The New York Public Library Is Bringing Real Stories to Your Instagram Stories

Read a classic novel in between looking at pictures of your friends’ dogs

Listen: dogs and vacations are great. We love dogs and vacations. But as Instagram increasingly becomes the only social network you can spend significant time on without wanting to bury yourself in a hole for 12 million years, you may find yourself wondering: Is this the internet equivalent of junk food? Am I burying myself in nail art videos and artsy top-down pictures of meals in order to avoid engaging with anything important?

The answer is yes, and by all means keep it up! But now, while you’re clicking through cats and cocktails, you can throw in some classic literature so you feel like you’re doing something real. Starting today, the New York Public Library (along with creative agency Mother) is putting the “stories” back in “Instagram stories,” uploading classic books, stories, and novellas to the platform along with artwork by Instagram-popular designers.

First up is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Magoz. As with any Instagram story, readers will be able to stop and hold the text by touching the screen. (There’s a handy marked spot to put your thumb, with a cute animation when you’re not touching it.) You let go to advance to the next page, or just let it jump ahead if you’re an accomplished speed-reader.

The fonts, colors, and design elements (which will include still images and videos) are all optimized for reading—a warmer-than-white background is easy on the eyes, and the typeface is Georgia, “one of the first serif fonts ever designed for screen to make long form text more pleasing and legible,” according to NYPL). But Instagram’s story function, says Mother chief creative officer Corinna Falusi, was optimized for reading already. “Instagram unknowingly created the perfect bookshelf for this new kind of online novel,” she said in a press release. “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.” This is also, she notes, an important time to be making classic literature more accessible: “We have to promote the value of reading, especially with today’s threats to American system of education.”

Upcoming stories include “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (illustrated by Buck) and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (illustrated by César Pelizer).

You can find out more about these Insta Novels on the NYPL website, or head over to the library’s Instagram to try it out. Finally, spending hours scrolling through Instagram will be good for you!

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