We are unbelievably excited to launch Love Yo Shelf 2.0!! For a while, Love Yo Shelf manifested as an idea, where we really wanted to evoke specific feelings of welcome and warmth for anyone who visited our blog, but we lacked a cohesive image that truly represented both that feeling and what the blog meant to us. After a lot of chaotic back and forth through text, plus a bare bones “sketch” in Nana’s notes app that will never see the light of day, we landed on a concept that combined the best parts of the blog, and were extremely lucky to work with Vinny @ Film and Fiction for our redesign. Now, Love Yo Shelf looks how it’s always made us feel, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it!
This would not have been at all possible without the encouragement and feedback from our friends, including Fadwa, Kate, Shealea, Tiffany, CW, and Kal’s amazingly helpful guide to going self-hosted. The best things truly come out of random texts and DMs.
Our redesign also marks a new chapter in Love Yo Shelf’s journey. We now have a shop (how cool is that!!) where you can purchase one of Nana’s hand-drawn bullet journals, and equally exciting products she’s still working on! We’ve grown an unbelievable amount as creatives as well as people who graduated into a pandemic, and also as friends turned co-bloggers turned friends again. Love Yo Shelf has been a much needed anchor for us in a truly tumultuous time, and we hope that it makes the rest of you feel as at home as it does us.
With our re-launch, we wanted to give you all the chance to get to know us more personally as people and bloggers and asked for questions on Twitter, which we’ve broken up into 4 separate categories. Some of them were a lot easier to answer than others, but we loved all of the questions you had for us – read on for our answers! ♡
General Blog Questions
What/who do you get inspiration from (whether specifically for your blog or in general?) What inspires you? (-May @gay_onnaise and Lily @sprnklsofdreams)
Lauren: Before we launched Love Yo Shelf, I was looking for other bloggers to follow on twitter, and one of the major ones that stuck out to me and continues to inspire me is The Quiet Pond run by CW, Joce, and Skye! It’s such a welcoming and creative space, with equally welcoming and creative people behind the helm, and while our concept is different from the Pond’s, it was that feeling I got whenever I read their posts that I really wanted to try and replicate with Love Yo Shelf.
Nana: Generally, I try to find inspiration in everything: nature, the people in my life, and of course, the books I read. Specifically for the blog, I’m very much inspired by the fire and love and grace that so many of the bloggers in this community have. The way they write serves as inspiration not necessarily for my own writing style, but it inspires how I wanna approach life, which includes our loving corner of the world here at LYS.
What inspired you to start Love Yo Shelf? (-Diya @desigirlreads)
Lauren: Love Yo Shelf was created from a random text I sent to Nana right after we started our last year of undergrad. I’m pretty sure it was something as simple as “hey do u wanna start a blog with me,” and the rest is history! We’d both gone through a Lot in college because it was the first time either of us was surrounded by mostly white classmates, and we rediscovered our passion for reading at the same time, so combining those experiences in a blog just made sense.
Nana: I’m pretty sure Love Yo Shelf started because of the books Lauren had been recommending/lending to me to read, and a text. The name and concept for Love Yo Shelf itself came from wanting it to be a place that encourages others to (re)love their shelves the way we did when we started loving ours again.
How do you juggle blogging and real life? (-Lily @sprnklsofdreams)
Lauren: Back when I was still a student, finding balance between blogging and real life was a little more difficult because I basically had 4 jobs: school, the blog, and two paying gigs. But basically, while I was in school, whenever I felt myself getting burnt out academically, I would shift my focus to blogging. I’d usually bounce around between what I was working on just to get into productivity mode, and I’d continue to alternate projects until they were all complete – kind of similarly to how I read books, now that I think about it! Now that I’m out of school, it’s a lot easier to find time for blogging because I only work part-time, but now the balance comes from remembering to log off and do non-blog related things.
Nana: I think my approach to juggling blogging and real life is by trying to bring as much of my real life into blogging as I can. Similarly to where I find inspiration, I tend to wanna bring everything I have into something, so it’s actually kind of difficult to separate the different spheres of my life. In another completely opposite way, I have multiple “somethings” that I wanna put 100% into, and well…you see the problem with the math there. To answer the question, I’m still working on how to balance life and blogging in a less sporadic and draining, yet still fulfilling and complete way.
How would you compare the beginning of your blogging journey to where you are at now? (-Diya @desigirlreads)
Lauren: I think the biggest blog difference is in my reviews. They have way more structure now and hopefully they incorporate a decent mix of personal opinions and general observations of the books I’m reviewing. On a personal level, I’m happy with where I am when it comes to the blog! Of course I want it to grow and have goals that I want us to reach, but I no longer feel like I’m playing a game of catch-up because I started blogging when I was in my 20s. I have friends that I absolutely adore and have developed relationships with authors and publicists, and I know so much more about publishing and the book community than I did back in October 2019.
Nana: In the beginning of my blog journey, I definitely wanted to love every book I read, and as we all know, it’s just not possible. Now, I think the biggest difference is that I plan them out a lot more than I used to and I feel like I’ve gained the ability to highlight the things I’ve loved about a book and still touch on the things that I missed. On that note, I’ve also been working on how to achieve the things I wanna accomplish with the blog, so the journey is definitely an ongoing process that can feel really dragging at times, but I think in a way, it’s also become a small personal journey because I wanna bring more of myself into this.
What is your favorite thing about your blog? (-Jan @januisances)
Lauren: My favorite thing about the blog would have to be the people its brought me to! I feel like because Love Yo Shelf was founded on specific principles/ideals, like called to like and it really helped me find people who seek the same things in books and life.
Nana: One of my favorite things about our blog is that I feel like we always go into something with our concept behind it. There are so many different ways to love and I think so much of our content is based on how to bring that out of others and ourselves via books and the characters themselves.
How do you keep coming up with ideas for new content? (-Jan @januisances)
Lauren: Ha, well, for people who have read my discussion posts, a lot of the inspiration for those comes from discourse I see on Twitter and my ensuing frustration. It’s probably the lit. and political science major in me that jumps out the most when that happens, so naturally I have to write an essay in response. But aside from that, a lot of our content comes from Nana and I texting each other our random thoughts as they come to us, us enabling each other, and the chaos that comes after.
Nana: Honestly, there are so many texts about content ideas that have never made it to the blog, out of sheer ridiculousness (I must say a lot of it is from a dream I had or one of our fatigue-induced conspiracies). On the other hand, quarantine has left me a lot of room to think about new content that I wanna bring to the blog, and a lot of it has to do with the endless line of struggles and wanting to encourage a strengthening type of empathy to combat them. I tend to be a little too meta for my own good, and it gets the best of me because ranting about one thing leads to a who line of others, but that’s where sociology and philosophy got me.
Any new, different goals for 2021 that you want to try? (-Jan @januisances)
Lauren: I really want to try doing more collaborative and interactive stuff in 2021, like author interviews and participating in tags or memes!
Nana: One of the things I wanna start doing is monthly segments! I have a few different ideas mapped out in my head, so we’ll all see how it plays out.
What are your top 5 favorite and least favorite things about blogging? (-Lulu @thelululemons)
Lauren: Pros include meeting other bloggers, having an outlet for something I’m passionate about, and getting to hype up books and authors before and after publication. Cons include seeing the same discourse circulate with no added nuance whatsoever, and the fact that bloggers are treated like they have less value than more visible bookish platforms such as booktube or bookstagram by publishers and the community alike.
Nana: Faves: reading books and being able to talk about them in depth, meeting people who also like to do this, having an endless world of inspiration, and watching myself grow as a creative. Least faves: the amount of “western”-centrism there is (IN SO MANY DIFFERENT FORMS).
What’s the most difficult thing about co-blogging? (-Rain @bookdragonism)
Lauren: I would say the most difficult thing about co-blogging is the fact that I never thought it would be difficult at all, so when there were times when there was a lack of communication on either of our ends, I personally felt SUPER awkward about bringing it up because I didn’t think I’d ever need to. We also just know so much about each other and our individual lives that even necessary confrontation is very uncomfortable for the both of us, but we’ve been working on communicating on a co-bloggers meets friends level instead of just friends or just co-bloggers.
Nana: I think the most difficult thing is finding a way to consolidate our two different approaches to things, mainly because they’re not always different! So it’s an adjustment whenever we see things differently because we don’t know when that’ll happen. Of course, that makes communication important, but it also makes the ability to understand absolutely imperative for us because our relationship is more than being co-bloggers.
What are some complications you’ve both encountered with blogging and how did you work together to fix any of these problems? (-Ace @peachnace)
Lauren: I feel like there have definitely been times when we’ve both been super productive and motivated or just been in a complete slump regarding content production. Nana and I kind of have this thing where our moods sync up even if we’re unaware it’s happening, so if one of us is having a lull in inspiration, chances are so is the other. I tend to work in bursts, and Nana tends to pace herself more than I do, so having a blog content calendar is vital for us.
Nana: One of the reasons we work so well together is that we can be equal and opposites at the same time. I think most times our complications are different (but they often happen around the same time), but we work together to sort of fill in the spaces needed for the other. I think we both deal with being our own worst enemy sometimes, but we know each other so well that filling in works if we plan it right.
What’s the best thing about co-blogging? (-May @gay_onnaise)
Lauren: I have a tendency to go really hard and throw myself into projects and burn out really fast, so having a co-blogger who understands that and supports me while I take a break (or even convinces me I need to take one) is something I don’t take for granted. It’s also just nice to have someone who gets just as excited as I do about a new idea and will talk it through with me until it actually becomes something tangible, and can help remind me that I should be excited about the things I’m working on if I get too caught up in my own head.
Nana: It sounds cheesy, but really one of my favorite things is just being able to do all of this with someone I love. Us being co-bloggers allows me to do this thing I’m passionate about while also sharing the load of pressure and not having to do and talk about these things alone. I think blogging has unlocked a new level of friendship for us and the blog itself has become something that’s bigger than just the two of us.
Personal Bookish Questions
What’s your reader origin story? (-Rain @bookdragonism)
Lauren: Oh god okay…before I even got into YA, the first series I collected was probably Warrior Cats by Erin Hunter. Then when I was in middle school, dystopian YA was huge, so it was The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, The Infernal Devices, and too much John Green for me. I kind of fell out of reading in high school because classes were so stressful, but I also just had less of an interest in picking up the books that were popular back then because it was all so familiar. My mom tried her best to find me books by Asian authors and always fostered my love of reading, but it wasn’t until i was 19 and reading authors of color for class that I started finding my way to diverse YA, and I haven’t looked back since.
Nana: When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my teachers because my mom had to drop me off super early and couldn’t get me until later, so they were always giving me things to read while I waited, and I think the one that really sparked my passion for stories was Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I think I was a little young for it at the time, but to this day it’s on my yearly reread list, and that list is what’s kept me passionate about books. As I got older, I realized that reading for me always had a goal of learning something, no matter the genre. Something I like to say about my favorite books is that they’ve taught me how to be more human, and I can’t fully explain it but it’s one of my favorite philosophies about reading.
Favorite book that you/others don’t talk about enough? (-May @gay_onnaise)
Lauren: I LOVE Crier’s War by Nina Varela but I feel like it doesn’t get talked about much outside of my own circle of friends in the book community, which is a shame because it’s full of yearning and enemies to lovers and is absolutely chef’s kiss.
Nana: Oh there are so many! In the past few months, I have to count Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa and We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. Per my previous point, these two books are some that I’ll never forget.
What’s one book you both absolutely adore, and one one of you loves, but the other one hates? (-Lily @sprnklsofdreams)
Lauren: I know we both love Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, but our reading tastes align so much I have no idea if there’s a book out there that one of us loves and the other hates. I did finish reading Serpent & Dove out of morbid curiosity after Nana DNFed, but our impressions were still the same.
Nana: I don’t think such a book exists right now! We don’t typically read books we think we’ll hate. Even less likely is me recommending a book I know Lauren would hate even if I liked it, and vice versa.
Which 2021 releases are you most excited about? (-Rain @bookdragonism)
Lauren: I’m STOKED about Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan, The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, One Last Stop by Casey Mcquiston, Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas, Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim…the list goes on.
Nana: I’m so looking forward to finally reading my arc of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna! Some others high on my list are Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan…I mean honestly there are so many.
Personal Non-bookish Questions
Favorite hobbies outside of reading? (-May @gay_onnaise)
Lauren: Bullet journaling when I’m not being annoyed by my own handwriting, TRAVELING I miss traveling, and learning languages!! I’m working on relearning mandarin but hopefully I’ll have the braincells to learn other languages after that.
Nana: I love bullet journaling and painting (and somewhat drawing), and I also really miss going on hikes, and when it’s nice out I go roller skating!!
Pineapple on pizza or nah? (-Ace @peachnace)
Lauren: I love pineapples on pizza <3 you can cancel me now <3
Nana: I’m not super against it and I’ll eat it if it’s there, but it’s definitely not my favorite kind 🙂
Favorite Taylor Swift era? (-Cossette @cossettereads)
Lauren: It’s a tie between 1989 and folklore for me, although I’ve had ’tis the damn season on loop since it came out so uh…
Nana: I’m not sure I have a favorite era so much as each era plays a different role yenno? Speak Now has some heavy hitters that are good for some of my favorite books, and tolerate it has been soaking into my bones lately, and honestly…we’d be here all day if I could do a song analysis.