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How BookTok Breathed a Second Life Into Reading

They say a reader lives a thousand lives, and Tik Tok has certainly breathed a second life into reading, gaining newfound popularity for the pastime that for most, until recently, had been outshone by the offerings of screens like Netflix, Instagram, and even Tik Tok itself. 

#BookTok is dedicated to all poets and booklovers and has been one of the newest trending sides of Tik Tok, attracting over 18.8 billion views. #BookTok unites readers of various genres and backgrounds creating an open forum for the discussion of all literary matters. It includes voices from a new class of influencers: Bookish Content Creators. These creators share their most recent reads and some even form online book clubs fostering connections between bibliophiles around the world. 

With the COVID-19 quarantine, many individuals turned to reading to fill the void of time that came with isolation. Whether your last read had been Junie B. Jones in middle school or Romeo and Juliet in high school, quarantine provided an indeterminable amount of time in which many sought to fill with the adventures offered by books. Popular bookish content creator Ayman Chaudhary, who has over 391K followers and 25M likes, shares “Reading books allows me to take a break from my reality and live vicariously through fictional characters as they experience remarkable things.” Living vicariously was the only viable option for quarantine, but now as the world slowly begins to return to a semblance of normal, reading and demand for bookish content has remained steady.

Streaming services have taken cue from BookTok and after noticing the attention it garnered over time, several series popularized by BookTok are currently being developed for the screen. The New York Times Bestsellers “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas and “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard have both begun the process of adaption into television shows by Hulu and Peacock. While each of these series possessed strong fanbases prior to BookTok, the bases have increasingly grown. Authors, like streaming services, have taken a page out of Tik Tok’s book and turned to the social media platform to promote their work. 

Previously mentioned author Victoria Aveyard took her talents to Tik Tok, gaining over 220K followers and 5.5M likes, where she reacts to fans’ videos, drops clues about her future work, and gives an insider look to a day in her life as an author. The latter is arguably an even more significant development in BookTok as allowing readers a look into an author’s lifestyle makes them seemingly more accessible and furthers their connections with readers. This accessibility has encouraged the sharing of work amongst other budding writers as they embark upon their own literary journey and share their stories. In this, BookTok has evolved not only to be a place to find your next best read, but a source of development for the craft of writing itself. 

For many, reading became a bright spot during the monotony of quarantine. It was a way to escape into a different reality – one that was full of excitement, thrill, or whatever other emotion you were lacking while in isolation. Now, there are unending opportunities to hear from different voices and learn of new books every time you open the app to BookTok. It has flourished into a collective source of inspiration and togetherness, creating a forum for readers like no other where a new generation of readers can expand their minds and virtual community. Though these unprecedented times have shown us that nothing is guaranteed, BookTok has reminded young adults that one thing is for certain: there are endless worlds at their fingertips just waiting to be explored as soon as they crack open a book. 

Madison Glatz

Alabama '23

Madison is a junior at the University of Alabama studying Psychology, Spanish, and International Studies. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Madison hopes to pursue a career in the field of legal psychology. When not studying or writing, she is most likely trying to make a dent in her To Be Read pile, running, or eating Trader Joe's pasta.
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