Somehow we’ve found ourselves at Friday again (time is an illusion at this point isn’t it?), so that means one thing: it’s time to meeting another bookstagrammer! Today I have the pleasure of checking in with Leah from @leah.rubenstein!
Leah was one of the first people to welcome me on Bookstagram and has been so kind to me! She has a wicked sense of style and her dogs are truly adorable, so scroll down to learn more about her!
Why did you decide to start a bookstagram, then an incredible blog? Which came first?
I started my blog first! The Pretty Good Gatsby was born 9 year ago this August (!) At the time I was a bookseller and thought it would be fun to write about the books I read – I never dreamed that one day I would get ARCs or get blurbed in a book! For years I held off on Instagram, then slowly started posting a photo or two, mostly real life stuff. It wasn’t until maybe two-ish years ago that I finally decided to go all bookstagram.
What does your ideal day look like (think of Miss Congeniality ;))?
RAIN. STORMS. GREY. If I could live somewhere where it thunderstormed 24/7 I would be the happiest girl! So, a stormy day definitely. Warm too – I do NOT like the cold! & obvs curled up with my pups and a book (or five).
[blogger’s note: I loveeeee rainy, stormy days too!]
What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?
It’s not my first memory, but one that absolutely made an impression on me: I’m a September baby, meaning because of my birthday I wasn’t going to be allowed to start school until the following year since I wasn’t 5 by the time the school year started. WELL. My grandpa marched me down there and had me read to the nuns! With the first book, they thought I had memorized it (a Dr. Seuss), so they grabbed one off their shelves. Needless to say, I got to start Kindergarten that year 🙂
What is your favorite bookstore or book-related place?
My local indie, Penguin Bookshop, is a no-brainer: it’s been a town staple for 91 years! As far as places go, I’m not sure if many people know this, but I’m a HUGE Poe fan. I had been lucky enough to visit the Poe House and Museum years ago on a spur-of-the-moment trip. I’ve been back since then and love it so much (the first time I went the curator actually let me sit in an off-limits chair that had belonged to Poe!). Fun fact: Matt’s from Baltimore and visits back home are the perfect excuse to do some Poe site-seeing.
You love history, just like me! What are your favorite eras of the past and/or what do you love to learn about?
Oh gosh, more like what eras AREN’T my favorite?? I will read any and all things Tsarist Russia and the Jazz Age. I also am a big war buff: the American Civil War and the World Wars, specifically. Lately – nerd alert – I’ve been putting on documentaries for background noise and have found myself getting drawn to the Tudor period and Alexander the Great!
You have the cutest doggos, and you are a self-described Slytherpuff- what Hogwarts house(s) would your dogs be in?
Ha!! Baylor is definitely a Ravenclaw – she’s super smart and a problem-solver who loves puzzle toys that make her work for the treat. We nearly had to wait to adopt her because the shelter selected her for a kids’ summer program! I’d say she also has a bit of Slytherin in her too: that intelligence? Sometimes she uses it to trick her poor little brother lol!
As for Nacho… well. I’d say Gryffindor for sure. He’s always up for anything, whether it’s a walk (!!) or a car ride (!!) or FETCH (!!!!), he’s constantly on the move and always needs to be the center of attention.
It’s clear from your bookstagram that you love a good fashion moment! What are your favorite fashion staples, and where do you like to find all your gorg clothes and accessories?!
Ahh, thank you! I have never considered myself fashionable – that would be my mom and sisters. Where I grew up, I was one of the only kids who didn’t live on a farm; every year the school had a Cow Patty Bingo raffle on the football field (for YEARS Matt refused to believe this was a real thing!) so not a whole lot of fashionista moments back then! It wasn’t until the past few years that I started really taking an interest in clothes. I love supporting small shops, both local and online, and that’s now where the majority of my clothes come from – though I can’t pass up a good Old Navy sale! I’m 100% a dress and skirt girl, those are by far my go-to, easy throw-on outfits, and lately I’ve been on a blazer kick.
I imagine my life as being accompanied by a pretty cool movie soundtrack so I gotta ask: if your life was a movie and had a soundtrack, what would your entrance song be?
This completely goes against my love of grey, stormy days, but ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”! I can’t not dance along whenever I hear it!
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?
I’m normally pretty good at avoiding hype, but when I was first branching out into contemporary romance (I tend to stick to historicals), Jennifer Crusie came highly recommended by a bunch of bookstagrammers! Red, White, & Royal Blue and Waiting for Tom Hanks are two I (finally) picked up after seeing them everywhere and just about kicked myself for sitting on them for so long!
I know in my short time on bookstagram that I’ve gotten some pet peeves- do you have any bookstagram pet peeves and if so, what are they?
When stories are only giveaway entries. And I constantly see the “let’s get this person to x followers!”
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?
Without sounding too sappy, I love how caring the community is. Whether it’s due to tragedy (a few months ago posts were making the rounds after one blogger’s house burned down and she lost everything) or just a daily/weekly mental health check in: how are you doing today, did you remember to drink enough water, if you’re feeling sad here are a bunch of puppy gifs! I honestly feel like I could reach out to pretty much anyone I follow and they’d be there for me, whether I need to rant about/gush over a book or if I need a shoulder to cry on.
What advice do you have for bookstagram/book blog newbies?
Don’t be a lurker! Back when I first got into blogging this was the number one piece of advice I got. Comment! Reach out and say hi! You’re going to meet so many more people that way than if you’re just anonymously scrolling through feeds. I’m definitely the kind of person who will check out someone’s IG/blog if there’s a comment that catches my eye.
I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?
It’s a great read if it’s one I keep thinking about months, years, literally hundreds of books later. I’m not much of a re-reader, so if I’m making the time to revisit a book, you know it’s a special one.
And finally, what are you currently reading?!
I just finished Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes, a Middle Grade novel about a pair of biracial brothers, one with skin much darker than the other, and how differently they’re both perceived at their new private school (one has a much better experience and, spoiler alert, it’s not the brother that takes after their blue-eyed, blonde dad). It’s barely over 200 pages, but was a gut punch of a novel.
I’m about to jump into something totally different: Deanna Raybourn’s A Murderous Relation, the next book in her Veronica Speedwell series! 1880s, London! The main character is a lepidopterist! There’s banter! This latest book features Jack the Ripper. If you haven’t fallen for this series yet, do yourself a favor and get on it.
Y’all, not only is Leah’s feed full of fabulous fashion moments and puppy pics, but she has a great taste in books! Follow her on Instagram here, and then do yourself a favor and follow her blog over here! I’m so honored she agreed to do this series.
Until next time…