Christine Riccio, host of the YouTube channel “Book Talk with Xtinemay” and Kat O’Keeffe host of “Katytastic” are super-enthusiastic book vloggers who partnered with Redbubble to help spread the word of the awesome literary fashion available to those who live for words. In a pair of videos Christine and Kat showed off their hauls of Redbubble swag including shirts, scarves, totes, pouches, and more. We spoke with the duo about their vlogging careers and their love of books and various fandoms, while highlighting the products they love so you can shop their looks if you’re the type of person who will never leave the house without a book in hand.
"...what I love about Redbubble is that whatever you’re into, Redbubble probably has a really cool t-shirt or phone case or something that will help you share your passion with the world!"
How did you get into vlogging about books on Youtube?
Christine: I’ve always loved reading. I grew up with Harry Potter, but it wasn’t until I read Twilight that I discovered the Young Adult genre. I found a whole slew of books I loved after that and read them all my first two years of college. None of my friends were big readers and I had no one to talk about anything I read with. I was already making comedy stuff on Youtube and I thought to myself maybe I should start making videos about the books that I read so I can find other people to talk about them with. I had never seen someone talk about books on YouTube. The Booktube community didn’t exist back then. I thought I’d be lucky if I managed to round up 500 people/subscribers that liked books and earlier this year I passed 200,000. I’m so blown away by the amount of people that love reading. It’s wonderful!
Kat: I’m actually an aspiring author, and back in 2011 I participated in National Novel Writing Month—an annual event in which writers from all over the world attempt to complete a 50,000 word rough draft in the 30 days of November—and I thought it would be fun to track my progress with daily update videos. After that I just kept making videos, and when I didn’t have something writing related to discuss, I knew I could always talk about reading. I’ve always loved stories across all mediums, so it just made sense to talk about my love for books on my YouTube channel!
Your videos have racked up hundreds of thousands of views. How did you build such followings?
Christine: I mean there’s no real answer to a question like this! You make videos about something you’re passionate about! You interact with the community of people who watch your videos, you watch their videos, make friends. You work hard to make videos you’re proud of! I love what I do and I like to think that shows in my work.
Kat: It was a very gradual thing, especially in the beginning. After my first year of making videos, I barely had 100 subscribers, but I was completely thrilled with that! I never imagined I’d get to the hundred thousand subscriber mark! Aside from aesthetic elements like making sure my video is framed nicely and well lit, I just try to make my content entertaining and insightful. If I can bring a new book to someone’s attention, or inspire someone to write or read, or even just make someone laugh, then I consider that video a huge success.
Vlogging about books (and being so successful at it) is a great example forging your own creative path, what advice do you have for passionate fans who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Christine: Again, if you’re making videos about something you’re passionate about it shows! So make videos about things that you love and people with similar passions will find you! Never try to force videos out of yourself with the mindset that “this is what other people want to see.” Make what you want to make! Have fun with it and your enthusiasm will shine through in your videos.
Kat: My go to advice is always just to get started already! No matter what you’re doing, there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, so the sooner you get started with something the sooner you’ll get good at it! I also think it’s important that you’re proud of what you’re doing and you’re having fun with it. And don’t let your definition of success rely on other people! Whether it’s vlogging or writing or anything else, do it for yourself, not for others.
Why did you choose the Redbubble products that you chose? Why do they appeal to you?
Christine: I chose the “This. Sick. Beet.” t-shirt because I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. I know, who isn’t? But I’m a hipster Taylor Swift fan. I’ve been listening-slash-stalking her work since 2006. Like, I’ve been on the Tswift train since the days of “Tim Mcgraw” “Tear Drops On My Guitar” and “Our Song.” Self-proclaimed hipster fan and proud. I also picked the “Wizard for Life” notebook, this one’s more obvious I mean Harry Potter’s my home boy. Hermione’s my idol. I’m still holding out hope for that letter from Dumbledore. And I also chose the “Extra Life” travel mug. I grew up with Mario games on Super Nintendo and Nintendo64. The mug sports a nice pixelated heart rather than a little green mushroom – but I can’t help but think of Super Mario Bros. I love my Mario games.
Kat: I’m a very passionate person, and I’m especially passionate about fandoms. I love a lot of things—from books to TV shows to video games to things like coffee—and I like expressing that in my clothing. I have a large collection of fandom related merch, and I’m always looking to add more! And what I love about Redbubble is that whatever you’re into, Redbubble probably has a really cool t-shirt or phone case or something that will help you share your passion with the world!
What’s been your favorite books of 2015 so far?
Christine: I’ve already read so many good books this year! These are books that haven’t necessarily come out this year but books I read this year. My favorites so far have been Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, which is the third book in her amazing fantasy series that starts with Throne of Glass; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, which is an adorable story about family and first loves; and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, which is a completely epic fantasy heist novel.
Kat: A few of my favorite 2015 releases have been A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. I really enjoyed both of those! I also loved some older books that I read for the first time this year like the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I’ve also recently gotten into comics and graphic novels, and a few that really stood out to me were Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and the Saga series by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
What are you currently reading?
Christine: I’m currently reading Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and thus far I’m loving it! It’s made me laugh out loud countless times already and I’m only 80 pages in. I’m excited to fly through it!
Kat: I’m currently reading The Diviners by Libba Bray and I’m really liking it! It’s the first book in a supernatural historical series set in 1920s New York and it’s awesome so far!