An Ordinary Girl with More Books Than Sense: Jen from Pop! Goes the Reader

Nearly two years ago, I discovered the wonderful world of book blogging. While I never quite managed to "make it big" and have put my personal bookish blog on hiatus (so I could focus on Mind the Gap), I still keep tabs on a handful of bloggers. One of my absolute favourite bloggers is the lovely Jen at Pop! Goes the Reader - not only is her website one of the prettiest I've ever seen, but her reviews are always so thoughtful and detailed. Jen was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, so please enjoy!

Illustration by Vicki Sigh

Illustration by Vicki Sigh

Welcome to Mind the Gap, Jen! Thanks so much for doing this interview!

Let's start off with a mini introduction: If you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?

An ordinary girl with more books than sense, trying to find her way and become the heroine of her own story. 

When/Why did you decide to start blogging?

I was a blog reader long before I was a blog writer. While I don’t remember how I was first introduced to the world of book blogging, I do know that for about a year prior to Pop! Goes The Reader’s creation I was a regular reader of The Perpetual Page-Turner, Anna Reads, GReads!, and Rather Be Reading. I admired these beautiful spaces that Jamie, Anna, Ginger, Estelle and Magan were able to create, and longed for a place where I could talk about what I loved most - reading - explore other passions and express my creativity, all of which I had felt unable to do in my life up until that moment. Pop! Goes The Reader has allowed me to do that and so much more. None of that would have been possible without the bloggers who came before me and inspired me to take a chance.

What is the best part of blogging? The worst? Do you have any advice for aspiring book bloggers?

The best part of blogging is undoubtedly the community. I have made friends over the past three years that I now can’t imagine my life without, people who I text at all hours of the day and night and have turned to in my best (and worst) moments. I have never felt as understood, as heard, or as warmly embraced as I have since entering the world of book blogging and I’m so very grateful.

The most difficult part of blogging is realizing that, as in life, you can’t do it all. Over the course of Pop! Goes The Reader’s history, I’ve been offered so many wonderful opportunities by authors and publishers, and as much as I would like to help everyone who approaches me, sometimes that simply isn’t possible. Learning that it’s okay to say ‘no’, that I can’t do it all, and that I have to take my own needs into account as well has been one of the hardest - and most valuable - lessons I've ever had to learn.

As for advice to aspiring book bloggers, I would simply say: Go for it! If you’ve always wanted to blog but could never work up the courage, I would urge you to do so. While it can initially feel a little intimidating and it’s all too easy to worry that the community is already oversaturated with blogs and bloggers, there is ALWAYS room for more. After all, there’s one thing those other blogs don’t have that you do - YOU. Your voice is special, unique, and entirely your own and I promise that there is something you can bring to the community that no-one else can, if only you have the courage to explore and discover what that is.

How do you balance “real life” work with reading/writing blog entries?

In addition to running Pop! Goes The Reader I also work a full-time, 40+ hour a week day job (and nurse a debilitating TV addiction) so organization is key! I work 9-5, Monday-Friday, so any work I do on Pop! Goes The Reader is done in the hours stolen before or after this. That said, learning how to manage and make the most of your time and strike that tenuous balance between personal and professional obligations is often easier said than done. One thing that has proved invaluable? Scheduling. Whether you use a print or digital version, a calendar can be a girl’s best friend. I rely on my BusyCal for EVERYTHING and write all commitments I’ve made - whether they be blog-related or otherwise - on my calendar as soon as I’ve made them. This is the best way I’ve found to avoid double-booking a date and to make sure deadlines don’t sneak up on me.

Your voice is special, unique, and entirely your own and I promise that there is something you can bring to the community that no-one else can, if only you have the courage to explore and discover what that is.

Who are some of your favourite authors? What books are you currently obsessed with?

How long do you have? Ha! Whether aimed at a middle grade, young adult or adult audience, regular readers of Pop! Goes The Reader will know that I’m an avid contemporary reader and most of my favourite authors write for this genre. I don’t know what I would do without the work of Becky Albertalli, Morgan Matson, Amy Spalding, David Arnold, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ashley Herring Blake, Anna-Marie McLemore, Jessi Kirby, and Rainbow Rowell. Their work makes the world a better and more beautiful place and their stories have inspired, changed, and saved my life more times than I can possibly count. In terms of what books are currently on my bedside table, right now I’m reading Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee, The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close and Howard Wallace P.I. by Casey Lyall, all of which I’m really enjoying! 

One of your regular features is The Writing’s On The Wall, which are always gorgeous. How do you decide which quotations to use? Where do you get the artwork? Is design something you’re interested in?

Thank you so much! Graphic design is something I’ve always been interested in, and The Writing’s On The Wall gives me a really wonderful opportunity to express my creativity in a way other aspects of my blog (and life) don’t. The inspiration behind the wallpapers is very organic, and can arise from anywhere and/or anything. Sometimes I’ll read a particular quote in a book and know immediately I want to memorialize it. Other times I’ll be inspired by a particular graphic set and then find a book and/or quote that would best suit it. All of my graphics are purchased on Creative Market, Design Cuts, and The Hungry JPEG. The latter two are particularly excellent resources, as those graphic bundles normally include a commercial license, which means I can also use any designs I create with those resources to sell in my Society 6 store, Pop! Goes The Print Shop. I don’t know that I’m well-versed or talented enough to turn graphic design into a full-time career, but it’s something that certainly brings me joy and right now that’s enough for me.

One of my (Sam's) favourite wallpapers that Jen has made!

One of my (Sam's) favourite wallpapers that Jen has made!

If you could live in any fictional/fandom world, which would it be?

Hogwarts. Hufflepuff. Close to the kitchens. Need I say more?

Quick Takes: No need for long answers here. Just hit us with the first thing that pops into your head.

Current Non-Bookish Obsession?

Vicki Tsai’s artwork. Vicki is responsible for all of the beautiful illustrations on Pop! Goes The Reader, but that’s merely a small sampling of her talent. I support her on Patreon and regularly read her Tumblr because I think she’s one of the most talented young artists working today. Her choice and depth of colour, creativity of subject matter and strength of message (i.e. “Your body is a garden. Allow it to grow.”) are a constant inspiration to me and I feel so lucky I’m able to feature her stunning work on my blog. 

Thing That Makes You Rage?

The current state of American politics. I have rarely seen anyone who displayed as little empathy and compassion as Donald Trump. The fact that the political race is as close as it currently is and that Trump has been given ANY platform from which to express his hatred, bigotry and ignorance about politics and basic human decency is repugnant to me.

Pop Culture-y Item That’s Coming Out Soon That You’re Excited About?

Fox’s “Pitch”, which tells the story of the fictional Ginny Baker, the first woman to play Major League Baseball. 

Girl Crush Of The Moment?

Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters (2016). C’mon. Like I was going to choose anyone else.

What’s One Thing That You Love That You Wish Got More Attention? 

Middle grade fiction! There’s no age limit on a truly exceptional story, and I wish there were more blogs that reviewed and featured these stories regularly. 

Guilty Pleasure?

I don’t really believe in ‘guilty pleasures’ - If you enjoy something and you’re not hurting anyone, why feel guilty or embarrassed about it? Embrace it! 

One Recommendation That A Fangirl Just HAS To Read/Watch/Play/Ingest?

Read: Shrill by Lindy West

Watch: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Play: Until Dawn (Playstation 4) 

Ingest: Dolly Mixture, especially Waterbridge brand (Just in case you’re not sure what I’m talking about: click here)

Time for plugs! Where can people find/chat with you?

Website: popgoesthereader.com

Twitter: @Pop_Reader

Instagram: popgoesthereader 

Thanks so much for the interview, Jen!