Nurturing a community of digital bookworms

Nurturing a community of digital bookworms
Photo by Eden Mae Aguanta

In ancient times, humans relied on bookstores and libraries, fostering civilizations' growth. However, in the post-Gutenberg era, the internet revolutionized learning, making it more accessible.

Take Julius Caesar, for instance, who learned from papyrus scrolls. As we progress from the pre-internet era, learning becomes more flexible and inclusive, marking a significant cultural shift. 

In today's digital age, electronic books, online papers, and book recommendations dominate social media.

Joining the internet wave is Freshpagesbyea, searchable via @freshpagesbyea on Instagram. A creative media hub curated by Eden Mae Aguanta, a 26-year-old Mass Communications graduate turned Literature postgraduate, it represents a departure from the contemplation of ancient libraries.

Eden's platform, epitomizing the "digital bookworm," encompasses literature, pop culture, arts, music, and movies. With over 18,000 followers since its post-pandemic inception, it stands as a noteworthy achievement within her community.

Based on the analytics, her followers are from Southeast Asia, North and South American countries and some from different parts of Europe.

“I honestly did not expect I would get this far. It’s amazing how many friends I have made there from all over the Philippines and other countries. Turns out, many out there just wanted an outlet to share their thoughts on books like me. I was so happy when I realized that this is an actual community— with like-minded individuals and kindred spirits who love books just as I do. Through this, I have discovered more authors from different cultures that I am looking forward to delving into,” she said while sipping her dark americano coffee.

Top reads

As her online community experiences unprecedented growth, Eden, a self-proclaimed "bookworm," has graciously shared her literary favorites, spanning top-tier books, beloved authors, and preferred genres, with a particular penchant for classics.

In the realm of literary exploration, she has accomplished the feat of finishing more than 20 physical books each year—excluding her online reading adventures.

“My favorite authors are the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and Oscar Wilde. Growing up, I also read Bob Ong. My favorite Filipino writer is Lualhati Bautista. I loved reading Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez and Seek Ye Whore of  

Yvette Tan,” she said.

Lifelong passion

Much like fellow book enthusiasts,  Eden's love affair with books ignited during her childhood, a passion that has continued to burn brightly over the years. 

Her earliest memories of books trace back to a thoughtful donation from a family friend working in a university library, a gesture that sparked the flame of her literary journey. 

Unlike some families with exquisite leather-bound almanacs or encyclopedias, Eden's household did not boast such luxuries.

Reflecting on the past, Eden recognizes the luxury that books represented in her life. Today, she finds herself entering a new phase—an era she fondly terms as being a "savant scholar."

Drawing inspiration from Anne Shirley of Green Gables, the classic 1908 children's novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Eden adopts a critical reader's lens. 

Discerning reader

She no longer merely skims the surface but delves into texts with erudition, extracting layers of meaning beyond the face value. This transformation underscores her commitment to evolving as a discerning reader, immersing herself in the intellectual depths of literature.

“When you’re a reader, it feels a little lonely at times not having an outlet to share your reactions, thoughts, and feelings about the books you read," she said. “I have been a reader since I was little, but back then it was more like passive reading. I pick up a book, love it or hate it, then move on. It came to a point when writing it in my journal wasn’t enough anymore. I needed to have a way to share it with others without having to bombard my friends with an avalanche of messages in the middle of the night when I finished an impressive book. So I figured I could make a separate `all about books' account on Instagram and follow a few friends and family.” 

While it may sound cliché, Eden firmly believes that reading is fun. It serves as a gateway to the world's greatest stories, unfolding every day and offering humans a diverse spectrum of colors to better understand cultures.

“It’s in the mundane, in our thoughts and our dreams, and the people we encounter. You realize that the greatest fiction stories are just based on real-life events, just sprinkled with creativity and a little bit of imagination played by the hands of a talented writer who can effectively tell a story. My advice is to read what you enjoy. Find a book that will resonate with you and share it with others” she added.

Books, according to Eden, possess a magical quality that transports readers across time, bridging the past to the future. They hold immense power, shaping our perceptions and influencing our understanding of the world. 

Throughout the ages, from practical beginnings to the rise and fall of civilizations, books stand as one of humanity's greatest inventions. 

The essence of a good society, with a utopian foundation, hinges on the indispensable role of books. DEF


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