Meet the Podcasters: @TheBookAdvocate & @StaxsOnStaxs

Hi friends, remember me? So yeah, I was gone for a month and then rebranded and redesigned the whole blog…so I thought the least I could do would be to bring back a beloved blog series: Meet the Bookstagrammer! Except today we have a little twist on it- it’s Meet the Podcasters! Yes TWO PEOPLE who I love DEARLY!

Alex from @thebookadvocate and Sam from @staxsonstaxs, AKA the fantastic and fabulous hosts of The Booksta Gays (@thebookstagays) podcast ❤️

The women came full force into my life through our Queer Ladies of Booksta chat (which, no lie, has been a true lifesaver during this pandemic). Truly they are two of the kindest, loveliest people on the entirety of bookstagram, and they were so kind to have me on their podcast (the episode is out today and can be listened to on whatever platform you prefer ❤️)

Without further ado, please acquaint yourselves with these incredible hype women!

Why did you both decide to start a bookstagram?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I started a bookstagram when I was living by myself for the first time as an adult and wanted something and some place to talk to people. I had seen an Owlcrate ad on social media and bought one, and then through their account and hashtags realized there were … thousands of people who shared and talked about and loved books. I immediately made an account!

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Oh, something dramatic happened in my life and I wanted to get off my personal Instagram for a bit. 😂😂 I had been following some bookstagrammers already and I made the jump! 

Obviously you are both queer bookstagram icons, so what brought you two together to create the instant podcast classic The Booksta Gays? What do you hope your podcast will do?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

Oh we are not icons!!!! Never haha, but thank you so much.

To be honest, Sam and I just “found each other” in May! And we randomly were talking in DMs and the topic changed to how cool it would be to have a podcast. And then, we were like “oh I would, totally. Would you? Okay, but WOULD you? Are we serious or nah?” And turns out we were both in and the idea was born from there. We really never even anticipated the podcast being this accepted, we just wanted a place to discuss queer books and talk to other queer bookstagrammers about life and books. Since that’s the kind of thing WE would want to listen to. We’re hoping that it will just grow and grow and we can continue to share the queer love with everyone!

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Oh my gosh. This just made me laugh! I definitely don’t think we are icons but it’s kinda a funny story! Alex and I definitely didn’t know each other before and we’ve totally never met before!

I so hope that our podcast will make queer bookstagrammers feel less alone and find a sense of community while also educating our allies and promoting good books! 

[blogger’s note: your podcast is seriously amazing- I feel like every episode is a special conversation that I’m apart of even when I’m not a guest!]

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

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

October 19th. Fall. Halloween vibes. Just need a light sweater … Just kidding  My ideal day waking up naturally (no alarm!) but still before everyone else, making coffee, sitting with my dogs on the porch, reading. It’s a little chilly. And honestly that’s about it. Maybe dog beach with the fam. But I’m very low-key and just like to stay at home and relax and read. OH, throw in some really good food and I’m set.

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My story starts with shame. I was 28. Raised in the Southern Baptist church for most all my Life, went to a Christian college… became a teacher in a southern rural town just slippin into the Bible Belt. I remember someone once told me that I would fall in love fast and hard when it happened and I laughed. Hell no. I was happy, content being on my own and living my best life-dogs,books, treehouse, and Parksand Rec. And then things changed. I met a girl and I fell in love with her. A feeling that I still can’t describe adequately. I gave up Thanksgiving and birthdays to be with her. It was fast, it was exciting, and it was something I had never felt before with anyone, especially this fantasy man that people described. And then things changed. . . . I was alone, with this new identity. I remember thinking that I have never felt anything like what I felt with her with a man. I remember binging all of The L Word and Orange is the New Black because I felt some inkling of feeling seen. I’ve come to term with myself now. I remember reading Evelyn Hugo and sobbing because I understood her love. THIS. THIS is what pride means to me. . . . Next week kicks off pride. June starts. I am asking something of you all. You can do the rainbow stacks but haven’t we done them already? read at least one LGBTQ+ author or book that represents (need help? Scroll to the next slide 😎) Read it and tell me what pride means to you. Maybe it means your cousin or your aunt or your brother. Maybe it means your best friend or the person you work with, maybe it’s you. Tag me @staxsonstaxs and use the #gettinglitwithpride. I’ll be sharing all month your posts and sharing my journey with some good rep reading! Any person with this hashtag is entered to win a LGBTQ+ book of their choice. . . . #lgbtqreads #pridereading #prideinreading #readwithpride #lgbtq🌈 #junereading #lgbtqedit #bookchallenge #junepridechallenge #readingisfundamental #gettinglitwithbooks #bibliophile #booksonbooks #staxsonstaxs #booknerd #bookstagramcommunity #booksbooksbooks #whereismyabbywombach

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Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Coffee and banana bread on my porch in the morning. It’s cool and my flowers are thriving. My house is clean and I have a wonderful book that I’ve never read before. Somehow swimming, my fam, good beer, and a bonfire are involved. Maybe an 80s playlist 😉

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

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I don’t have an explicit memory, but my dad is a huge reader and I remember him reading all the time when I was super little and how he had a huge library in his home office. And naturally, I just also became a reader.

I loved so many books, so it’s hard to pick. I read anything I could get my hands on. But a childhood favorite was A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett (among dozens of others but you know, narrowing down). 

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Man. Tamara Pearce and Gail Carson Levine were huge. I remember going to the library at the river constantly and rechecking those books out. 

[another blogger’s note: I still have my beat up original copy of Ella Enchanted. For reasons.]

If you could go back in time and give your baby gay selves a particular book, what would it be and why?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

Wow. Uhm like every queer book?

But really, I would just want ANY queer book. I think seeing any queer person represented in my books as a child/teenager would have opened my mind more to the possibility of being queer, but also to just being more empathetic and aware of other communities of people. I’m not picky, I would have taken any thing at that age!

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

I would give Sam Land Juliet Takes a Breath (by Gabby Rivera) in college. That book would have given so much insight. Oh how I wish I would have had a book like that.

In that vein, what is/are some of your favorite underrated book(s) you don’t think that enough people read or hype?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I will forever hype up Ashley Herring Blake. I love ALL of her books, so many good YA/Middle Grade queer f/f books. And she just announced her Berkley Romance ADULT f/f book for 2022 and I am stoked. I don’t see her books around bookstagram as much but they are my favorites and some of my first queer reads when I was figuring myself out. I will forever read everything she publishes. 

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Anything by TJ Klune. Or Elizabeth Acevedo. They deserve all the praise.

But also on a completely different side, Sarah Addison Allen. 

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

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

QUINN! So hard! To me, fleshed out characters that you connect with and care about. The plot can be anything and everything. But if I don’t care about the characters or don’t feel connected to them and their lives, then I really don’t care about anything else happening in the book! I want to root for and with the character, cry with them, fall in love with them, feel broken with them, celebrate with them, etc. 

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Something that makes me stop. Whether it’s with nostalgia or a question or with magic, something that captures me and keeps me enthralled. 

I love a good music moment, so I have to ask: what would be your entrance song in a movie made of your life? Am I the only person who imagines their life as a movie soundtrack or???

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

If I could change one thing about the world it would be that music would play out loud when you’re walking around or doing something cool.

Choosing one entrance song is so hard because I have new favorites every five seconds. We all know Sam is going to pick Taylor Swift ;).  I think I’ll do “Tempo” by Lizzo! Always a bop. 

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Oh man… anything Taylor Swift or Fleetwood Mac for sure! Same same! All the time. I make playlists too much in my life!  

[yet another blogger’s note: solid choices friends…minus TSwift I AM SORRY SAM]

I know y’all enjoy thirsting over pretty people just like I do, so I wanna know: who is your queer icon, or your celebrity crush to end all celebrity crushes?!

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

EVERYONE. I have a million celebrity crushes, people are so beautiful. Laverne Cox is probably one of my queer icons. Otherwise I’m generally always obsessed with Sophia Bush and Zoë Kravitz. 

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

My celebrity crush changes daily. Bless it. 😂😂 right now Ellen Page has been pretty consistent and Merritt Wever. Weird spectrums for sure.

Oh wait! And Finley from the L Word. I can just gush about all of them.

[unbelievably, another blogger’s note: Zoë and Merritt can both get it in the most asexual way possible.]

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?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I have really used the last year to follow more BIPOC and queer bookstagrammers. So I would credit every one of my current reads to the people I follow on bookstagram. One of my recent favorites would be You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. 

Since Alex has ZERO posts of herself on her page, we get a dog picture. Because Penelope is a sweet lil bean.

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. Can I scream that louder! Alex made me get it and I’ve never been more grateful! 

I know bookstagram is a big community, but there’s definitely a queer bookstagram subgroup. What is/are your favorite part(s) of this little corner of bookstagram?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I love just feeling like I’m apart of this corner and people GET me and they understand what it is to be queer. Even though we all have different queer identities and different self acceptance/coming out processes, there are so many feelings and thoughts and moments that we share and internally go “oh, you too? It’s not just me. Wow, same same.” And I love that. And then the face that we all love books? And we love gay books even more?! Indescribable joy.  

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Oh man. I didn’t even know this was a real thing, but now that I do I am so about it!

I love the sense of community. I love that there are people who understand me. That I am not a token, but just one of them. Sometimes that is hard on insta. And I really battle. 

You are some serious hype ladies, so please take this space to hype your favorite accounts on the ol’ gram, book shops, book-ish shops….whatever is bringing you joy lately!

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

EVERYONE! Honestly, I love so many accounts.

I will always love on Megan (@booksnblazers) and Allison (@allisonreadsdc) who teach me so much and have theeeee best book recommendations. I truly love so many others so picking more is so hard but (HI SARA @agradstudentreadsforfun and CASEY @caseythereader and JG @theroguerecommender) and I’ve been loving Jimalion’s account for awhile now (@itsabookishworld_). And every single person I follow. I follow them all for a reason.

I don’t follow a lot of shops anymore but I’ll be looking for recommendations! And I will always shout out The Stacks podcast (@thestackspod) and SSR podcast (@ssrpod).

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

OMG THIS IS HARD! Everyone! 

I love Megan (@booksnblazers)!

My GNV squad! My Books Boobs and Booze chat! My Queer Girls chat! 

 What advice do you have for bookstagram / podcast newbies?

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

Just have fun! I know that everyone says that but truly, for most of us, bookstagram is not a job. It’s a hobby. I killed myself back in the day thinking I had to do XYZ in order to “do bookstagram right.” But there is no right way. Post when you want, post what you want, have a theme or don’t, read the popular books or don’t.

My biggest advice other than have fun and do what you want, is to be intentional on who you follow. Follow a diverse amount of accounts. It truly opens your world to other books and authors and readers.

And for podcast newbies? Still a newbie here, just keep trying new things. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong or have a mess up, it takes time to figure it out. We’re not all going to start out sounding professional and having it all together. HAVE FUN.

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

Deep breaths. It’s so much easier to look around you, but don’t.

Find another bookstagrammer who is also learning and growing. You got this.

Reach out. Answer peoples questions in their stories. 

And finally, what are you both currently reading?!

Alex (@thebookadvocate):

I’m reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas, and Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi right now. I go back and forth between all of these and am slowly reading Stamped to fully digest it. I’m loving them all though!

Sam: (@staxsonstaxs):

I am reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju. 

[final blogger’s note, I swear: I’m sensing a theme…is this a sneak peek into an upcoming Booksta Gays ep???]

Truly friends, Alex and Sam are some of the most wonderful humans I’ve been able to get to know through bookstagram and they encourage me to be my loud, queer self- getchu some friends who do the same is all I got to say.

If you don’t follow them, go ahead and click this link to follow Alex and this link to follow Sam. And when I say you don’t want to miss The Booksta Gays, I truly freaking mean it. Keep up to date on new episodes, book discussions, and more by clicking the link below (and yes, I did have to include my post on their page. What can I say, I’m egotistical 🤷)

Until next time sweet friends!

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