Tiktok’s Book Review Community Reawakens the Public’s Urge to Read
The beginning of the year 2020 brought many things with it. Disease, discrimination, and distrust were but some of the hallmarks of that year, leaving people feeling alone, scared and divided. Rather than bringing us together, 2020 seemingly only succeeded in tearing us further apart. However, there is one thing that 2020 brought to the world: a reawakened desire to read. The act of reading books has only surged after the lockdown was instated. People are beginning to delve into the novels they left untouched on their shelves in order to combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“My confidence in the future of literature consists in the knowledge that there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it.”Excerpt from Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium
Literature connects us together in ways that no other medium can. When reading a novel, we are choosing to look outside ourselves and be absorbed into a new world to explore. When two people read a novel, their perspectives of it can vastly differ, but the two remain connected by a singular narrative. Talking about a book in detail gives us a sense of shared experience between readers, having gone through the same events, the same plotlines. A passion for reading has the capacity to place us in the shoes of various different people through the lens of a novel.
However, many people face a problem with this new desire to read, and that’s where to start. The problem with this excess availability of novels is that it’s often difficult to know where to start. Although we are living in an age where reading isn’t as common as it used to be, ironically, it’s also an age where reading is more accessible than ever before. E-books, audiobooks, online bookstores: it’s simpler and more straightforward than ever to get a hold of any book, no matter where it was printed or how niche the genre may be. We find ourselves wading through thousands upon thousands of texts, desperately searching for one to catch our eye that we might be able to fully enjoy. And with a new list of bestsellers popping up seemingly every week, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of novels at our disposal. If this is a problem that you have, your best friend (surprisingly) might be social media.
The Readers and Writers of TikTok
Although the internet and social media haven’t done our attention spans any favors, the ability to learn about new books of all genres and up-and-coming authors is easier than ever. Book review blogs and profiles allow the reader to get some much-needed insight on what books are popular, and more importantly, what books are worth the reader’s time and money. One of the most surprising places these reviews have popped up is on TikTok. The #booktok has been making the rounds on TikTok for a while, having only begun to gain more traction in early spring of 2020. The people there have taken their love of reading and given it a platform where they can fully express it to the world, as well as offer people advice about what novels they should add to their reading list.
Booktok mostly focuses on YA novels, and they’ll often show their support for lesser-known authors or authors with a more limited portfolio. This not only allows for people to learn about these new novels, but it also opens up the avenue for less-represented writers to get their books out into the spotlight, allowing more marginalized people to find their place in the literary sphere. You’ll probably be happy to know that many of the books reviewed in Booktok have to do with stories involving people of color, members of the LGBTQ spectrum, and people belonging to more marginalized cultures.
The inclusion of these groups within literature is a huge step for the literary world. There have always been criticisms about what we might consider literature, and how it’s often strongly weighted towards the majority. You’re very unlikely to find minority groups being positively represented in the classics, and even today, novels are far less likely to include POC or LGBTQ main characters. Booktok is opening up a new avenue for those few novels to be shown to the world, diversifying the literary genre in the modern-day.
The success of Booktok hasn’t gone unnoticed by the professionals in the literary sphere either. Many publishers have caught onto influence this growing platform has and how it can be used to entice potential readers and keep tabs on up-and-coming authors alike. Publishing companies such as Penguin Random House, Wednesday Books, and Epic Reads have made accounts of their own to capitalize on the traction the platform is getting. These accounts not only allow readers to learn about new bestsellers but make them aware of some of the classics that have been on their radar.
But most importantly, the people on Booktok have found a sense of community that has been absent for the past two years. The atmosphere of the platform is one of the friendliest you’ll probably find on the internet, which is part of the appeal for most people who frequent it.
“We Zoom every week, give each other advice and always support each other’s content. There honestly isn’t a single person I’ve interacted with in the TikTok book community who hasn’t been completely welcoming and friendly.”Brittany, aka @whatbritreads
Many people have found a shared love of literature, reading, and writing through the platform, and some have even developed real friendships in real life through that connection. It’s not just a place where people can learn about the latest bestsellers or the newest authors, it’s a place where hundreds of people can find their place in the shared experience of reading and discussing a novel.
The need for literature is still strong even in today’s society, and it will probably continue to be for a long time. Now more than ever in our modern history, people are turning to books not only for comfort but also for a sense of community. The internet hasn’t snuffed out the love of reading for many of us and has instead given us a new medium to experience it. So if you’re looking for the latest YA novels to dip into, or you simply want to find a community to read and connect with, then Booktok may be just what you need.
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