It’s been four years since I’ve sent my very first blog post out into the world wide web; it feels like that was just yesterday and, simultaneously, like I’ve been blogging since forever. This is probably due to the many things that happened in those four years! Several exciting book fairs have passed, a good amount of review copies found their way to my shelves, my blog moved to its own domain, expanded to Instagram – and, most important of all, I found ‘my people’.

You Matter the Most

Maybe it’s a cliché thing to say, but I can honestly confirm that the people I’ve met through blogging are also its best part. It showed me the wondrous bonds we can have with others from the any place in the world, strangers connected through their love for stories, and the amazing moment when those strangers become our friends. Being able to talk about the books I’ve read, and bookish experiences in general, and having a safe place full of positivity and encouragement to go to, helped me through the difficult times. Through blogging, I was blessed with many new, strong and lasting friendships, I even had the privilege of meeting several of you in real life, and knowing there’s a community of people out there who just get me and always have my back is an indescribable, wonderful feeling. So thank you for all the meetings and conversations, to anyone who left me comments, messages, emails, tags or simply a like. Your kindness and support, no matter in which way, really, genuinely, matters.

My Bookish World Flipped Upside-down

Even though I’ve been reading since I was four years old, I never grew so much as a bibliophile as after joining the bookish community – and I don’t mean the additional shelves needed for all the new books I bought, though that is certainly the most visible change! No, back then, reading was quite an isolating hobby for me. Yes, I did talk to friends and family about certain books, but never on the scale that an entire community of book lovers can offer. I experimented with genres that otherwise never would’ve hit my tbr, I grew out of genres that no longer met my literary needs, and even found enough encouragement to (slowly) pick up my long buried dream of writing myself. Other readers have become a real source of inspiration to me, and helped me grow more confident in all my bookish and even non-bookish choices. You showed me that being introverted does not have to equal being isolated, or timid, or someone who can’t have big dreams; and that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Adventure Awaits, Even in Real Life

Not only did I try reading different genres, I also found another passion through blogging: photography. I always liked to take snapshots, but joining the bookstagram community as an addition to my blog offered me an entirely new world of natural lighting, props and arrangements, aesthetics and years of learning by doing, until I somehow ended up with nearly ten thousand followers. It still feels unreal, but in those few moments when it does get through to me, I am simply, utterly grateful.

(Just a cheeky little hint, keep your eyes open for a really great giveaway that’s starting once we’ve hit that ominous, special number!)

Through photography, I also began to see my environment differently, to look out for beauty in the most unlikely places, and even took up the courage to be in front of the camera myself. The fact that you can change up your photography at any time is both exciting and fun, and I try to apply what I’ve learned to any aspect of my life.

The Road Goes Ever On

Of course, as in any community, things are not always peaceful and calm – but that’s a good thing, in my opinion. We are having relevant, valuable discussions like no other group of people, we have our preferences and dislikes, but we also go through a lot of emotions together (be that as a cause of fictional events or real issues). I can’t say that I haven’t thought of quitting my blog a few times in those four years, I even neglected it some time or another, but in the end, I’ve always come back. And even if I throw the virtual towel some day, I will always be part of the literary community in one way or the other. Y’all are simply too cool. So, here’s to my favourite group of weirdos who have pictures in their minds while staring at inked symbols on paper, to our first four years – and many more!

Sandy x

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