Have you heard the news? Reading is cool again, just ask one of TikTok’s biggest trends

By Siobhan Elizabeth Ball

Elm Staff Writer

In the digital age, no one is immune from falling down into the compulsive, addictive hole of social media.

While social media is a vacuum for negativity, there are emerging sub-communities on social media aimed at spreading a more positive message.

During the initial COVID-19 quarantine, one sub-community in particular grew exponentially —BookTok. By bringing back people’s childhood love of reading, BookTok helped millions of social media users re-connect with their love for the written word, a passion that often fall on the back burner amidst the chaos of adult life.

The movement is changing the landscape of literature beyond recognition.

From videos of aesthetically pleasing bookshelves to color-coded flat lay photos, this not-so-small corner of the internet has hot gossip on what to read and what not to read.

Viral clips on BookTook include “books discussing millennial loneliness” by @marcerreads, “novels set in New York City” by @dakotabossard, and “read these books if you’re in your 20s and have no idea what you’re doing with your life” by @apaperbacklife.

A simple, 30-second video has the power to launch a book from unknown status to the top of the bestseller lists. In the reading community, the phrase “BookTok made me read it” is a common motivator to pick up a new title.

Bookstores and publishers scrambled to capitalize off of the newfound popularity of reading. By creating their own TikTok accounts and dedicating in-store displays to books recommended on the platform, companies draw in new customers that would not have otherwise been interested in reading.

According to Barnes and Nobles, some of the most popular books featured on BookTok include:

“It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover

Hoover’s best-selling book follows the story of college graduate, Lily, and her new relationship with Ryle, which is threatened by the reappearance of Lily’s first love. The novel is a deeply personal tale of one woman’s struggle to break the cycle of abuse.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In Reid’s historical fiction novel, reclusive and aging actress Evelyn Hugo enlists the service of an unknown journalist to finally reveal the truth about her scandalous life working in film. An entrancing tale centred around the Golden Age of Hollywood, this romance is sure to speak to fans of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh

Written by one of the most celebrated new literary voices, this famous novels follows a woman in New York City looking to self-medicate in order to embark on an extended hibernation. The story is love letter to its suffering readers, allowing them to see the irony in life and encouraging them to take risks, even when living feels like an impossible task.

On BookTok, readers new and old are welcome, demonstrating that social media can be a positive environment if used appropriately. As the community continues to grow, this faction proves the myth that young people do not read wrong.

According to WeAreIowa, there are more than 82.4 million views under the hashtag “BookTok” as of Oct. 2022. The popularity of this corner of the internet proves that print is not dead.

Photo by Siobhan Elizabeth Ball

Photo caption: According to Bloomberg, the massive popularity of BookTok caused a shift in Barnes and Nobles’ business model, with the bookstore’s profits rising exponentially due to select trending titles.

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