BookTok revives students’ love for reading

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Samantha Galang

“BookTok,” a subsection of the popular social networking platform TikTok, leads to an increase in students’ interest in books and reading.

Nevya Patel

Prior to the pandemic, bibliophiles would walk into the library with the intention of strolling through the shelves in search of a book that would interest them. They could explore different genres and consult with librarians about a novel they cannot find.

However, immediately after March 2020, libraries and other institutions closed because of the risk of COVID-19, and book lovers had to resort to finding existing or creating new online communities to recommend their favorite and least favorite books, share reviews and join certain fandoms.

Although BookTok first appeared in 2019 when TikTok became more widely known, the online community did not pick up followers until soon after the pandemic. It came about from TikTok users who posted book-related content, and it offers readers the opportunity to connect with others who share the same, rare love for reading.

Any TikTok that shows even a slight connection to books or lists BookTok as a hashtag can be considered a part of BookTok. 

Some members of this platform include authors such as Colleen Hoover, Victoria Aveyard and Adam Silvera, who write contemporary romance, fantasy and LQTBQ+ fiction, respectively, and content creating-“BookTokers.” However, anyone who enjoys book-related videos and reading can join the community. 

A few Sunny Hills students have started using Booktok to find new books and to become part of a community that values reading.

“The recommendations are my favorite part, and they’re really helpful because I hate reading books and not liking them,” said senior Jasmine Lee, who started seeing more book-related TikToks on her For You page in August 2020. 

Lee said she discovered the bookish section on TikTok when she searched for the Red, White, and Royal Blue fandom on the app’s search engine. 

“I especially love recommendations from people who have similar viewpoints as me like @aymanbooks, @bookwormSarah and @Robert.reads,” Lee said. “It’s really funny to see how people share the same opinions as me on book characters and book tropes.”

While she does not post any videos on the platform, she enjoys the wide range of literature that BookTok exposes her to. 

“Some of my favorite recommendations are The Song of Achilles, The Secret History, It Happened One Summer and Red, White, and Royal Blue,” Lee said. “There’s something for everybody on BookTok if you read. There’s fantasy, contemporary romance, young adult, new adult, and people can share anything, too.”

Similar to Lee, junior Crystal Louis became a fan through her sister, another reader, while staying home during the pandemic.

“I love seeing all the cool art people make and the aesthetic board for certain characters in books,” said Louis, who enjoys the artistic side of the community. “[The] BookTok community is very inclusive.”

The platform’s videos also include character aesthetic boards, or groups of pictures that speak to a character’s aesthetic to encourage viewers to read a certain text based on its characters.  

Many fandoms for different reading material exist, and while Lee considers herself a part of the highly popular The Song of Achilles fandom on BookTok, Louis sides with the rare group of people who disliked it.

“Personally, I am not into Greek mythology, so that was part of the reason why I didn’t like it,” she said. “I also think it was very slow and boring, so I was not hooked throughout reading. But, I am sure, though, that people who love Greek mythology would really enjoy it.”

Although Lee and Louis already familiarized themselves on the platform, senior Dane Sprague strays away from TikTok. Nevertheless, he still appreciates that an online community exists for people who share his love for reading. 

“It’s cool, and I’m glad people are into reading books more than they used to,” Sprague said. “I think it sounds like a really amazing way for people to communicate about something they have a shared passion for.”

English teacher Greg Brown, who did not know about BookTok until a student informed him about the concept, also believes that the community is something everybody should be a part of.

“I think that any forum that encourages reading is a good one,” Brown said. “I wish I were young enough to enjoy something called TikTok and the things [people] do on there. Anything that promotes the love of literature and sharing ideas about it is [perfect].”