In the summer of 2015, I came upon a wonderful revelation in the world of the Internet: BookTube. It started by me randomly coming upon a person that was presenting books in something called “Book Haul”.
Now, one note here is that I am not a native english speaker so new vocabulary always has a way of surprising me by appearing out of the blue in the most unusual or common places. I mean to say that I had no idea what “haul” meant; and I didn’t really care. I am not a person who would immediately go on a dictionary source to find out the meaning of a word, but rather I wait until the word reveals itself.
We all know how this goes, you discover something on YouTube that draws your attention and suddenly you find yourself lost in a world of similar videos, happy in your little cloud of nerdiness. It started with Ariel Bissett who then led me to jessethereader, Little Book Owl, padfootandprongs07 and PeruseProject. I had found random people on YouTube that talked about books only. They talked about specific books in book reviews but they also presented the newer books they had just bought in “Book Hauls” – which, I had come to the understanding, roughly translated into “stay tuned, many books presented in the following video“.
I cannot explain why I enjoyed watching some strangers holding up books and talking about them, then going to the next video where another stranger would hold up a book – many times people from different channels would show the same book – and talk about it some more. But, I know that my passion for books rekindled(!). I felt like reading again after years of not touching a book. I did not just feel like reading, I felt like reading everything! All the John Greens, all the Patrick Ness’s, all the Harry Potters (again!), everything.
When this feverish new urge to read hit me I was in Greece. So, I took my dad and we went to a bookstore to buy books. And for some strange reason, after so much discussion about the most hip YA novels, I went ahead and bought…The Riftwar Sage by Raymond E. Feist. If you cannot tell already what a random pick these novels were allow me to explain. Raymond E. Feist is a fantasy author who wrote an epic series of more than 10 or 20 books set in his universe back in the 80’s.
Anyway, the series was very mediocre, to say the least, and the whole summer I binged on Booktube videos, watching their earliest videos all the way back from the beginning of each BookTubers career on YouTube, until I decided to make my own blog and here we are today.
But, I’m not writing this post to talk about BookTubers that everyone knows about and every reader has heard of. As time passed and as the BookTubers grew older – they were all younger than me, mind you – and as I started reading more and more of the books everyone kept talking about, I felt that these people didn’t represent my reading tastes anymore. And, although I will be forever thankful to these young people who, unbeknownst to them, I became inspired to not only read more, read diverse and explore new genres but also to start my own blog, I unsubscribed from most of their channels and went out on my own to find BookTubers closer to my reading preferences.
Without further ado, I’d like to recommend four BookTube channels on which I am currently subscribed and enthusiastically follow on YouTube.
Thomas M. Wagner is the host of SFF180, my favourite BookTube channel. When I first discovered SFF180 I immediately subscribed for the weekly videos called “Mailbag Monday” in which Thomas showcases all the books he receives from publishers in the world of science fiction and fantasy. Not only does he show new and upcoming releases of SFF titles, but he also comments on the books he receives, providing additional interesting information about the author or the story or a series. The fact that Thomas has read numerous novels and authors and has a long-lasting relationship with the publishing world is evident to his viewers who get to enjoy interesting facts and information that not many people are in a position to share about novels. Apart from the informative Mailbag Mondays that always offer an early look at new releases SFF readers are interested in, Thomas is the reviewer I am one day aspiring to become. His book reviews are a delight to watch. His wit and authenticity produce review videos that are fun to watch but, also, are always honest. One note that I feel I ought to mention here is that Thomas’ reviews sometimes can cross the line to spoilery areas so I always watch his reviews when I have read the book already or am not planning on doing so ever. But that’s not a problem for me because I always avoid reviews of books I am planning on reading soon because I like to go into stories completely blind. I also blame Thomas for most of my fantasy and science fiction titles that have piled up on my TBR list since I discovered his channel on YouTube. And this TBR pile continues to grow with every Mailbag Monday video he uploads. If you are an SFF reader you have to check out SFF180, it is just a wonderful channel with awesome content, informative, fun and all around worth your subscription. Here is a video of Thomas talking about the most anticipated releases of 2017!
Steve Donoghue has been named “The King of BookTube” and who can deny him the title when his reading total numbers thousands of books per year! On his YouTube channel you are not going to see book reviews, he has his website for that. But if you are like me, and you love watching people hold up books on a camera and giving you a synopsis so you can go on the next tab of your browser on Goodreads and keep adding to that damned TBR list, Steve is your guy. Steve Donoghue does at least one book haul a day! Sometimes two or even three book hauls will make an appearance and the BookTube world sings with joy. Steve is bombarded by daily book mail! He is living the dream of having 10 free books per day delivered to his home in addition to being able to read these books. So if you want to find out what books are coming out in the world of fiction and non-fiction, he is your guy. But Steve does not only generously share every mail haul he receives on YouTube and the occasional illuminating review of what’s new in the world of literary prizes; he also accompanies each video with witty comments, becoming a teacher to his viewers on history, biology and politics. Steve is the proof – if one needs any – that videos don’t need to have great quality of sound or image to be entertaining, informative and educational! This is a favourite video of mine where Steve discusses the 2016 Man Booker prize longlist:
Chris Rhodes is another SFF comrade with a huge love for Stephen King. And while I really do not understand his fascination with the author, I am always very excited to see a book review from him popping up on my subscriptions page. Chris has an obvious talent in communicating his thoughts and capturing his audience with his calm and peaceful demeanor. His reviews are always on point, but the videos I’m most looking forward to are his ARC and book hauls. Chris loves reading fantasy and science fiction, especially huge books and large series, just like me. He always makes long hauls during which I sit comfortably to watch, with my Goodreads open, and my TBR steadily ascending the stairs to impossibility.
My final BookTuber recommendation is for Cece, the youngest of the four and probably the one with whom I have the least similar taste in books. While a portion of Cece’s videos do not appeal to me – as I am not a big fan of YA fiction and do not really follow the unboxings of YA subscription boxes or reviews of that genre – what I really appreciate is the diversity Cece strives for in her reading repertoire. As an openly lesbian lady, Cece loves LGBTQ+ reads, especially lesbian stories, and as a member of the community can offer wonderful but also accurate recommendations for queer books. By accurate I mean books that feature queer main characters and stories centering around queer themes as opposed to books including queer characters in minor roles. So, if you are looking for someone who offers recommendations on LGBTQ+ books, but also movies, series and even music videos, Cece is your girl. In addition to her YA and LGBTQ+ content, Cece uploads well constructed discussion or tag videos on multiple bookish topics from Harry Potter related content to Top 5 lists and other non-LGBTQ+ recommendations. She even talks about graphic novels and books turned into TV series or movies. She is the Booknerd friend I wish I had to exhaust all things book-related!
So these are the four BookTubers I would like to recommend for now, although the list is likely to change or advance as time goes by.
Of course, if you have any BookTubers you enjoy watching please let me know. I’m especially looking for a BookTube channel that critically discusses literary fiction but I would appreciate recommendations from any other genre as well.