you, but I’ve found some pretty great books through my fellow bookstagrammers! What are your favorite books that you’ve found through bookstagram?

So many! One that immediately comes to mind is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. It was on my radar when it came out, but I ended up passing on it. My friend @readingwithash read it, and told me that she thought I would love it and she was right! I loved it so much, and I think that’s one of my favorite parts of bookstagram. You get to know people and their reading tastes so well, that you’re able to recommend things to them so easily!

 I don’t like to be negative but in my time on bookstagram, I know I’ve gotten some bookstagram pet peeves- do you have any bookstagram pet peeves and if so, what are they?

I have a lot LOL. (Must preface that it’s not bookstagram’s fault. I’m a very particular person and a lot of things annoy me.) One thing that’s been bothering me lately, and may seem like a bit of a contradiction, is people DMing me asking for a recommendation. I’ll get messages like “hey what should I read?” While it’s flattering that they seek my advice, I literally have over 400 posts with book recommendations just sitting there for you to scroll through! It kind of makes me anxious, because I feel like I have to recommend a stranger their perfect book. I also hate when people you’ve never spoken to message you asking to give them a shout out.

While obviously there’s some negatives of bookstagram, it’s also an amazing community of people. What is/are your favorite thing(s) about bookstagram?

Oh my god, so many things. This community is full of genuinely positive people, that just want to support each other. I’ve made so many friends on here, whether it’s just online or in real life. I probably wouldn’t have read half of the books that I read last year if I hadn’t seen them endorsed on bookstagram. I also love when people share snippets of their personal life on their stories. It’s a fun way to get to know each other better.

What advice do you have for bookstagram/book blog newbies?

Be yourself! It’s kind of obvious when you’re being inauthentic. If you just stick true to you, people will connect with your posts and engage. While free books and ARCs can come your way, don’t just join and expect that to happen. You should be here because you want to, and after a lot of hard work, those perks will come. Also, read what you want to read and not what you think you should be reading.

I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?

I have two definitions for this. One is if I can not put the book down while reading it. The other, is if I still catch my mind wandering back to it months, or even years later.

And finally, what are you currently reading?!

I’m currently reading And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton. It’s a historical fiction about Jackie Kennedy that’s coming out in March!

[another blogger’s note: check out Kayla’s review of that book here]

Truly y’all, Kayla is such a light to me and others in the bookstagram community and I’d really recommend following her for book recs, fashion moments, and just general fabulessness on Instagram. Her podcast (@BooksandtheCityPod) with @thelazylibrary, @sleeprunreadrepeat, and @beckyinthebookshelves just dropped yesterday so check it out wherever you get your podcasts!

Until next time friends!

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