BookTok: Has Reading Become Cool?

The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the writer individually and do not represent The Hysteria Collective as a whole.

Has reading finally become cool and is it all thanks to TikTok? Over the first lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, many people began to take up new hobbies to fill their copious amount of time spent at home. Whether it was learning a new language, baking something new, or trying at-home workouts, most people picked a poison to hyperfixate on for the next few months. For some, their chosen hobby was to finally tackle that huge TBR (short for To Be Read) pile that sat in the corner of their room collecting dust. Whilst the unread book pile by itself makes its owner look infinitely more well educated, actually being able to have the bragging rights of having gotten through ‘A Little Life’ without it completely disintegrating from one’s tears or finishing ‘Crime and Punishment’ without DNF’ing (Did Not Finish!) it is something else. 

Due to the lack of social interaction and inability to share your bookish thoughts on the latest releases in person at book clubs, multitudes turned to social media to earn the gratification of sharing something they love with a global audience. The pandemic gave those who had always dreamt of creating a community surrounding their love of reading a little push to dive into the deep end. In the past, it has been incredibly difficult to convince your friends to pick up your favourite novel if they aren’t already interested in reading as a hobby. The genius of combining popular music with books that give off the same atmosphere is a faultless way of getting young people interested in literature. 

TikTok has helped to create what has been dubbed the most wholesome corner of the internet. BookTok has amassed a gigantic following of readers of all ages and genre preferences. The most popular BookTok videos are short, snappy, and use enticing one-liners matched with aesthetically pleasing images to engage their audience. As soon as a book is trending on BookTok or is engulfed in controversial discourse, followers run to buy it in order to add their own opinions to the mix. The multitude of recommendations based on everyone’s favourite popular books has made the TBRs of frequent TikTok users limitless. 

The ridiculous speed at which culture moves has made these short but cinematic videos essential to the promotion of new books. Publishers have quickly caught onto the benefits of using popular BookTokers to promote the next big YA fantasy or romance novel. The loyal followers of BookTokers will automatically purchase any book that has been recommended by their favourite accounts considering they most likely have a similar taste in books. Even casual users of the app are often drawn into the worlds that BookTokers are able to build around these texts. The way that BookTok has been able to capture the attention of a wide range of audiences has yet to be achieved by publishing houses. Whilst this does open the community up to the evils of capitalism, I can’t see BookTok becoming completely consumed by promotions and partnerships with companies that creators do not genuinely like just yet. 

It’s safe to say that TikTok has helped to join new and old readers alike in a discourse surrounding literature. It has moulded a welcoming community that is giving everyone, regardless of how many classics they have read, a place to share their thoughts about new releases and to participate in what can be seen as the biggest book club in existence.

Image credit to Florencia Viadana.

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