Peter Swanson

Instagram Helps Me Choose My Next Book

Out of all social media apps, Instagram is my favorite and has been for years. I don’t utilize as much as I used to; pre-algorithm/feed change, though, I was on it probably too much. But I still enjoy it and the fact that it has such an active bookstagram community is really inspiring.

I have a bookstagram-themed IG account (@literarilythrilling) and I have been working on making it better. My personal IG was used as I saw fit, going weeks at a time without posting. With this one, though, I understand being active is numero uno on things to do. So, I am trying. I am wanting to get better at my pictures. Get better at my posts. Trying to decide how I want to do reviews — short, to the point reviews there, linking to more detailed reviews here?

One of the biggest things with IG, and you very well know this if you, too, use IG to promote yourself in any form or fashion, is the engagement. I am trying to think of ways to increase engagement in a thoughtful way. I did this recently, and I wanted to tell you about it!

Using IG stories and the ability to have people vote for options, I gave my followers four book choices. The books were broken up into pairs, with the winner of each pair then being put up against each other. Why did I do this? Because Instagram was going to choose my next read.


I’ve seen bloggers and vloggers do similar “Instagram chooses my…” before. But I had never participated in it from this part of the activity; I had always been the one voting on options. I found this to be fun and it was interesting to see which books my followers would choose!

In this first round, I had The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware against Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson. Even before I looked at the results, I had a feeling I knew which would win this round.

The second pair, I had A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Evardsson against The Whisper Man by Alex North. While I was 100% certain with the first pair, this pairing I literally had no idea which would come out on top! I had seen both books equally overall on my feed (though, of course, The Whisper Man was more recently showcased everywhere) and I felt it could definitely be an either/or.


So, for round two, I was even more excited. Of course The Turn of the Key was in this round (I feel like I was being mean to Before She Knew Him, in retrospect) but I did not know at all which it would be up against. And with The Whisper Man having such a strong win in its round, I was left having no clue who would win!

Imagine my surprise when I saw the results.


I had to laugh. Of course this is what would happen! It never entered my mind that a 50/50 split would occur, so I had no contingency plan. So, I sat on it for a day and tried to decide what would be my next step. Then, suddenly, it came to me: Read the first chapters of each.

Now, this didn’t work how I expected it to, because The Turn of the Key isn’t’ written in a chapter format. So, instead, I read roughly the same amount of pages of each to keep it equal. I was still just expecting to go with The Turn of the Key, so imagine my surprise when I was sitting there, both books to either side of me, reflecting on the passages I just read.

I wanted to continue The Whisper Man more. In those roughly 10 or so pages, I was creeped out, enthralled, curious. I was equally curious about The Turn of the Key — this book has been on my radar for months and I greatly enjoy Ruth Ware’s writing. But my brain kept going back to The Whisper Man.

I haven’t officially started it yet; I got incredibly busy with work, my mental health was off this week, and all those other excuses we make. I even am wondering — as interested as I am — if I’m in a good headspace for a thriller. I started a different book yesterday (relatable or what?) not in the thriller genre, just to see if that would be a better fit. I’m thinking I’ll start The Whisper Man today, though, and I look forward to reporting back my opinions — especially after I read The Turn of the Key, as well.

Tell me, fellow bookstagram friends, how is that you increase engagement in a thoughtful way on your pages?

Also — which book(s) did/would you vote for?