I have been a part of #bookstagram since April of this year, and for being a relative newbie, have noticed that there are some general themes of the book community that deserve a closer look. I thought it would be interesting to informally analyze the “mob mentality” of bookstagram (and other bookish social media outlets) from a hopefully unbiased point of view; thus my new series The Booksta Mentality was born! There are going to be several things that I want to open for discussion over the course of a few months, but first and foremost: let’s talk candles.
After I stalked the mailbox for two weeks straight, waiting for my next order of candles to arrive from the UK, it hit me: I may have an obsession. An obsession that burns bright in my soul, an obsession that robs me of $50 every time I hop on Etsy to peruse my favorite shops. I just love book inspired candles.
And I am most certainly not alone.
Book candles can almost be described as a phenomenon. And as I was buying the 17th candle for my collection, I finally asked myself: why? Why do I continue to purchase these, not-inexpensive mind you, candles when they basically serve as props in my bookstagram pictures and on my bookshelf? I hardly burn them, yet I covet them like Gollum and the One Ring.
So what do we have here? Is it just the fandoms at work? When you finish a series or a book you really enjoyed, sometimes when you close those pages the story lives on in your mind and your heart. With all of our favorite fictional places and people being turned into physical smells, we are now elevating our reading (and let’s be honest, our post reading) experience past the visual sense.
But why are some candle companies more successful than others?
I decided to poll the masses, and informally asked my Instagram followers the other day what they specifically looked for in a bookish candle. And an overwhelming majority of people unsurprisingly said that the candle labels are usually what win them over. Unsurprising not because we are visual creatures, but unsurprising since most of us are buying these candles online via Etsy stores, and have no way of knowing if we will even like the scent before we drop $15 on it. Also, let us consider that there are even a quarter of the buyers out there who, like me, hardly burn their book candles. So, instead we gaze adoringly at these labels that can honestly be described as works of art, adorned with the names of our favorite fictional characters and favorite fictional places. Is THAT worth the $15?
I have done a bit of research into the process of actually making candles, and while Pinterest is a great starting point, there is so much more at work here than simply melting wax and making labels. Certain waxes require different wicks. Some waxes don’t take dye as easily as others, the fragrances need to be added at a certain temperature, some waxes can only hold a certain amount of fragrance, different pouring temperatures yield different results… the list goes on.
So, I decided to reach out to some of the book candle companies I have found (both large and smaller) to see what their take on the book candle phenomenon was, where their inspiration comes from, and other general candle goodness.
From all of the responses I received, it appears that Callie, owner of the company From the Page, has been making candles the longest – about 4 years now. She told me the inspiration came to her when she came across a tutorial on how to make candles while perusing Pinterest; but knew she wanted hers to have a bit of a twist. Names of candles are interesting, and even more so if they evoke the memory of a person or place, so wouldn’t that be a great place to start? Being an avid reader, Callie decided to look to scent ideas in her books, and says that “the inspiration is almost limitless after that“.
Both Brittany (owner of Novelly Yours Candles) and Lili (The Leaky Candle) told me their inspiration for creating candles was born on a whim. A dull summer that needed to be filled, or a new hobby to be developed. Naturally, they both looked to books as scent inspirations since they are both huge readers, however, Brittany said that the lack of Young Adult genre oriented candles is really what spurred her to open her shop.
“…(at the time, I was seeing shops that were mostly geared towards adult and/or classics) and mainly because (at the time) there were no candles for my favorite series like The Raven Cycle, The Lunar Chronicles and the Grisha Trilogy. I ended up opening an Etsy shop because I just wanted to share these candles with other people! They were something I was looking for and I hoped that I could make someone else’s bookish day with them too!”
Lili says that while she of course makes her bookish inspired candles, she also pulls ideas from a multitude of fandoms including TV shows and movies as well. “I watch a TON of shows and movies, and read a TON of books, among other things, and I like to make candles based off of different stuff! I especially like to aim towards some fandoms that are smaller, cult-following groups that don’t usually get merchandise like this!”
“A few years ago, I was a rep for a well-known brand of wax melts. I was told they were all natural with no chemicals and I believed them. One day, I did my research and found out it was a lie. So, I decided to make my own wax melts that were made from all soy, dye free, and chemical free. I was hooked from there.”
I thought this was really interesting, since many people started making candles as a just something to do, Rachel started making them because she was unhappy with the product that was available to her.
I think we could drag out the discussion of book candles into several posts, but for the sake of our attention spans today, I want to end this post with a bit of a discussion based on how Jonathan, the owner of The Candle Chronicles, answered my question of where he first got the idea to start making bookish candles. As one of the newer companies on the book candle scene, I was really curious to see where his inspiration came from, which was specifically while reading the Harry Potter series. He said that the Harry Potter books really “make your imagination run haywire, and because of that there is so much you could do with them”.
I would assume that it is extremely hard to balance originality with popularity. For example, any Sarah J. Maas fandom candle seems to be in extremely high demand right now, along with all things Harry Potter. I could argue that most people in the reading community have some sense of what Butterbeer smells like to them, yet it is one of the most popular scent creations in book candles. Which brings me to my question:
Is the pressure in delivering scents of iconicand popular reads greater than other candle scents? Is it better to be original and new, or is it better to just give the masses what they want?
Like, what if this brand new edition of Butterbeer is better or more perfect than the other 3 Butterbeer candles I already own? WHAT IF?
Next time on The Booksta Mentality, I will be discussing what makes all of these candle companies unique and different from others, as well as specific smells and concoctions and sorcery of that nature! If you have any poignant thoughts on these points, or bookish candles in general, throw me your two cents in the comment section!