The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Yes, this week is all about BookTok. It’s a community that should feel like home to me because I’ve dedicated hours upon hours to literature.
It all began when I was in preschool. My teachers would read books aloud to us, displaying all of the pictures to the class. They traced their voices through each letter and syllable to create words. Immediately, I was enthralled. Jealous, even. Impatience grew, building up over time before completely boiling over. I couldn’t handle it any longer and exasperatedly taught myself how to read.
I took my copy of Eloise, sounded out the letters that I knew, and confirmed with my mother that I was making the right shapes and noises with my mouth to associate with each syllable. Once Eloise was under my belt, I was unstoppable. It wasn’t long before I was eight years old and listening intently for my mother’s footsteps to fade into the back of the house, signaling to me that she had gone to bed, which gave me the green light to pull out whichever installment of Harry Potter I was re-reading at the time and lose myself into the wee hours of the night.
It didn’t stop there. Oh, no. The summer after I turned sixteen and earned my driver’s license, I drove my little red VW Beetle to my town’s public library every Monday. I would peruse the shelves, inspecting every spine and summary housed in the Young Adult section in order to select seven or eight books to go home with me. There I read them all over the week and did it all again on the next Monday.
Now, I am a literature major thinking about a career in publishing. This is why I am so deeply offended that the TikTok algorithm doesn’t allow me to penetrate the bubble that is BookTok. Try as I might, I can’t get in. No matter how many scrolls through the BookTok tag I invest, I still receive TikToks about what it is like to be on BookTok on my “For You” page rather than actual BookTok videos.
This could just be a silly quirk of the algorithm. If I was a tad more paranoid, I might think this is the universe telling me something. I am choosing, however, to believe that maybe the TikTok algorithm has decided that I am good at finding books to read and don’t need any help in that department. Maybe.
In truth, I feel like that vine of the old woman banging on the bus door and singing with desperation to be allowed in. Every TikTok I see that talks about BookTok is a stab in the back. I can see through the windows of the bus door; I watch as all of you BookTokkers have fun discussing novels and literature. But at the end of the day, I am on the outside looking in. I am an old woman singing an inane vibrato as I slam my hand against the glass as the driver (the algorithm) stares blankly, refusing to budge, and a voyeur (this article) records me.
I am being gate-kept from my own community.