BookTuber. Book blogger. And mother of (bearded) dragons.
That almost sums up writer Paige Firth.
I got a chance to talk to Firth, the owner of the ever-growing YouTube channel Enchantology, about her up-and-coming BookTubing career. In the process of meeting Paige, I discovered that she is one savvy, fascinating woman. Not only is she in the process of building her literary reviewing channel but she’s: a talented photographer, working on a very interesting novel, a psychology aficionado, and a women’s rights supporter.
Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by, Paige. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I’m a 21-year-old with a love of books, to keep it simple. I write books (none are published… yet), I read books and I review them on my YouTube channel within a community affectionately named by its participants as ‘Booktube.’
Introductions are awkward. Or maybe I’m just awkward.
Ha ha, to live is to be awkward. For those who don’t know, can you tell us what BookTubing is and how you got involved in it?
I found Booktube more than a year ago. I was searching for book reviews, and was surprised to see that Google had recommended a video. I’d tried book blogging (and still try) but hadn’t found that much success… but the Booktube community seemed like such fun. I watched booktubers for a long time, and then came to discover that there was an ever bigger community than I had realized.
Many people who stumble upon the older and more popular booktubers may think Booktube focuses mostly on reading YA, but there is a booktuber for every reader of every genre. I’m subscribed to nearly 300 booktubers, all of them sharing at least something in common with my reading taste but all offering something very different.
Being on camera was something that made me incredibly anxious, and I was driven to overcome those anxieties last September. I was also yearning to make reading a more social experience. I was reading more than I had at any point in my life and I wanted to talk to people about what I was reading, but I always felt like I was speaking into a vacuum.
I kept attempting book blogging but something about it felt impersonal. Watching videos feels like a much more personal experience, and the people you watch begin to feel like your friends, and I didn’t really feel like that with the book bloggers I was following. So I made a channel! I was ridiculously awkward in the beginning, but learned to be more comfortable on camera and people supported me even when I felt like what I was posting was totally embarrassing. For anyone who loves books or wants to get into reading, it’s a great place to be.
What are some of the benefits of making video reviews vs. traditional blogging reviews?
Like I mentioned previously, I think videos are just more personal. There’s something infectious about watching a video review where the reviewer is bouncing up and down with joy over a book. You don’t really get that from written reviews. There are some people who watch Booktube and weren’t that into reading, but have started reading more as a result of how exciting Booktube makes it seem. Getting more people to read is, of course, always great!
I’ve also found it easier to reach a wider audience by switching to video reviews. Before I started Booktubing, I don’t remember anyone telling me that they picked up a book because of my review of it. Since I’ve started the video reviews, I hear it often. Videos tend to be easier to consume than blog posts, which makes it feel more available to those looking to engage with content online. I still do traditional written reviews, sometimes in supplement to video reviews and sometimes without a video version… but for books that I have strong feelings for, videos are just an easier medium to communicate through.
Besides BookTubing you have some other hobbies like photography. You took some fabulous “Little Red Riding Hood” inspired photos. How long have you been a photographer and what are your favorite subjects to capture?
I bought a DSLR in 2009, so you could probably say it started there. Before I’d obtained a “real camera” I had a cheap Nikon digital camera that I took an interesting variety of selfies with as a kind of creative outlet, as awkward as that is. I’ve always been too shy to direct anyone else in photos, so my human subjects are often me, myself and I.
I tried out wedding photography once, and absolutely hated it. My favorite subjects are flowers, for sure. They don’t fuss if you keep experimenting with angles and such, and I prefer to keep my photographing experimental rather than technical.
What is your dream shoot?
Outside on a nice day, alone, with all of the time in the world and lots of subjects to explore and photograph. Low stress shooting conditions are the best.
Your favorite genre to read is fantasy. Why do you think fantasy stories make some of the most popular books and movies? What can fantasy teach us about the human condition?
Fantasy is just a lot of fun. In movies, fantastical elements make for a really cool aesthetic. That’s a really shallow way to start off, but seriously – who isn’t thrilled by the sight of a CGI dragon? For people who watch fantasy but don’t read it, that’s what I imagine attracts them to it. Aesthetic and the pure escapism of it all.
Collectively, authors of fantasy have definitely addressed anything and everything regarding the human condition. The genre is practically limitless, and the nature of the genre allows for really creative ways to address difficult topics. As a very idealistic genre, fantasy can easily deal with abstract topics and turn them into something more concrete.
What is your top favorite fantasy novel?
I can never pick a favorite! I’ll give you a top three. Firstly, the book series that got me into fantasy is “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling. I can’t pick a favorite, but it had to be mentioned. The series introduced me to the genre and also spurred on my interest in writing.
My second choice is “Deathless” by Catherynne M. Valente. “Deathless” is a standalone novel, more on the mythological/retelling side of fantasy and also has very strong historical fiction elements. It takes place in Russia around World War 2, and is a rather tragic love story. It’s one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, but I love it.
My last pick is one I read recently, and that’s “Saga Volume 1” written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It’s a graphic novel, mixes science-fiction and fantasy and is absolutely fantastic. I’m officially obsessed.
Can you tell us a bit about your love of psychology? You mentioned online that you thought that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is fascinating. How did you stumble on it?
I’m a bit of a misanthrope, but I still find people to be fascinating. I’ve always enjoyed observing people and predicting behavior, and psychology allows you to do so with a more scientific basis rather than just following your intuition.
I found MBTI years ago and I think someone I was friends with had been officially tested, and I looked into it to see what they were talking about. I fell down the rabbit hole and have been digging into MBTI from various angles ever since. It’s become a pretty big phenomenon online, in comparison to other measures of personality.
In your eyes, how does the MBTI apply to understanding how people act? Do you think it’s a good tool that can be applied to writing fiction?
MBTI is comprised of eight cognitive functions, and every individual tends to use them at varying level – with a focus on four in particular. The cognitive functions are basically ways in which we think, and how we think often translates into how people behave. Writing is one of those things that I believe you can examine through the MBTI lens and find ways to better understand your writing process.
Certain types in the system are more inclined to write certain genres, and they also tend to have pretty clear distinctions for what writing style will best work for that specific type. For an easy example, ‘Perceivers’ in the MBTI system translates to ‘pantsers’ in writing jargon, whilst ‘Judgers’ in the MBTI system translates to ‘plotters.’ MBTI can also examine how we come up with ideas for stories, and how to make sure we finish what we’ve started.
You mentioned in one of your bios that you’re a feminist. My last novella addresses women’s rights during the early ’60s. I think the term “feminist” is a misunderstood word. What do you think it means to be a feminist today? What are some current strides you’ve seen women’s rights make? What are some issues that you hope will be improved upon?
The general definition of a feminist is just someone who believes in the equality of the sexes, but there is really more to it than that. You don’t have a movement just because a bunch of individuals believe in the same broad idea. There needs to be collective action.
‘Mainstream feminism’ these days is a pretty weak form of feminism. There is a lot of effort being made to make feminism sexy and fun, when that really isn’t the point. I (and a lot of other feminists) think that some women just end up sexualizing their oppression, which is just anti-feminist and harmful to the movement.
We’ve obviously made a lot of strides, right to vote, advancing reproductive rights, everything people have already heard before. I think we have a long way to go. Society as a whole seems unconvinced that the movement isn’t necessary, but this is because patriarchy is so engrained in our day-to-day lives that we don’t question it.
As mentioned before, I think the sexualization of our oppression is an issue, I’d like to see more feminists stepping up and being critical of the sex industry. Allowing people to buy and sell women like objects is harmful to women as a group, and encourages human trafficking globally. The basic idea that women are here for men to use as they please is connected to so many problems addressed by feminism, and I think taking down the sex industry would cause a domino effect in women’s favor.
What would you say most early women in their twenties think about feminism in general today?
Non-feminists think it’s pointless. I’d read somewhere that less than 25% of American women identify as feminists, so I suppose the majority would be non-feminists. Feminist young women, in my experience, typically view feminism as a path to empowerment. That’s not really the point of feminism, but that seems to be how it’s often viewed in ‘mainstream feminism’.
Rumor has it that you’re working on an historical Victorian fantasy novel. What is the premise of your book?
Yes! I’ve been contemplating taking out the historical Victorian bit out. I know, that probably feels like a stab in the heart to you, Davonna. The setting will definitely have a Victorian feel to it, it just may not end up actually being Victorian England.
The story follows a young girl who has been locked in a mental asylum after seeing strange men take the soul of her dying uncle, an unjustifiable claim that appears to be a symptom of mental illness. While in the asylum, she befriends another patient who claims to have a compass tattoo that actually works as a guide in times of need.
Together they uncover a secret underground society where magic flourishes, and their gifts may be some of the keys to preventing an oncoming war between the living and the dead.
It’s still in the early idea phase, but that’s how it’s looking right now!
Thanks again for having me here today, Davonna!
You are welcome! Fascinating interview and very interesting thoughts on feminism and the MBTI. Looking forward to reading your novel (which will be published, I am more than sure), historical or not.
To find out more about Paige and all her very thought-provoking ideas, have a look-see at her social media sites:
Booktube Channel: http://youtube.com/
Book Blog: http://enchantology.blogspot.