"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are" Sometimes, staying in isn't so bad when you've got a million places to escape to in books. This month, we interviewed Chelsea Hofmann, who has been a book lover ever since she was a little girl and recently found several outlets for her to express her love for books with those all over the world! Find out how she started her very own Little Free Library in her hometown and how she connects with other readers while practicing social distancing.
QPlease tell us a little bit about yourself and your Instagram page. What made you want to start creating content?
A Hi everyone! My name is Chelsea and I’ve had my Bookstagram for about 10 months. I originally started my account for two reasons- the first one was because I love reading! I have loved to read my whole life and never found many people who enjoyed it as much as I did. When I found out there were a whole community of readers, I couldn’t wait to be a part of it! I started small just posting a book or two, and discovered this whole new world.
The second reason was that I had one of my close friends pass away around that time. There was sort of an empty hole in my life where I was looking for connection, and I wanted to find a place where conversations would be easy when the rest of my life was hard. It was really a whole different world I could live in that wasn’t affected by tragedy. The Bookstagram community was so welcoming and supportive it helped me forget some of the things going on in my life.
QHow do you think your love for reading came about, we'd love to know YOUR story! Was there a single book that completely captivated you?
AProbably because my mom was an English teacher! She taught me to read my first book- Sun Up -when I was two years old! I was the kid that would go to the library every two weeks and check out the book limit, which was like 20 books. I would read them in those two weeks and be back wanting more!
I’m not sure that I had a favorite book, but I definitely loved the Nancy Drew mysteries! I loved that the stories were about a strong and curious woman doing things that men would traditionally do. I also loved the hunt of solving the mysteries and puzzles in the books. I remember one Christmas going to open presents and my parents had gifted me all 100 Nancy Drew books! That was the best Christmas ever! This has translated into my love of thrillers today, which is my favorite genre.
QTell us more about the Little Free Library that you run! How did that come about and how does it work?
AI am so excited to be able to run the first Little Free Library in Loma Linda California! I first heard about them a few years ago when I saw a few around neighboring towns. I went to the Little Free Library website and realized that there are hundreds of Little Free Library’s all over the world! I was disappointed that there wasn’t one in my town, so I decided to start one!
I had no idea how to do this, but when I mentioned it to my mom, who lives in Chicago, she got started on it right away. She is not a Carpenter, and really hasn’t made anything like this before, so it was quite a process. She worked with a friend she made from Home Depot to hand draw plans and then slowly build it over six months. It was a lot of trial and error, but the result was amazing. She even flew it out to California with her on the plane, and my whole family helped me install it!
Basically how it works is you take a book and you leave a book. People can bring books that they no longer want or need and switch them out for new ones. I think it’s a great way to encourage literacy, especially among children. I live near a children’s hospital so I thought it would be a great addition to the community.
QBesides your Little Free Library, are there any other book-related projects or events that you have been involved in or would like to do?
AYes! I started an online book club @thrillers.by.the.book.club to bring together readers from all over the country (and world). Since thrillers are such a popular genre, I wanted to connect with people who enjoy the same books as me. It has been so fun getting to know everyone and feeling connected even though we all live in different places. I also have connected with a group of local Southern California book lovers and met in person for a book swap! People usually think of reading as a solitary activity, but since I'm an extrovert I love making it a social activity too! I am hoping to host a picnic at my little free library soon so people can have an excuse to get together, and hopefully I'll get some donations as well!
QWhat are your thoughts on audiobooks since they have become so big these past couple of years?
AI want to love audiobooks, but nothing really feels as good as having a physical book in your hand. I especially love the way books smell! That being said, I do think audiobooks are great for when you can't read a physical book, like in the car! I am a fast reader, so I like the audiobooks give you the option of speeding up the reading speed to finish sooner. When I do get audiobooks, I get them from libro.fm which is a website that allows you to purchase audiobooks while supporting your local bookstores! You can choose which store you want to support and some of the proceeds from the audiobook actually go to your local bookstore. I love being able to shop local and put money back into the community and using audiobooks helps the environment as well, which is always a plus!Rapid fires:
QLastly, we love that you were able to relate your story with our designs. If you were to give a title to your life story, what would it be and why?
A Oh my gosh, talk about a hard question! Probably something like "Will Travel For Food" or something like that! Besides books which I'm obviously obsessed with, I also love to travel. So far I've been to 44 countries and love adventure! I even lived in Micronesia for a year. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is explore the country and try the food! I am pretty daring, so it's been fun to try all the crazy things out there. Some of my craziest memories include swimming with Whale Sharks, hiking the Great Wall of China, and licking a jellyfish!
Follow Chelsea on her Instagram page @bookarethemagic