BookTube Spotlight: an Interview with Jesse George (@jessethereader)

BookTube has been a significant part of my reading life. When I was new to blogging, I often watched book hauls and reviews online to find titles to add to my TBR. Soon, various channels appeared on my recommendations feed, and one of them was jessethereader. As far as the Western world is concerned, Jesse is one of the pioneers of BookTube. Other prominent channels include abookutopia, thebookbasement, and Ariel Bissett.

These bookworms are celebrities in their own right, so I was astonished when Jesse followed me on Instagram last November. Because of our mutual love for Jesus, books, and K-pop, we became fast friends/pen pals. Eventually, I asked if he would like to have a blog interview, and he kindly granted my wish. I did my best to think of engaging questions, so I hope that you’ll learn a lot from Jesse’s insightful answers. Happy reading, and cheers to meaningful friendships! 😀

1. How has BookTube affected your reading life?

“I’d say that it has had both a positive and negative impact on my life. The most negative part is that I feel like my reading life is open for judgment, whereas before I could read whatever I wanted and no one would judge me for the books I enjoyed.

“It might seem weird to think that people would judge others for the kind of books they read, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who have made fun of me for reading young adult books in particular.

“From my bookshelf tour video being put on forums run by trolls and having to delete hundreds of comments judging the books I’m reading to getting the weekly e-mail from a stranger telling me that I should be reading “classics” because they’re superior. I love sharing my passion for books on the Internet, but when things like this occur, it makes me not want to read at all.

“The only other real negative impact is that there are times when I put a lot of pressure on myself to read ALL THE BOOKS. Usually, when I do that, I end up in a reading slump. But being on a platform where it’s normal for people to read 50 books in a month, I often feel like I’m a fake reader if I can’t keep up.

“Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives! BookTube has completely changed my reading life for the better. I began my channel as a way to document my reading journey because I was just getting back into reading at the time and I wanted something to hold me accountable in making sure I was actively reading.

“It’s a platform that has helped push me to read more and has encouraged me to read outside of my comfort zone. It’s opened my eyes to so many books I’d never heard about before, causing my TBR pile to soar through the roof. Additionally, it’s led me to so many bookish friends from all around the world. BookTube has shown me how books can change lives.”

2. Describe your ideation process. Do you balance new and traditional content?

“I feel like my mind is always on the hunt for the next best idea. There are times when I’m reading a book or watching a TV show and I realize that as I’m taking in the information, my mind is trying to figure out if there’s anything that can be turned into a video. I guess you could say my process involves always searching for an idea but also being open to an idea falling in my lap and running with it.

“I also firmly believe in the weirder the idea, the better. Some of my weirdest ideas have done surprisingly well on the platform! For example, my Flip the Page Challenge was one that took off, and I was sure that nobody was going to watch it.

“Over the years, I’ve become quite a bit of a perfectionist with my content, and it’s held me back quite a bit. But I’m trying to learn to trust myself more and just enjoy the overall creation process. I think the more you enjoy the process of creating content, you’ll start to naturally open up yourself to more original ideas.

“I do balance new and traditional content because I think it’s important to both have staple content on your channel while also introducing new ideas to keep your audience interested. I’ve always seen participating in the staple content on BookTube (TBRs, wrap-ups, and hauls) as being a thread that connects us as a community.”

3. What was the very first book that you reviewed? How has your review process changed over the years?

“The first book I ever reviewed on my channel was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green! I can’t even look back at that video without falling into a full-on cringe-fest. That version of myself was still figuring out how to do the whole review thing. I remember thinking back in 2012 that I needed to be very proper and soft-spoken to be seen as legitimate and to be respected. If you watch my channel now, you’ll see that I’ve completely let go of that image. That person back then was hiding his real upbeat personality because he felt he needed to be a certain way on camera.

“I honestly don’t do as many individual reviews on my channel these days because they don’t do well, and I find that it’s better to post content that you know your audience wants to see. I more so lean into the wrap-up style of reviews on my channel through my series “Books I’ve Read Recently,” which is often actually titled “Books I’ve Read Not So Recently” because I get behind on reviews.

“I’d say that I have a much more well-rounded opinion when it comes to talking about books these days. I’m better at voicing my concerns over things I don’t like but also making sure I find things that I did enjoy to balance out my views on a book. I don’t even really see myself as a reviewer, and I hope people don’t look at me as a reviewer who knows no wrong because books are very personal.

“If I love a book, it doesn’t mean that everyone who watches my channel will share in that feeling. The books I end up loving are ones that tend to have story threads that remind me of personal experiences I’ve had or…you know I just fall into the fanboy pool and something about it has won over my heart!”

4. How has the pandemic affected your bookish life? Are you able to read more because of the quarantine?

“When we first went into quarantine, I honestly thought that my reading life would thrive, but it has been a bit of a rocky road. I think the hardest part of it all has just been staying home (surprise, surprise!). I used to love getting a little bit of reading done at my local boba shop and having a change of environment, but now it’s just the same routine: wake up, grab some coffee, and read in bed! Not that that’s a bad routine to have, but I get bored with routines real quick.

“I’ve found that I’m reading about the same amount as I did before the quarantine. I should probably feel guilty about that because it feels like I have all the time in the world right now. But…having all the time in the world means avoiding reading by playing my Nintendo switch! Oops…”

5. Can you share some life lessons from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children?

“I love this question! 3 life lessons from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (aka my all-time favorite book, you should read it, hug it, and love it!) 

a. “When an unexpected door opens in your life, walk through it! It could end up changing your life for the better. (Or it could lead you to a life with monsters, but it’s up to you if you walk through the door.) 

b. “Own your unique side! It’s okay to be different, and the people who judge that side of you aren’t worth your time. 

c. “If you’re going through a moment in your life where you feel alone, hang in there! You will find your people. It might be tomorrow, it might be a year from now, or it could be ten years from now! At some point in your life, you’ll find people who you connect with, and it will be worth the wait.”

6. What makes a BookTuber take an extended break or hiatus?

“I’d say the main thing is the amount of work that goes into being a BookTuber. BookTube isn’t as easy as it may come across to viewers. Don’t get me wrong. Being able to read and create content about books is a full-on blast, but there are times when it becomes a lot to take on.

“From reading, to coming up with original and fun ideas, to the actual filming process, and then the editing process! I think you have to figure out a way to maintain your passion for BookTube to keep going at it for a long time. The thing that keeps me going is the connections I’ve made through making content. I love hearing from people from all around the world and connecting over books.”

7. If you could make a bookish video with BTS, Dreamcatcher, or Pentagon, what would you do?

“That is such a hard question, but I honestly feel like it’d be fun to just sit in front of a camera with them and talk about books in depth. I feel like we hardly ever hear about K-pop idols talking about their favorite books, and if we do, they don’t ever really go too deep with their thoughts on them. I’d love to do a book recommendation style video with them or even just sit down and chat about books that have impacted their lives!”


About Jesse George


I’m still finding my footing.
Reader 📚 | YouTuber | Jesus lover |

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