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BookTokers: Get To Know 6 Influencers And Their Perspectives About This Digital Way Of Literature Promotion

If you’re connected to the internet, you have probably already seen how big TikTok is between the heavy-users of social media. The app, created by ByteDance in China, is known for making it possible to upload videos up to 60 seconds about any content we want. One is the literary, called BookTok. In it, users - and also bookaholics - can produce any content about literature, like recommendations, analyzes and even discussions that surround the literary world. This side of TikTok is getting bigger and bigger and it is also increasing the literary public around the globe. We talked to 6 BookTokers to know their opinions about this influence and how to start reading more. Check it out! 

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Renata Moura (@reesenhas)

Renata Moura is a 17-year-old girl from Minas Gerais who started creating content in September, 2020. Owner of an Instagram account with the same name, Renata believes BookTok does a great job influencing people to read more, “because, like it or not, TikTok doesn't send your videos just to the BookTok side. So, a lot of people who never read end up seeing the videos and being like ‘my God, this book seems to be cool’ and then start reading. It is very fun to encourage people to read."

About that, Renata thinks it is very important to constantly encourage young people to read, “mainly because reading will always help the person to form a critical sense”, once it is a thing that unfortunately isn’t much encouraged in Brazil.

For those who want to read more, she assures that the best way is to be inspired by tv shows. “If you like a certain show, then you should look for books that are the same genre”, she adds. Asked to recommend a book, Renata said “It Ends With Us”, by Colleen Hoover: “it is a wonderful book. It portrays domestic violence and I had some doubts, because we never look at the victim's eyes; we like to judge people without understanding them. It was a very important book for me, and I think it would be very important for some people as well”. Nevertheless, if you like a lighter book, she recommends the “Shatter Me” series, by Tahereh Mafi.

Azanta Thakur (@azantareads)

Azanta Thakur has been a content creator since January, 2021. From Florida, the 22-year-old girl started on BookTok as a hobby to share her love for books and found a very good place to do so. In fact, she also believes this is a great way to influence people to read more. “I think the TikTok video format of 60-second snapshots provides an easy way for people to understand if a book is for them or not while also capturing things written reviews cannot, like emotion through facial expressions and verbal intonations”, she adds.

Besides that, encouraging people to read is something that is recommended to be done from a young age, because, in addition to helping with education, it also reflects in the feeling of identity. “No matter who you are, there’s a book out there that will speak to you and you will see yourself in and it’s so important to impart that knowledge on young people”, Azanta states.

However, if you want to start reading right now it is also very possible to do so! “Start slow, start small”, Azanta says. “Don't be afraid to experiment and dip your toes into different genres”, she adds. Unfortunately, in the BookTok and Bookstagram world there is a lot of competition, which can discourage people. “There is no rush or competition to finish a ton of books! Whether you read 1 or 100 books a year, you're still reading and you're doing it at your own pace”, Azanta assures.

Also asked to recommend a book, her choice was “An Ember in The Ashes”, a series written by Sabaa Tahir, that talks about two teenage kids, Laia and Elias, who are trying to beat the oppressive system they live in.

Bárbara Polo (@baapolo)

Bárbara Polo,18 and from São Paulo. She started on TikTok about a year ago and now she has over 300 thousand people following her page. She also started as a hobby and believes that the platform does influence people to read more. “I always receive on social media some ‘thank you so much for introducing me to the literary world’ messages and I am so grateful for being introduced to the literary world that it makes me happy that I do it too with others”, she says.

Bárbara thinks that books are not only good for education but also for inner, intimate, pleasure and the feeling of comfort: “reading does very well for you. It is part of my life, it’s a routine that, if I don’t read, I miss it. It completely changed my life”.  About that, she, who started reading at the age of 12, remarks that started it as an escape from reality but now it is part of her soul she will never let go, since it does so well for her even after some years and maturations.

For the newbie readers, Bárbara guarantees that easy books are the best way to start, and never reading as an obligation is also very important. “Read books for beginners, for ages 12 and 14, for example, like Paula Pimenta’s stories or the Percy Jackson series. Don’t read for an obligation. If you want to set an hour, set an hour, but stop it when it’s boring. Don’t force it”, she adds.

As the book recommendation, she chose two: “Lorien Legacies”, from Pittacus Lore, and “Throne of Glass”, by Sarah J. Maas. Bárbara also says that she is just like us, BookTok enthusiasts, who save tons of recommendation videos. “After I joined TikTok, the amount of books I added to my list is immense. The best books I’ve ever read were because of TikTok”, she finishes.

Layla Fernanda (@booksbyla)

Layla Fernanda is a 19-year-old girl from Pernambuco who started creating content on TikTok also about a year ago. She started the page as a hobby, uploaded a lot of videos and forgot about them. A month later, she decided to open the app again and found out that everybody was loving her videos! She says that the most fun part of doing it all is being able to share the love for books with other people: “Knowing that there are people who love [books] as much as I do gives me so much joy."

Layla believes that the platform influences a lot the reading process, since the videos instigate you to read when you need some inspiration. Besides that, she also says that reading for her is way more than a hobby, helping her through very difficult times, and we should always encourage people to do it too. “Books help me to see there is a solution for things in life, it makes me be able to believe in a better future. Our society lacks encouragement for young people. Always slaughtering, always very oppressive, always ‘do this, do that’ and ‘don't do this, don't do that’ and never showing that people can do what they want and they will be able to do it. I think that in books we find the courage we cannot find in the real world”, she adds.

For her, the best way to dive into this world is choosing a genre you like. When you read some mystery, for example, and you feel like it isn’t going anywhere, then just drop it and try to find another genre for you. “Look for a genre you like and that makes your heart flutter”, she emphasizes.

Exemplifying how books are a very important part of her life, Layla recommends “Throne of Glass”, by Sarah J. Maas. “There are 8 books, it is a series that really changed my life, honestly. I was at my worst and reading this book helped me a lot - so much so that I tattooed the quote ‘I will not be afraid’”, she finishes.

Farah Abdulkadir (@farahxreads)

Farah is a 20-year-old girl from Minnesota who started creating content on TikTok in November, 2020. Bookworm, Farah thinks BookTok is a great place to talk about her love about books and still meet new people. “I've been reading books since I was in 4th grade, so it was kind of a hobby back then but I didn’t really have anyone to talk about it until I found BookTok”, she says. Actually, she algo agrees that the platform can really influence people to read more, once the videos and recommendations stimulate curiosity. “Ever since I got on TikTok, every single week I’m reading a book, which is kind of interesting because that never happened to me in life”, she adds.

Besides that, Farah believes that encouraging people to read is something very important to do, since, according to her, reading keeps you an open-minded person. “You kind of see the world in a different way. You can understand why a person is the way that they are. And you can see people differently. When you are reading a book, you meet so many characters and at first you might not like them but when you get to learn their story and who they are like you see them differently, you give them another chance”, she explains.

However, if you haven’t acquired the reading habit, Farah guarantees the best way to do so is “finding a book that you like”. Just like Layla, she believes that if you’re reading something you aren’t liking then it’s best to just leave it and try something new. In fact, not liking books is something perfectly fine, because everybody has their own taste and no one is obligated to like the same books. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you should talk bad things about the book to everybody and ruin their experiences. And Farah thinks so too: “I’ve realized that everybody has their own taste, and you shouldn’t give negative points just because you didn’t like it. Instead of talking negatively about a book you didn’t like, I think you should put your energy into talking about a book that you’ve enjoyed."

Asked to recommend a story, Farah chose “The Atlas Six”, by Olivie Blake. “It's by this independent author and it's such an amazing book. If you like dark academia, academic rivals, secret societies, it’s that perfect book for you”, she concludes.

Jacky Monzon (@jackyreads)

Jacky Monzon, 18, lives in California. She started on BookTok in September, 2020 due to the free time she had during the pandemic and the willingness to join this amazing community. In her opinion, this side of TikTok is also very good at making people add tons of books on their to-be-read lists: “from the creators I've seen on BookTok, they really know how to convince you to read a book. Whether it’s an aesthetic video where they give you a visual outlook on the book or even just a book review. They even convinced me to get back into reading after so many years of not reading."

Moreover, the reading world is something very outstanding and that should be discovered by everybody! Thus, it is always very important to encourage people from all ages to read and join this crazy universe. “There’s so much out there to experience in books. I wish someone would’ve encouraged me to read at a younger age. I think through reading, younger generations can learn a lot”, Jacky adds.

She also thinks that the most important thing when deciding to start creating a reading habit is being receptive for everything that comes your way. “Keep an open mind”, she emphasizes, “you might not love every book and that’s okay, just explore more genres and options!” Lastly, for a book recommendation she gave “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”, by V.E. Schwab, a very popular story on BookTok. “I will always recommend it. That book was beautiful”, she finishes.

Finally, reading is something that can easily change your life completely - I know it changed mine. And the things you can learn and experience while living someone else’s life and their own experiences and fears is also very important for our own growth. If you want to give it a try, BookTok is the perfect place for you to join the beautiful community of bookaholics, I promise it will end up feeling like home!

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The article above was edited by Lívia Carvalho.

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Leticia Lopes

Casper Libero '23

a bookaholic journalism student, feminist and tv show enthusiast.
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