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Meet Shelby Levine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelby Levine.

Hi Shelby, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have been a reader ever since I could remember. I grew up reading as a form of escapism, Counting on a faraway fantasy world to take me away from the anxieties I felt in the real world. I have social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder, all of which caused me stress as a kid; reading was my coping method. I grew up watching the Bookish side of YouTube, seeing creator share reviews of their favorite books and thought I could do that as well. I started with a blog, posting reviews about every and all books I was reading; it was something that allowed me to channel my love for reading into something productive! I chose the name Grace with Books, Grace being my middle name, and my little blog began! I started getting emails from authors and publishers wanting to send me advanced copies of books to review and put on my blog, and it was then I realized I could create a little business out of this. As I moved into high school and college, I found my time for physically writing reviews on a blog was less and less, so I moved to the more social media aspect of the book influencing. I started an Instagram (bookstagram) and a YouTube (booktube) to share my love of books with the world and made some amazing friends along the way. There’s this whole wonderful community of people who just love to talk about books, and I have formed the most unexpected friendships with people who share my interests and love of reading.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
This entire experience has been a learning process for me, with struggles and with rewards. Everything I learned about content creation, graphic design, SEO, and marketing, I had to teach myself. I think people are often really pressured to read books that are mainstream and popular, but I found I was really unhappy when I was conforming to others’ reading tastes and not my own. Something I try to stress on my channels is that there is a book out there for everyone.

I also often find myself doubting my abilities as a content creator. It’s not something I majored in or studied in an academic setting, so who am I to have the right to be creating content and requesting books from publishers? I often find myself comparing myself to other creators and thinking about how together they are when I often feel like a mess. Sometimes this is my anxiety talking, usually, it’s my anxiety talking, but it’s something I try to work through every time I hit “post”.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?Grace with Books is my platform where I recommend books and promote a “bookish lifestyle.“ The main part of my job is to read. I go to the bookstore almost every other week to find new titles that appeal to me, and I think will appeal to my followers. Generally, I read about 100 or so books yearly from various genres like historical fiction, fantasy, young adult, romance, or anything that looks remotely interesting to me.

Another part of my job is taking photos and filming videos I think will appeal to my audience. It has taken me a while to curate a feed that I feel reflects my own Bookish lifestyle, with cozy, warm hues! I had to teach myself the ends and outs of the YouTube/Instagram algorithm to best promote my Content, which was no easy task and required a lot of trial/error.

Finally, one of my favorite parts of my job is simply interacting with other bookish creators! I truly feel that this small, largely unknown corner of the Internet is one of the kindest. I have made many friends who live worldwide, and we have formed a deep bond through our love of stories.
I want my accounts and channels to feel like a space for anyone to join and be accepted. Growing up, I felt out of place in school and social settings, so I make it my mission to let everyone know they have a space with me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
For most of my life, I kept my “real” life and my “book” life separate. I was afraid people would think I was nerdy or weird if I told them I was a reader and had these accounts, so for the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone about them. I now realize that you shouldn’t hide what you are passionate about. Everyone is a little bit weird and a little bit nerdy, but that’s what makes us interesting. It’s OK to like reading, gaming, or quilting if that’s your thing. But if you’re passionate about something, you need to scream it from the rooftops, not lock it away as I did for a very long time.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Shelby Levine @gracedwithbooks

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