It's really hard to find anyone on BookTube that has unique video ideas, isn't too pretentious, and offers recommendations that you haven't heard thousands of times before. Lucky for us, Dakota Warren exists. With videos titled "21 Oddly Specific Book Recommendations," "How to fall in love with reading (& how to make time for it)," and "fine, let's talk modern poetry," there's something for everyone, whether you're a seasoned literary aficionado or a novice. The icing on the cake is the impeccable aesthetic her videos have. With her platinum blonde hair that's usually adorned with a black headband, oversized collars, and monochromatic wardrobe, Dakota almost looks like a storybook character herself. And her room, adorned with lace curtains and an abundance of framed prints of classic art elevates her videos into an almost cinematic experience. Dakota isn't just a YouTuber though, she's also a writer and poet herself. Her poetry collection, On Sun Swallowing, will be released soon.
Who are your inspirations and what lessons have they taught you?
My initial and perhaps greatest influence into the world of literature was Edgar Allan Poe. His stories and poems are riddled with this intoxicating magic, and I vowed to emulate that magic as best as I could within my own words. Since then, there has been infinite people who have inspired me to both read and write, too many to list let alone remember. I’m inspired by anyone who writes unapologetically and reads almost obsessively, anybody who dedicates themselves to their passions whole heartedly and without any reluctance or fear.
What advice would you give to reluctant readers?
There is this omnipotent, magical kind of imagery that your mind paints for you when you read, the kind you miss when you watch a film. The characters, settings, and plot are per personal, sacred, yours. If you’re reluctant to read because you’re not confident in your comprehension level or reading speed, remember everyone reads at their own pace, and these are things that are learnt with time and practice. Platforms like BookTube and BookTok are incredible for sparking inspiration for books suited to your interests!
What’s the biggest misconception about BookTube?
I think a lot of people assume (myself included, before joining the dark side) that the vast majority of books discussed on BookTube are generic bestsellers or the same over-hyped books repeated. I think that’s valid, because some of the most popular BookTubers do tend to favour those sorts of books to appeal to a larger demographic, but there’s so much incredible content out there that covers literally every hyper specific type of book - you just have to know where to look.
What’s a book you read recently that made you laugh out loud?
Controversial, but American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis. Obviously not the rancid chapters dedicated to unspeakable horrors, but the chapters in between, following the mundane tasks of such a comically unreliable narrator that you can’t help but laugh along with the obvious satire. It’s a book that struggles to find the balance between deep and dumb in perhaps the most disturbing way possible. Please don’t take that as a recommendation! It’s one of the only books I don’t think I could ever read again.
What made you want to start your YouTube channel?
I already openly discussed literature on my other social media platforms, but they were all super inhibiting time-wise for more in depth chats. YouTube was suggested to me a few times but it was never something I really saw myself doing. I suppose lockdown #6 where I’m living freed up some time and inspired me to actually give it a go!
How does your identity inform your work?
My identity is very much this transient, ever shifting enigma, and I think that’s a huge aspect of my work. I veer from predictability or consistency, and favour approaching themes in a cryptic manner so as to allow space for anybody to cram their own meaning into them. Words are a gloriously ambiguous thing.
I love your poetry. When and why did you start writing poetry?
Thank you very much! I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I remember my primary school teachers pulling me aside in class and telling me my poetry was too intense for a 9 year old. If anything, that was motivation in my eyes, as intensity is something I aim for. I have cryptic thoughts about the self and the world that I can’t seem to recognise until they’re written down before me. I started freelancing a few years ago and since then I suppose it’s been a nice balance between professional, hobby and iPhone notes therapy, if you will.
Which classic literary character do you identify the most with?
Alice (in Wonderland) for her wild curiosity, Dorian Gray for his problematic hedonism, and Dracula for his dark and evil soul (and affinity for drinking blood for breakfast).
How do you hope your work will change in the future?
I’m very much stuck in my ways with my preferred genres for reading and my personal style of writing. I think it’s important to have a niche to focus on and be recognised for, but it's equally important to appreciate all kinds of art and relish in fluidity. I hope in the future my literary taste and writing style will be totally ambiguous and multi-faceted.