Hi there everyone, hope you are all doing well! After having a blast with my first post of “Behind the Blog of…” featuring Norrie @ Reading Under the Blankie, I am back now with another blogger I would like to interview, Alex from The Paperback Piano!
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in the North East of England in a little mining village, but now live by the sea in Northern Ireland. I studied psychology at the University of Glasgow – so living in three of the four UK countries has given me a bit of a mixed-up accent! I’m working towards a career in child counselling, currently studying for my diploma whilst gaining experience as a support worker for mentally disabled children and young people.
Other than working, I can often be found playing the piano (which I actually did professionally for a period of time). I often attend the gym which I’ve found is a great mental health boost (since I struggle with an anxiety disorder which developed while I was at university).
And of course, books are a huge part of my life. While I was at university, reading really took a back seat because I was just so overwhelmed by all the pressures. After graduating, my love of books was rekindled when I discovered the bookstagram community on Instagram.
What other interests or passions do you have other than reading books and writing on your blog?
Obviously, music is a big passion of mine. I began learning to play the piano when I was five years old and have the ability to learn songs simply by listening to them. Playing is a great form of escapism for me. I love walking on the beach and spending time in nature. And, of course, I’ve developed a bit of a passion for photography thanks to bookstagram!
I’m also quite crafty, though I rarely have time for that these days! I dabble in a lot of things. I used to run a school art club and I’m hoping to one day use art therapy in my career, so I’m always on the lookout for ideas. Pinterest is the best friend of the crafter! Hehe. I’ve done a lot of beadcraft and I also make random things, whatever takes my fancy really. But I can’t draw to save my life!
What got you into blogging, and why did you choose to make a book blog?
I was actually active first in bookstagram for a year before I plucked up the courage to start a blog (with the encouragement of friends!) I met some great people through the site and even joined an online book club which I’m still part of today. I found that I was so enjoying hearing what other people had to say about the books they were reading that I wanted to do it too! And blogging seemed to be a great way to get my thoughts out there.
So I’ve now been bookstagramming for 2 and a half years but only blogging for 1 and a half. I know I’m not a huge presence as a blogger but every single follow/interaction really does mean so much to me; as an anxious person, it gives me such a boost when anyone is interested in what I have to say!
What do you think is the most unique feature you have on your blog that you’re most proud of?
I don’t really feel like I’m very unique! There are so many amazing bloggers out there who are more original than me! I do, however, have a couple of blog series that I created that I’m quite pleased with.
One is my ‘five reasons to read’ series – I have been rereading more books this year but I still wanted to talk about them so this was a perfect way to analyse further and recommend some of my favourites! My other blog series is ‘Alex’s Alphabeticals’. In this series, I list my favourite Authors, Books and Characters (ABCs) for each letter of the alphabet. I’ve done A-D so far and hope to get this one up and running regularly again soon! I’m also really proud of my monthly favourites post in which I share blogs from around the community which I have enjoyed during the month.
Some of my favourite posts by Alex:
- 5 reasons to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Alex’s Alphabeticals: D
- Discussion: Reaction to the Goodreads Choice Awards
What do you like and dislike the most about blogging?
I absolutely adore the blogging community. There are so many wonderful people here and I really value the friendships I’ve made. Most of the people I’m surrounded by in everyday life don’t read so it’s great to find that there are other book nerds out there. You are my people!
I also love finding out about amazing books I might not otherwise have heard of. I lived a much more secluded life before – I rarely kept up with new releases but I feel much more on the ball now! Though it has made my TBR list about a thousand miles long!
My only slight dislike about blogging is how hard it is to fit in around work and everything else I have going on. Sometimes I feel pressured to get a post up and it takes some of the fun out of it.
What do you think your blog will be like in five years?
I would love to see my blog grow! I know everyone says it’s not about numbers but reaching more people is surely everyone’s blogging dream. I would also love to introduce more unique features to my blog and write more discussion posts to engage with lovely readers. I really want to learn how to use HTML to make my blog prettier! It would also be amazing to be able to promote more hyped books/ARCs but of course, any of this is a huge bonus!
How often do you write and post your blog posts? Do you have a system or a schedule?
My blog posts are somewhat dependent on what I’m doing on Instagram. I like to post a book review every third post on Instagram which means that I usually post a review on my blog every 3-4 days.
I like to try and post something different after every couple of reviews so that my readers don’t get bored. My unusual shift pattern means that I tend to just write posts whenever I can and post them immediately afterwards. (I admit it’s probably not the best way to do it!)
Any blogging tips for newbie bloggers?
You do you. It’s so easy to be drawn in to what everyone else is doing and feel like you have to become a carbon copy in order to have any kind of success. Talk about the kind of books you like to read and don’t worry if you’re not on board the same hype train as everyone else.
I would also suggest keeping a blogging notebook. Somewhere you can write down ideas as they come to you, keep track of what reviews you need to write, dates of any blog tours you’re involved with, etc. It will definitely keep you sane being able to see everything at a glance!
As a newbie bookstagrammer myself, I am definitely looking for tips and tricks. What are some of your tips for making great bookstagram photos?
Natural light is SO important! I try to maximise the light (as much as I can here in Northern Ireland) by opening the curtains/blinds as wide as possible, taking my photos near the window, and taking them at a time of day when the light is best.
I do try to stick to a theme. I know some people say theme is not important but I find that I like the consistency in my feed. It’s a personal choice. In terms of props, I have a few basic seasonal items that I will rotate – so in the summer, I used a lot of flowers and a light summery scarf; now I’m using pine cones, candles and cosy jumpers for a more autumnal look. I’ll be changing it up again as we get nearer Christmas 😉
And finally, I used to take my pictures every day, as and when I needed them. I quickly realised that, with all my other commitments, this wasn’t viable. Now, I’ll have a big photoshoot using a couple of similar setups, maybe once a fortnight. That way, I’ve got a few pictures to keep me going if life gets extra busy or if we have a run of bad weather that makes photo-taking difficult!
How do you manage your time between posting on your blog, posting Instagram photos, and everything in general, but also actually reading books?
Oh gosh, my time management is shocking right now! I used to just fit it all in wherever I could but now that I’m working full-time and studying, I need a bit more structure. I’ve actually made myself a weekly timetable with slots for reading, drafting posts and blog-hopping. Bookstagram actually tends to be the easiest one to take care of, at least on the days I’m not working late shift – I usually post and catch up with comments after my evening meal!
And finally, back to the books
What are your recent favourite reads?
How do you decide what to read next?
I try to mood read as much as possible but it depends how much pressure I’m under with review books. I’ll usually try to alternate, following each review book with a more selfish choice! I usually make a shortlist of books I might feel like reading and then pick whichever calls to me the most.
What is your reading habits everyday?
I try to fit in as much reading time as possible! As I mentioned earlier, I work weird shifts, very long and unsociable hours, so it can be difficult to find time for reading. I usually listen to an audiobook during my commute to work. Other than that, the one habit I stick to firmly is reading before bed. It’s part of my winding down routine and I don’t feel right if I skip it!
Your study of psychology is so interesting! Do you find that you are then more intrigued to read books related to your study/work (not just nonfiction ones but also fiction novels that involve mental illnesses, for example).
I definitely have a greater interest in reading books with mental health themes. I’m always a little wary because sometimes the representation can be hurtful (speaking from personal experience here). But when it’s done right, it can be so good and so valuable for readers. I’m actually hoping to start integrating more mental health stuff into my blog eventually (you heard it here first!)
I really enjoyed reading about Alex’s answers – it’s clear she definitely adores writing, blogging, and books in general. Her Instagram feed is AMAZING, I love her use of props and her theme that incorporates her love of her piano into her books. She has amazing and creative blog posts and series that I always click on whenever I see in my Reader. Thank you so so much Alex for taking your time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it!
So if you haven’t checked out or followed Alex’s blog at The Paperback Piano, you definitely should! Until next time, hope you have a great week 🙂