Today I caught up with Hikari Loftus, the gal behind the camera at @foldedpagesdistillery, to talk bookish pics, Insta tips and fave reads.
Hikari’s pics are a huge inspiration to many of us bookstagrammers, and if you’ve spent any time surfing the bookish hashtags, you’re likely familiar with her bright and beautifully deatiled flatlays. Here are just a few favourites:
Hikari, thanks so much for joining me! Can you start by sharing a little about yourself: Where are you from? What do you when you’re not on Insta? How did you get into bookstagramming?
I currently live in Salt Lake City, UT, but will be moving to Palo Alto, CA at the end of May. My husband and I have one human child and two Pug children. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and have written for newspapers and magazines for the last ten years. When my daughter was born three years ago, I decided to stay home with her, quit my beat at the newspaper and took on book reviews and author interviews at my city newspaper. I can do those things from home and it’s a true dream job. Interviewing authors I admire and reading for work is far from my political reporting aspirations, but turned out to be much better.
I started a book review blog with my friends a couple years ago and last year I got this SUPER ORIGINAL idea to make an Instagram that featured only books to share reviews and be a place to talk about books. Turns out I was not the only one with this brilliant idea. Haha. And I have loved being in the Bookstagram community.
Can you tell us a bit about your Insta account: What inspires your posts? Do you have a particular aesthetic or theme? Has your account changed/developed over time?
The books I am reading inspire my posts. I have tried to put items into my photos that represent the book to me. I have always admired fashion flatlay styles, and I often do similar styles featuring books. When I first started Bookstagramming, I was literally throwing books onto my couch in the middle of the night and taking grainy photos in the poor lamp light. It took me a couple months to realize that Instagram was a creative opportunity and I could use it as a form of expression.
What camera(s) and editing software (if any) do you use for your pics?
I only use my iPhone. I use Phonto app to add text to my photos and VSCO app to edit or filter photos.
How often do you post and do you plan posts in advance, or are they more spontaneous?
I try to post only once a day. Interacting with friends on Instagram, answering questions, coming up with captions, taking photos… those things can take up a lot of time. By only posting once, it makes it easy for me to keep up with everyone and not let it interfere much with other responsibilities I have. I have an Instagram planner specifically for posts. I include book release dates, bookish holidays/birthdays, and other things like that so I don’t forget. If I plan my posts out in advance, then I can plan meaningful captions or just keep myself organized.
What do you think makes a good post?
I think a good post is one that inspires thought and interaction. That’s why I like asking questions in my caption. I love reading what other people have to say about a book or character or author. Anything that inspires learning and community is a good post in my opinion.
What do you love most about being part of the bookstagram community?
I love making friends! I have made many friends on Bookstagram that have turned into real life friends. Friends who I visit, call and text. Some of the people I talk with often via text or phone are people I haven’t ever met in real life! And since we’re all bookworms, most of our conversations are about books. I love it. (mind you, I don’t recommend just giving your phone number to just anyone on the internet. These were people that I have slowly come to know and trust over time.)
Is there anything you’d like to see change/improve in the community?
I have had very very few bad experiences in this community and have only ever had two mean comments written in my Instagram comments over the last year and a half. I think that speaks highly of the type of people that participate in this community. So far I have no complaints.
Who are some of the bookstagrammers who inspire you?
I feel like this one is too hard to answer. There are MANY and I will absolutely forget someone, I just know it.
My top four accounts have always been @ursula_uriarte, @_halfbl00dprincess, @youngadultbookaddict, and @thebookorder. When I joined Instagram early last year, those four were the accounts I wanted to be like. They take amazing pictures and always have excellent book recommendations. They will always be my Bookstagram idols.
Some of my other top favorites include;
What kinds of books do you like to read?
I try to read widely and diversely, but my first love is fantasy or paranormal. I generally do not read horror (ruins my life) and I’m not into heavy romance or erotica. I rarely read non-fiction. But otherwise, I try to dabble a bit in everything.
What are three key things you look for in a good story?
I like good character development and growth. If I don’t come to care for a character, then the whole book feels a bit pointless to me.
Action! It doesn’t have to be fighting, I just mean, things have to be happening. If I’m not anticipating anything or nothing seems to be happening at all, I lose interest.
Love. I’m not even talking romantic. There needs to be a solid relationship either in place or forming. Family ties, romantic ties, friendships… these are the emotions that make stories come to life for me. I may not be able to relate to space travel, but I can relate to love and friendship. When these things are involved, the story means more to me.
What do you love most about reading, and why do you believe reading is important?
I love that reading transports me and inspires me. I am not against audiobooks at all, but I realized lately it’s a lesser experience for me. I missed SEEING the beautifully crafted sentences and word choices. I like seeing word craft. So the actual reading is something I enjoy. I believe reading is SUPER important. It helps us gain empathy, it shows us another point of view, expands our imagination, betters our vocabulary, makes us a little braver, helps us feel less lonely. I feel like reading has shaped my character and my world view for the better.
What’s been your favourite read so far this year?
What five books should everyone reading this add to their TBR pile?
This list is assuming you have already read Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. If you haven’t, those are on the top of my list.
Penryn and the End of Days trilogy
What advice would you give to new bookstagrammers?
Everyone always asks me how I take my pictures or what they should write about, and my answer is always this: Do something that stretches you creatively, but doesn’t feel like work to you. If you don’t enjoy it, it shows and it’s less fun and more of a burden.
Use the library. Bookstagram isn’t about owning books or being the first to have a new book.
In the beginning I used to only post about books that were popular because I thought that was what people wanted to see. But the truth is, people have appreciated my posts that are books they have never heard about or books that inspire discussion, no matter how popular they are. Just talk about what you are reading and what you love. Your own passion and enthusiasm is what makes the account.
And finally, where else can we find you talking books?
Twitter: FPDistillery (Twitter account is run by one of my blog mates)
I am on Goodreads, but I only use it to track my reading progress. I rarely post reviews there.
If you haven’t yet, pop over to @foldedpagesdistillery and say hi to Hikari and see what she’s reading on Instagram.
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