Now you can read classic novels on Instagram Stories

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Anna Brech
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A game-changing move by the New York Public Library is bringing the full text of classic books to Instagram

We always thought of Instagram and novels as two mutually exclusive spheres.

One is made for a quick-fix distraction - a mindless scroll through snaps of melted cheese toasties, Ibiza beaches and someone’s new pet cat.

The other is for a deep, meaningful meander; a cerebral process that demands your full attention and draws you into a different world.

However thanks to a bold new launch by the New York Public Library, these two opposing forces are set to become one, with the dawn of its intriguing new “Insta Novels” feature.

A joint enterprise between the library and ad agency Mother, Insta Novels are set to throw open the way that we read by bringing some of history’s most famous literature to a wider audience.

Various digital artists are on-board with the project to bring iconic books to life on Instagram.

Starting from today, featured novels will be posted as Stories on the New York Public Library’s feed and later archived in its highlights section.

The first novel to get the Insta Novels treatment is children’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. 

To read it, you simply tap right for the next page and left for the previous one, holding down to stay reading in one place.

Handily, the thumb section appears below the text so you don’t end up obscuring any of the story by reading it.

The digital element also comes into play nicely as Carroll’s fantastical story is embellished by a clever mix of animation and illustration, inspired by the 1865 book’s original design.

Beyond the interactive element, the creators have stayed faithful to the full original text of the story, too.

It’s hoped that the intuitive layout and easy accessibility of Insta Novels will bring classic fiction to a new generation of readers.

“Instagram unknowingly created the perfect bookshelf for this new kind of online novel,” says Corinna Falusi, chief creative officer at Mother (via Endgadget).

“From the way you turn the pages, to where you rest your thumb while reading, the experience is already unmistakably like reading a paperback novel.” 

Other books set to be transformed into Insta Novels on NYPL’s feed in coming weeks include Charlotte Perkins’ The Yellow Wallpaper, and Franz Kafka’s groundbreaking novella The Metamorphosis.

Although this is a special project by New York Public Library, it may signal a new era of reading in an Instagram age.

Are we soon to be casually flicking through the Insta version of Lolita on the tube, amid the standard baby and sunset beer snaps?

It’s unlikely this will ever replace the pleasure of physically reading a book, or even a Kindle (and we wouldn’t want it to).

But still, at a time of unprecedented digital development, we’re excited to see where it goes.

Images: Getty, Instagram via @NYPL


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.