It’s another Friday friends, and we’re still kicking! It’s time to meet another fabulous and fantastic bookstagrammer, and today I had the biggest dang treat of chatting with the one, the only, Katie from @shelfmadewoman!
I’ve followed Kati for quite some time and been a big ol’ fan of her content, her book selection, and of course her sweet lil doggo Bailey! I’m so honored she agreed to be part of this series and without further ado, here’s our chat!
What inspired you to start a bookstagram?
I started my bookstagram as a way to read more! I was aware of a few bookstagrammers and admired their knowledge of the publishing industry and new releases. I wanted to be a part of that hype culture for current books that I saw them participate in. It was exciting to find so many new books for my TBR (To Be Read) shelf, but little did I know how out of hand my unread list would get!
A lot of people choose their username to include their name, but you didn’t (and I love it)! What was the thought process behind your username/blog title?
My handle was originally “puppiesandparchment” and I am so glad I changed it… I knew so few bookstagram accounts that I had no idea people used their names! At the time when I started I was working as a dog sitter and walker. My idea was to combine my two passions: dogs and books. But I decided to “rebrand” when I stepped away from the canine business. I admired accounts who played off of bookish words. My real life friends nixed so many of my original ideas (like “feelingmyshelf”). Shelf Made Woman just popped up one day and it felt so aligned with who I am and what my messages were.
[blogger note: OMG I REMEMBER PUPPIESANDPARCHMENT!!!]
What does your ideal day look like (think of Miss Congeniality ;))?
It would be a Saturday, of course. I would wake up Bailey (my puppy) and get some morning snuggles and kisses. The rest of the day would go back and forth from reading and cooking meals with my partner (tacos for dinner, obviously). Ideally it would be thunderstorming, but cold inside our apartment. And with absolutely nothing that I have to do all day.
[another blogger note: I have never met Bailey but I can say with ABSOLUTE certainty that I would both kill and die for him- I can’t believe I forgot to ask more about him in this post!!!]
What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?
I remember going to the library in the summer and checking out huge stacks of books from the middle grade and teen sections (wayyyyy before I was a teen). I have very little memory of what the books actually were. However, I do remember that I would spend hours at home reading them while laying on my side with my head propped up on my arm. The long periods in this position (combined with a joint problem I have) would cause my shoulder to slip out of its socket. It was incredibly painful at the time, but I find it hilarious now.
I know you love to shop for books, so what is your favorite bookstore or book-related place?
Oh wow. This is a loaded question. My absolute favorite place to get books is Women & Children First, an independent feminist bookstore in Chicago.The staff is amazing. The events are out of this world. Their mission is unmatched. I would give them every cent of mine if I could.
I also love Libro.fm for audiobooks. I’m a huge audiobook listener, and they make it so that my money I put towards audiobooks goes to the independent bookstore of my choice (which is obviously Women & Children First).
You are incredibly frank about mental health on your bookstagram, doing consistent story check-ins and even leading some meditation sessions! Really, it’s one of my favorite things about your account (and you). What draws you to be as honest as you are, and what do you want others to know about mental health?
CW: Suicide, Mental Illness, and Panic Attacks
In 2007, my older brother died by suicide. Tony was 15 (I was 11) and he was severely depressed. The trauma of my brother’s suicide changed me in many ways. When I turned 16 I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. I was having panic attacks every night; I would have an attack, black out, and wake up in the middle of the night to finish my homework. I was a straight A student, in a ballet company, and choreographing our school musicals. No one knew that I was struggling.
I first experienced feeling suicidal in college. That’s when I realized how easy it is for someone with mental illness to slip through the cracks. If I was determined to die, I would not be here today. The fact is, I don’t want to die. I want to live. But my mental illness leaves me in moments of hopelessness that make me want to end all of the struggle.
I know what it’s like to see someone die by suicide and to be suicidal. Having that perspective is why I advocate for mental illness awareness. It takes a lot of work to take care of myself, not even including the work it takes to fight the stigma of mental illness. Many people will never get the help they need because the stigma around therapy, medicine, and talking about feelings is just too large of a hurdle. I am doing the bare minimum: normalizing a life with mental illness.
[yet another blogger’s note: ugh Kati I love you so much THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO]
Another thing I love about your account (and again you) is your commitment to raising and amplifying diverse voices and perspectives. What books featuring marginalized voices and experiences (or marginalized authors) do you wish more people, particularly on bookstagram, would read?
This is a great question, and one I’m not sure how to answer because I’m still working on diversifying my reading. My goal is to read as many different perspectives as possible. In the last year that has meant reading more books by non-white people. Now that I’m reading more books by people of color, I think I want to find more books about queerness and mental illness by people of color. The issue with bookstagram’s lack of diversity is actually a publishing problem. If publishing was more diverse, maybe our accounts would be as well. I encourage people to look at bookstagrammers who don’t follow the trends, but who sift through the new releases to find the marginalised voices that need to be highlighted.
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?
On a sunny day, “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. On a gloomy day it would be “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.
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?
Wow, so many good books have come from bookstagram recommendations! Shout outs include Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco, My Time Among the Whites by Jennine Capó Crucet, and Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston.
I know in the time that I’ve been on bookstagram (and I dislike being negative) I’ve gotten some pet peeves – have you formed any pet peeves and if so, what are they?
I really hate when bookstagrammers post books from publishers that they did not request and that they have no idea if they will like. The problem with this is that books with high budgets that have thousands of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) given out get tons of exposure without any merit. It’s a nasty trick to get people to buy books. I really don’t like it.
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?
I think almost everyone agrees that it’s the people. Book people can be the kindest people. I have met bookstagrammers who understand me and my book obsessions better than anyone else (especially since my partner isn’t a big reader).
What advice do you have for bookstagram newbies?
Don’t feed into the hype and spend your money on books that you see others getting just because you think it will help your account. I have bought so many new releases to be a part of the club, and I have hated almost all of them.
[hark, another blogger’s note: I co-sign this wholeheartedly! Read and post the books you enjoy because tbh I’m tired of seeing the same dang books on my feed every single day.]
I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?
This is a great question! I’m not sure, but I do believe that timing has a lot to do with it. There are so many books I start to read and have to put down because it’s not the right time. When I pick those books up later, I love them! I am a mood reader, so I have to find the books that fit my feelings.
And finally, what are you currently reading?!
I’m in two book clubs! So I’m reading Emma by Jane Austen for one and Writers & Lovers by Lily King for the other. I’m also reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and I just finished Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen with Tom Rasmussen.
In addition to being just a geniune ray of light in the bookstagram community, Kati also recently started a podcast with her BFF Kelsey! You can follow Books and Boobs on Instagram here, and you can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify! And if you’re not following Kati already, you should really get on that by following this link!
Until next time friends!