Many readers still haven’t discovered #bookstagram, a segment of Instagram where book lovers hangout to showcase and discuss books. It’s where I met Amy, whose account is titled, Amy’s Reading Groupies. It’s also where I learned of her book club, and of course, I asked her, Carrie, and their group to be a postcard/Q&A feature on Postcards & Authors! You can find The Chicklits here.
You’ll enjoy this Q&A that tells the story of how The Perks of Being a Booklover was created and read about Amy and Carrie’s homegrown spin on its content.
Bookish podcasts are springing up everywhere and markedly intertwined with Instagram and other social media. This is a good one!
Thank you, Amy and Carrie, for this postcard image of White Horses by Erich Heckel. I love having the artwork of famous artists – even if it’s a miniature likeness on a postcard. 🙂 I hope you were able to see the Picasso to Pollock Exhibition when it was in Louisville.
Who are the founders of The Perks of Being a Booklover?
Amy Smalley and Carrie Vittitoe
What were your thoughts that led to beginning the podcast and what was your process?
Amy – I am a huge podcast listener. About two years ago, I approached Carrie about starting a bookish podcast. I just felt like I had something to say and to offer that wasn’t being done yet. Carrie was interested but too busy. I didn’t want to do it without her, so I patiently waited. For some reason I just couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone other than her. Finally in January of this year (2019), Carrie casually asked me if I still wanted to do that podcast thing. 🙂 We began to practice recording in my closet; how to not be nervous talking into a microphone and how to interview guests. After getting a little technical direction from a high school student (apparently we are too old to figure out the technical part all by ourselves), we were ready to roll. Initially, the whole podcast was going to be about different book clubs, but somehow it didn’t seem exactly like what we wanted. We did a little course correction and realized what we were really interested in, was the social aspect of reading and books, and the different ways people share that passion. Book clubs meet that criteria, but so do a lot of other things.
How’d you come up with The Perks of Being a Booklover as your podcast name?
We agonized for weeks. We wanted the name to be something book-related, but when we got to the point where we were thinking of names like “Literarians,” “Bibliobibuli,” and “20,000 Words Under the Cover,” we were pretty desperate. At some point, we thought of “The Perks of Being a Book Lover,” and felt that it covered who we are and what we want to talk about.
Date of first episode:
May 31, 2019
Schedule of episodes:
New episodes come out on Wednesdays.
Have all of your guests been book clubs?
No. We try to invite a range of people. Some are professionals in book-related fields (teachers, bookbinders, librarians, theater artistic directors). Others are just people who like to read. Our podcast is about sharing book culture, so anyone who shares reading in some way would be a good fit.
How do you choose your guests?
We meet and/or text often to brainstorm possible guests. Amy is a champ at finding unique public bookish events. At this point, we are still asking anyone and everyone to join us. We hope as word spreads about our show, that people will bring ideas to us. We give a lot of thought to being inclusive (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.).
Is there a format for interviewing your guests?
The show is in three sections. The first focuses on how our guest shares books and words. The second section of the show is where we all talk about what we’re currently reading or a book that has meant a lot to us. The last part of the show is the Top 5, where we ask our guest questions that may or may not be related to their professional/reading interests. These are about their favorite things; basically, fun human interest questions.
Book selection process:
If our guest is an author, then we will obviously discuss their book. However, most of the time, we don’t just talk about one particular text. Carrie and I both use Goodreads and other book podcasts to find books to add to our TBR lists. If we’re reading, or have read any of the books during our podcast time, we’ll talk about it in section two of our show.
We will talk about anything book-related, no matter the genre.
Favorite type of interview with your guests:
Amy – When I have a guest who teaches me something completely new, I find that really inspiring. Our interview with Brandon Vigliarolo (Episode 10), the bookbinder, was really cool. It was fascinating because I didn’t know anything about how books were made during the 17th and 18th century. Our interview with Rheonna Nicole (Ep. 11), the slam poet, was amazing because I had no idea what slam poetry was. When I listened to her slam, I was blown away.
Carrie – I love learning what our guests are reading. I have added so many titles to my TBR list because of their enthusiastic explanations of the books and what they like about them.
A good interview is when:
We laugh. And we find that we often laugh in the studio when recording.
Recording location, and typically, where is your guest?
We started in Amy’s closet, but now we have two locations we use. One is a studio of a community-based radio station. The other is Amy’s guest bedroom, which is A LOT roomier than her closet and is very audio-friendly. We let the guest pick the location depending on which studio is most convenient. We record together, and the guest is always in the studio with us. We haven’t ventured into taping with a long distance guest yet, but we haven’t needed to thus far.
What equipment do you use and does your guest have to have special equipment?
We use GarageBand on Apple desktop and laptop. We use Blue Yeti microphones with pop screens. The room is carpeted and we have curtains behind the microphones that help absorb noise. Our guests are in the studio with us so they don’t need any special equipment.
What generation are you in?
We’re kids of the 80s, baby! Generation X. Talk to us about Duran Duran and The Police.
What’s your “day job?”
Amy – I’m a recovering stay at home mom who is ready to throw myself into interests I am passionate about. I have an Etsy shop, Bourbon Ball Vintage, where I sell vintage books. I do a lot of volunteer work with pet rescue and pet-health organizations. I also do all the editing of our show.
Carrie – I’m a freelance writer, cottage school English teacher, and substitute for the local public school district. Even though I’m a Generation Xer, I’m very millennial about my “gigs.”
Do either of you write, do public speaking, or have other bookish jobs/hobbies online?
Amy – I’ve been a member of and directed multiple bookclubs. I’ve run children’s story times at libraries, been a reading tutor, a writing tutor, and started a Friends of the Library organization to raise money for a library in need. I search for and sell books that people are nostalgic about (I specialize in children’s books, old cookbooks, and classics).
Carrie – I’ve kept a blog since 2006 about being a mom and having anxiety. It’s titled Mood-Disorder Mama.
Does The Perks of Being a Booklover have a product line or future plans for one?
That sounds like fun but a lot of work. No. We are still focused on growing the podcast. Maybe someday!
Is there a specific long-term vision for the podcast, or do you prefer to plan as you go along?
We hope to not kill each other at any point during this adventure. 🙂 We’re just working on building our listenership and to keep improving the quality of our podcast. Our hope is that if we put out a fun, quality show, people will listen. We began this journey calling it “Half-Assed Ideas.” We’re hoping to get to “Mostly Good Ideas with a Few Stinkers.”
We are currently programmers at Forward Radio, 106.5 FM in Louisville, KY, which airs our show. They don’t sponsor us financially but we do gain access to their listeners and equipment.
Where can listeners find and subscribe to your podcast?