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The Men of Bookstagram: Up Close and Personal With Reggie Bailey (@ReggieReads)

Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers?  I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram.  This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS.  Today we’re getting up close and personal with: Reggie Bailey.

What is your name and Instagram handle?
My name is Reggie Bailey and my Instagram handle is @reggiereads.

When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
I started my Instagram account in 2011 when I was a big sneakerhead. One who was on top of all the Nike and Jordan Brand releases specifically. Originally my account was used for communicating with other sneakerheads, while showing off my latest and greatest in footwear.

Eventually I fell off of sneakers as a hobby and fell into book reading as a hobby. I didn’t officially join Bookstagram until 2017. Before 2017 I would show books on my page because they were making an impact on me, but 2017 is when I realized there was an entire “underworld” on Instagram, called Bookstagram, and my reading life hasn’t been the same since my encounter with said “underworld.”

Have you always enjoyed reading?
I’ve always enjoyed reading, although I haven’t always been a recreational reader. That’s largely because when I was younger I wasn’t reading enough books that interested me, especially in grade school. Whether it was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Beowulf, the Odyssey… I was just bored. I’d probably be able to get into those now, but it’d be dishonest of me to call books those books top priority as far as my reading list is concerned.

Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read?  Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community?
I’ll answer the latter question first. In the Black community reading is considered cool for sure. I’ve never had anyone Black criticize me for being an active reader, and I don’t foresee that happening. In fact, according to a 2014 study, which I found on the Atlantic, College educated Black women are the demographic that is most likely to read a book. Based off of that information I would estimate that not reading would be considered “uncool” in the Black community, although myself, nor anyone else, should pass any judgment on anyone who cannot, will not or does not read books.

I can’t think of any specific reason why we don’t see more Black men reading and/or sharing thoughts on the books they’ve read. I have seen more Black men reading and sharing thoughts on Goodreads than I have on Instagram, but I’m not sure why the numbers are so skewed in favor of women reading books, and sharing their thoughts on the web.

Maybe that’s the part that certain Black men think is uncool. Making a page on Instagram dedicated to the books they read, or maybe it’s something they aren’t confident in doing, don’t want to do or simply just don’t care to do. Who knows?

Hopefully we’ll get those numbers up over time though!

Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
I read The Bluest Eye for the first time and reread Sula and Song of Solomon earlier in the year. All of those spectacular novels were authored by the late and perpetually great Toni Morrison.

Song of Solomon and Sula were even better the second time around, which is expected when someone as magnificent as Toni Morrison authors a book, and Song of Solomon is the best novel I’ve ever read. A fact I don’t being altered anytime soon.

Are you currently in a relationship?  It’s okay to plead the 5thif you prefer not to answer!
If I pled the 5th, my girlfriend wouldn’t be happy. Lol.

Do you have children?  If so, do they love to read as well?
I do not have any children, but I would hope they would love to read if I had any.

What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
Although I am hesitant to propose any advice to a parent, considering I am a) Not a parent & b) Not even in a profession that deals with children, the best advice I would give, if I felt inclined, is to try and show children themselves through literature. Obviously this answer is geared more towards Black and Brown children, but it is important for these children to see themselves inside of books and on book covers, so they know that their stories are important and are worth being told.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Too many! But some current standouts on my nightstand are Survival Math by Mitchell Jackson, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, and Red Now and Laters by Marcus Guillory.

Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers?  If so, in what way(s)?
Yes and no. Yes because there aren’t as many of us so we are somewhat of a novelty (I suppose), but no because we’re readers just like all of the women of Bookstagram and we are all ultimately reading to enlighten and better ourselves while being entertained, amongst other motivations.

Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
Hardcover is my preference without question. I’ll do paperback as well, but I do not e-read.

Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
Toni Morrison is my absolute favorite. Long Live the Queen! I will not count her as my 1-2 though, because that is too easy.  1-2 of my favorite contemporary authors are Tayari Jones and Jamel Brinkley. Both authors made a lot of noise in 2018 with their classic works An American Marriage, and A Lucky Man, respectively.

How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?
I’d be lying to you if I said I had a method, especially when it comes to my stories. In my stories I will showcase any book that comes to my mind. Whether those are books that I bought, books that I am highly anticipating, or literally a book that ran across my mind for a few minutes.

For posts I choose books that motivate me to write reviews that I feel reach a substantial length. I wouldn’t want to post a review on a book I read where I only said “This book was great… 5 stars!” or something short like that. I always do my best to add a unique & informed, if not passionate, perspective to the conversation around a book I read.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for having me on your platform. I am humbled and privileged to have this opportunity.

Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this interview. I am grateful for your time, because we live in a world that has more information and content than we can imagine, and you could literally be consuming ANYTHING, but you are here, and I do not take that for granted.

Participate in #2BooksUnder50Reviews Challenge if you get the chance. This is a challenge I created in the beginning of 2019 to influence readers to search for, read and review more obscure works.  The rules are simple: Find a book published in 2017 or earlier that has less than 50 reviews (not ratings) on Goodreads, read it, and review it on Goodreads, but also on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #2BooksUnder50Reviews. We are going to build a library full of obscure works and finally give some authors some well-deserved roses!

Read books! Books are amazing; they are mind-altering, life-changing pieces of art that also entertain.  Read and think critically about the content in these books. Think critically about the plot, the structure, the wordplay, how the events in the book correlate to things happening in the world, etc.

Read with a buddy or a book club so you can discuss these books and learn from one another. During these discussions share popular opinions, unpopular opinions, and controversial opinions, but be genuine and respectful while doing such.

Last but not least, follow me on Instagram @reggiereads. Send me a friend request on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/reggieread), and let’s discuss books. Send me a message, comment on a post, or whatever you feel inclined to do. I’m always up for discussions centering books and literature, and it’s something I’m more passionate about than I’d ever thought I’d be.

Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read: 10 Male Bookstagrammers to Follow on Instagram If You Love Books.

Also, be sure to check out our first interview with Rod Kelly.

Find all of the men we feature in this series by searching the hashtag #themenofbookstagram on Instagram!

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3 Comments

  • Reply Anita

    I became aware of this post via Reggie’s Instagram account. I enjoyed reading the interview that prompted several thoughts; however, one thought is about your question of why black men on #bookstagram are so few.
    Maybe it’s just the stats that are relative to the overall black population in relative participation. In other words, the number of white and brown males appear to be low on #bookstagram, too; but granted, I see more white men than black. Could it be because black people are only 13% +/- of the population in the U.S. And if you half that figure, black men would be, at most, only 7% of U.S. citizens.
    I doubt that the #bookstagram composition is anywhere near 7% black men, but I’m not surprised that the number is low. I hope it will increase.
    Don’t know if I’m on the right track or not. Thoughts?
    Best wishes with your platform,
    Anita

    August 22, 2019 at 6:23 pm
    • Reply Mrs. G

      Thanks for your comment, Anita! It was just a question and I didn’t mean anything negative towards Black men about it. In my observation and experience on Instagram, I haven’t seen many Black men like Reggie who read and share the books they are reading. However, I do know that there are a countless number of Black men who do read. Does that help?

      August 22, 2019 at 6:31 pm
  • Reply Anita

    Sometimes it’s hard to express a tone when writing; for me at least! I apologize if I sounded negative. Reading it again, it does have a slight edge, but I don’t feel that way at all. I’m truly just as interested as many people are about the near absence of black men on the IG book forum and wondered if you think my equation (probably flawed) has anything to do with it.
    Thanks for responding! It’s a lesson for me to read things twice. 🙂

    August 22, 2019 at 10:16 pm
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