What are we, but remnants of our old digital identities?

Hello. Today’s post is a bit different, just a quick break from book reviews to share some thoughts that have been on my mind lately.

I don’t know if anyone was a tidy teenager who kept track of all digital accounts and e-mails they owned alongside the corresponding passwords. I certainly wasn’t, and I deeply regret it.

As a millennial, my digital life began with my first Hotmail account in 2004 when I was eleven years old. To be honest, I can’t even remember the e-mail itself, though I’m pretty sure it contained the word “princess” somewhere in it. What I do remember is that I created my first blog shortly afterward using Windows Live Spaces, where I’d write entries as if they were my diary, only that they were public and everyone could read them. Yes, very cringy. In parallel, I came across Matmice and created my website. I remember the platform was targeted at kids and teens and allowed the users to connect with other kids around the world. My page used to have a pastel pink background and a ton of glitter gifs and images from DollzMania.

My curiosity for creating and customizing websites led me to set up another site using FreeWebs (now called Webs). It consisted of tons of dolphin pictures since this happened during my short era of sea obsession, where I even asked my parents to paint my room aquamarine. Having a dolphin website was not enough, and around 2006 I created a Xanga account. I’d dare say it was my first “real” blog, where I began writing book and film reviews and mixed them with ramblings of my personal life. I named the blog “Decoding Scribbles” and that name stuck with me when I later used it for my first Blogger site in 2009. By then, Xanga was long outdated, and Google’s Blogger became the home for my ramblings during the remainder of my teen years until 2011.

Continue reading “What are we, but remnants of our old digital identities?”

Life as of late

olivine books photography

Hi readers!

I know the focus of this blog lately has been to solely share lengthier book reviews than the ones found in my instagram account (@olivinebooks), given that here I have zero restrictions when it comes to character limit.

However, I’ve been meaning to share a life update for a while now, I just wasn’t sure when the right time would be. But then again, there’s that saying that goes: “If not now, then when?”. So here I am.

I moved to Spain four months ago. I was previously living in Peru, where I’m from. This isn’t my first time moving countries. It’s actually my third. Having moved countries before, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. But the truth is, absolutely not. I’m not the adventurous type (I’m an INFJ & Type 5, if you know, you know — otherwise you might want to look it up).

I’m a dual citizen and the idea of moving had been roaming my mind ever since I came for a visit 7 years ago. However, something always stopped me: fear of change. It’s funny (in the ironic sense, not humorous) how limiting fear can be. But circumstances changed between the end of 2020 and the start of 2021. I’ve changed too, I’m no longer that insecure girl in her early twenties who was too scared to take any risks. So now that the opportunity arose, I knew it was time to take a leap.

It took me some time to process everything. Not to mention the jet lag, my sleeping schedule was severely affected that first week lol. But looking in retrospective, while these past few months have felt like a total whirlwind, stepping out of your comfort zone provides so much space for learning and self-development. Even now, when I go for walks around the city, I still can’t believe that I’m here.

Anyway, here I share some snippets I’ve taken these past few months. Enjoy!

P.S. Do people still read blog entries? I feel so 2016 doing this.

olivine books photography

Between darkness and light

“We go through life walking in the immense darkness of unknown realities with a little flashlight in our hands, imagining that only what our little light makes visible is real. We generally see and experience only an infinitesimally small sliver of what actually exists and remain strictly within the confines of what our tiny light illumines. The true power of life does not lie within the confines of our tiny light, but in the immense darkness of unknown realities that are the greater story of our lives. 

Our lives are much more immense than we know, and connected to vast currents of hidden influences and possibilities. But we must stretch out into the darkness with the full measure of our longing, and surrender to the greater unknown context of our lives in order to begin to embrace and be embraced by a Love that is awaiting our invitation. And it is not only an invitation in word but also in deed—the act of offering our Being and the fullness of our lives to the darkness of the unknown currents—eternal possibilities that we cannot control but must instead invite with heartfelt surrender.” 

— Adyashanti

I read this quote a few days ago and I just felt the message it conveys is too important not to share. Once we unveil our perspective on life and realize there are so many greater things beyond what we know — it helps us realize that our problems aren’t as devastating as we thought, while also providing a sense of hopefulness we all need during times like these ❤

Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails over the country club

Hi there! Today’s post is a bit different. I don’t talk much about music here, even though music plays an important part in my life. And one singer, in particular: Lana Del Rey.

I first heard of Lana Del Rey back in 2012, with her single Born To Die. Honestly, I didn’t really like her music back then. I found it utterly slow and dull. But something in me shifted a year later when I decided to listen to the entire Born To Die album. Only then did I took in the lyrics and found beauty in the slow rhythm that accompanied them. I became a fan ever since, eagerly waiting for the release of her following albums.

I was highly anticipating her latest album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, which was released last week. Lana is known for her melancholic lyrics. And while the tunes in this album remain slow, I feel like we’re actually listening to Elizabeth Grant, not just Lana Del Rey. There’s a tinge of hopefulness and optimism that wasn’t present in her previous work.

I loved the literary references Lana did for some of her songs. The track Not All Who Wander Are Lost is titled after a verse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem from The Lord of The Ring. The song Chemtrails Over The Country Club starts with “I’m on the run with you, my sweetheart”, alluding to Clarissa Pinkola’s book Women Who Run With The Wolves. It becomes even more obvious in the music video where Lana appears with a wolf by her side. Not to mention, she also connects some songs with her previous album, like in the track Yosemite when she sings “No more candle in the wind” referencing to the song Mariner’s Apartment Complex. It felt like a continuation.

Lana Del Rey is one of the most underrated artists of this past decade. I have yet to read her poetry book titled ‘Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass’. But her lyrics by themselves already feel like poetry. And her latest album was no exception — velvet melodies, a work of art.

Bookstagram 101: How to become a Bookstagrammer

Hi there! Today’s post is a little different. I’ve been on bookstagram for a while now — almost 3 years already! What I love most about this community is the general kindness and easy connection. What a better conversation starter than book you share in common with someone else! I’m pretty sure if you start your bookstagram account, you’ll soon start making new friends.

Today I wanted to share some tips about the things I’ve learned these past few years. I gotta admit, the first year and a half I wasn’t as active, weeks could pass without me even logging in to my account. That changed on January 2020, when I decided I’d been on bookstagram long enough to start taking it more seriously, while still having fun.

Here are 5 tips to get started:

  1. Choose your handle: It doesn’t necessarily have to be book-related, but it helps if it does. You could include your name to help others identify you (e.g. Amy’s Bookshelf). But if you want to stay anonymous that’s completely fine too. I’d suggest going for a name that’s easy to pronounce/remember. While coming up with a name, keep in mind that are opportunities for becoming a book influencer or building a personal brand later on. So how would you want to be remembered?
  2. Select a profile picture: I’ve personally struggled with this one. Deciding between a logo or a photograph can be tough. I’d recommend going for a logo if your vision is more on brand-building, perhaps opening up a book-related business or bookclub — it’s also useful if you want to remain anonymous. A photograph of yourself can generate more connection with potential followers, people are curious and always want to see the person behind the account. However, if you’re a bit shy or simply don’t want to go through the process of creating a logo, a picture of books will work just fine! Or in my case, I have a picture of myself holding a book, but my face isn’t entirely visible — many bookstagrammers do this too.
  3. Pick a theme (or not!): You might be thinking “we’re in 2021, themes are so 2016“. Yes, and no. Keep in mind that bookstagram is a visual place, the accounts with the nicest aesthetics are the ones who generally have more followers. You can play around with different editing apps and use a theme to communicate your reading preferences (e.g. dark academia lovers tend to share somber pictures). But if you rather not do this, that is okay! Not everything is about the aesthetics.
  4. Find your niche: Which leads me to this point, it’s useful to determine the type of content you’ll be sharing. Some accounts focus more on photography and briefly discuss books. Other accounts focus more on sharing reviews. You can also concentrate on sharing certain genres of books only — such as YA novels or classic literature. It’s up to you to decide how narrow or wide you keep your content.
  5. Experiment: Nothing is written in stone. Trends shift over time and so does Instagram’s algorithm. Don’t be afraid to start. Share pictures, connect with other fellow readers and along the way you can determine if you’ll be sticking to a theme or switching it up later. Just be you.

Last but not least, a bonus tip: share often. If you want your bookstagram platform to grow, it’s important to be posting often (2 – 3 times per week), sharing stories and engaging with other accounts. And if you’re curious about statistics, switch up to a professional account. You’ll have access to data that can help you see what’s working and what’s not.

So are you ready to start your bookstagram adventure?

For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via the Contact form or send me a DM on Instagram. ‘Til next time!

2020 Recap

Hi there readers! I wanted to do a quick recap of the books I read this year. It was a total of 15 books, and while the majority of bookstagrammers read way more, I felt it was a good reading year for me.

Here are the books I read:

  1. Emma by Jane Austen
  2. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. The House Of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  5. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (reread)
  7. One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  8. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)
  11. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  12. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
  13. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (reread)
  14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  15. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.

The book that took me by surprise was One Hundred Years Of Solitude. I’d read mixed reviews before and I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I’m so glad I decided to read it! Complicated yes, but the prose was remarkable. ⠀

The book that didn’t meet with my expectations was To The Lighthouse. I’m not denying that Virginia Woolf’s was an exceptional writer (I loved Mrs. Dalloway), but I felt it was too slow. The writing was captivating but I felt not much was happening.

And last but not least, the book that was a total page turner was Midnight Sun. Thanks to Stephenie Meyer I was able to relive my teenage years. I literally devoured that book.

As for this year, I do hope to read more in 2021. I’ve set myself the goal of reading 20 books. I’m pretty sure it’ll be possible. But once again, what matters is going at your own pace and most importantly, enjoy reading! Bookstagram shouldn’t be viewed as a competition.