The Next Chapter

Candy Palmater on the Instagram book community

Columnist Candy Palmater on the pros and cons of book talk in online communities.
On Instagram, entertainer Candy Palmater shares bookish photos (among other things) — including this #teaandbooks moment from her winter reading. (@thecandyshow Twitter / Instagram)

Goodreads is the largest community on the internet for book reviews and discussion, but it isn't the only option — book-loving communities have sprung up on Instagram and YouTube, often hosted by young women.

Columnist Candy Palmater joined Shelagh Rogers in the studio to talk about the pros and cons of these online communities.

Books and socks

The Instagram book community in particular fascinates me. There's this whole visual aspect. You'll see different trends from season to season. One season it was all books with beverages — books with tea, or books with coffee. Last year it was books and socks — everyone reading with their knee socks on. So you're thinking about what book you're going to read, but you're also thinking, "I should get a good pair of kneesocks to go with this book!" So, is this good or is this bad? There's a certain commercial aspect to it, and at the same time that I love that it's young girls and women, I worry about that.

Why she doesn't like reading challenges

I take part in the [Goodreads] reading challenge every year, and it amazes me how some of these people will say they're reading 100 books. I don't work a day job — I'm a freelance entertainer — and I read on average about 50 books a year. And that's really reading them, front to back and taking notes. So I question, when somebody with a 40-hour-a-week job says they're reading 120 books a year, if they're really doing any kind of real reading. I don't think it should be a contest. I understand setting goals so you dedicate the time, but I don't think your relationship with books should be a rush to see who can get the most done.

On the romance of reading (and looking at pictures of other people reading)

As readers, whether you read fiction or nonfiction, whether you want to admit it or not, all of us who love reading are romantics on some level. And these book communities carry that romance. In this world where everything is moving so fast, instead of watching an entire movie or going out to that book club, I can just pull up a picture and look at that beautiful book in her lap in that gorgeous leather library — I am going to go read that book right now and feel like she feels in that library. There's just something about the romance of those pictures.

Candy Palmater's comments have been edited and condensed.