One year ago, around this time, I came across the film ‘Dil Bechara’. This movie was super hyped for two reasons. Primarily because the lead actor dies mysteriously weeks before the premiere and it was the Hindi adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars. I’ve been an avid reader throughout my childhood, however high school disconnected me from books as I busied myself with academics and loads of extra-curricular activities. After seeing the trailer, I knew that I had to read the book before watching the movie. This is like the standard rule of readers, right?
So that’s how I got back to reading during the pandemic. I instantly fell into love with this new world of young-adult literature, sharing stories of people I could relate to. Needless to say, surviving a pandemic is not easy and it took a toll on my mental health. My exams were cancelled, classes postponed and a veil of uncertainty surrounded everything, including life. In these trying times, books allowed me to escape in a parallel universe where things were normal. It made me believe that everything would be fine and life takes unexpected turns.
It was easy to lose myself within the pages and that’s what I did for weeks. The end result was a long list of book reviews. I maintained a record of all my reads jotting down short reviews besides the rating. It felt personal to capture this beautiful journey. I had never imagined that I would be opening this part of my life for everyone to see. Quite soon, I ran out of book recommendations and stumbled upon a hashtag that made reading even more better.
The bookstagram community connected me to hundreds of like-minded people across the world. It reinforced the reality of Covid-19 and this time I was surrounded by people who felt the same way as I did. I don’t know how to process it; perhaps it was a sense of comfort or a sigh of relief. Whatever it was, it made me a better reader. What’s more, I could share my love for books with people who actually resonated with my thoughts. And just like that, I picked up a new pandemic hobby. Clicking pretty pictures of my books and penning precise reviews became my favorite pastime.
There is something oddly satisfying about being in a book community. It goes beyond the love for books as we engage with different types of readers. Bookstagram posts are not only restricted to bookish discussions as bloggers often incorporate topics like pandemic life and mental health issues within their posts. They are trying to normalize mental healthcare by sharing their personal stories and talking about books that shed light on this topic. I came across a large number of books that feature protagonists who indirectly advocate for mental health by creating a sense of confidence with the readers.
It’s been almost a year since I started book blogging and I already feel a strong connection with the community. This platform has ignited a new kind of readership within me as I am more aware about books that need attention or new releases to promote. At one time, reading used to be my stressbuster activity but talking about it is like adding a cherry on the top. I have been introduced to hundreds of new characters who have all impacted me in some way or other. I have travelled to several regions while sitting in my room with a cup of coffee in my hand. I have gained so much experience that I would not be able to sum it up.
Book blogging did several things to me, but most importantly it made me rediscover myself. I had forgotten the pleasure of reading and it made me reminisce all those hours I spent at my school library, finishing one book after another. I finally escaped years of reader’s block and learnt to accept that simple mood lifting activities can do wonders. Content creation is not easy but with a shared love for reading and writing, I have incorporated this hobby into my lifestyle. What keeps me going is the fact that there are thousands of stories waiting to be explored and hundreds of books to be read.
So here’s to reading, scribbling and blogging!
Maisha Islam Monamee is a freelance journalist. Apart from writing for The Daily Star, Monamee likes to read her way through life’s little problems. Follow her, @monameereads on Instagram.