My Year As A Caribbean Bookstagrammer

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in the life of a Caribbean Bookstagrammer? I keep inserting the word Caribbean before Bookstagrammer because I think it is important for me to remind myself and you where I am from and why I started this Bookstagram page to begin with.

At the start of 2019 I wrote down a list of goals I wanted to accomplish for BookOfCinz in the next 365 days. Some, like my monthly TBR list were unrealistic, and others, like my Goodreads reading challenge were a bit unambitious. At the heart of it all, the main goal was to get people excited about reading and about reading more Caribbean authors.

So how was my year as Caribbean Bookstagrammer? I would sum it up as a year of learning, making my mark, and sticking with it. I created BookOfCinz in 2018 and I did not have a clue what I was doing, (in some ways I still don’t know) but I am here to learn and to keep trying. Here are some top moments from my year as a Caribbean Bookstagrammer:

 

1. I read 140 books

At the start of the year I told myself I would only read 120 books, which amounts to 10 books per month. I knew 2019 would be a year filled with travel, social engagements, and a heavy workload (and being a book blogger is a full-time job in itself), so I wanted to be realistic.  In October, I made my goal and I decided to up it to a very ambitious 140 books. I am not lying, I struggled to reach 140; the ending of the year proved busier than I imagined but I made it in the nick of time.

I did a post on my top reads for 2019 but if you are interested in the entire list, check Goodreads.  With that said, I know a lot of people may feel discouraged seeing 140, do not! Comparison is the thief of joy; if you read 12 books, that is amazing! Read at your own pace, just read!

 

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2. I started (and maintained) the BookOfCinz Book Club

I am still in awe that I have a book club that meets online and in person on a monthly basis. One of the Book Clubbers from Trinidad told me she is grateful for the club because she reads more, and she has a space she can come to and talk freely about books and other issues. I was so moved by this, because I started the club to meet and talk to readers who share my love for reading and books; I never dreamed it would be a place for women to come and be a support system for each other.

The book club focused mainly on Women from the Caribbean or Caribbean Heritage, but it changed a bit in the end. Moving forward, while we will be reading Caribbean authors, we will also be reading from women of color and minorities.

I think this might have been one of my biggest accomplishments as it concerns BookOfCinz: the launching and maintenance of a monthly book club with returning members.

 

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3. I became a kinda-sorta- Writer

One of the questions I get asked a lot is “when are you going to write a book?” I am always confused as to why I need to write a book when there are so many, I have never read. I do not hold any aspirations of becoming a writer, but over the last 365 days I found myself writing a lot:

  • 140 book reviews
  • 200 Instagram captions + Tweets
  • 50 Blog Post
  • 20 Articles

Yes, I found myself writing a lot this year; in some ways, it is very intimidating, but I consider it an opportunity to expose myself to audiences I generally do not have access to. One of my favorite pieces was the one I did for Maco Magazine. I had the opportunity to meet and interview Claire Adam, the author of Golden Child. This was my first time writing for a magazine publication, interviewing a writer and coming up with a magazine-worthy piece. It was HARD, but the finished piece was even better. I also have a monthly article in the Trinidad Guardian’s WE Magazine, where I talk books to read, advice and tips on how to read more.

Yes, I still feel like an impostor when I see those articles, but it’s great to know I am spreading my love for reading.

 

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4. ARCs + Book Mail from Publishers

I had to put this on this list because having publishing houses take the time to contact me and send ARCs (advanced reader copies) all the way to the Caribbean is an amazing feeling. When I started out, I would often hear, “we only ship within the US; it is too expensive to ship outside of the US”. I admire the publishers who are ensuring that books are read and reviewed by own voices.

A major thank you to Harper Books, Penguin Random House, Ian Randle Publishers, Knopf and Anansi Press. I appreciate all the love and books you’ve sent over the year!

 

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5. I became a Book “Influencer”

Yes, I am rolling my eyes at myself as I type this last point – I mean, really Cinz? Influencer? Hear me out. I am not one to go around saying “I am an influencer”, I actually cringe when my friends hype me up and I feel weird when someone sees me out and asks, “are you BookOfCinz? Can I have a photo with you?” (this happened twice 😊 ).

However, aside from all those cringing moments for me, I will own that I have some amount of influence in the bookish space and this is not me tooting my own horn. I have done informal surveys and received feedback from a lot of people who say they bought a book because I recommend it – isn’t that influence?  Either way, my goal is to be an actual Book Influencer and I am kinda/sorta seeing that happen.

 

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These are just some of my bookish year. I have been blessed with great reads. I have made some amazing bookish friends and I have a community of readers who are just the best. I am so excited for what 2020 brings for BookOfCinz.

 

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