TikTok Revives the Reading Scene

With bookworms, authors, and publishers taking to TikTok to recommend, review, and rate books, a few titles have been making waves across the city and onto our bookshelves.


Chanel Richardson

Readers can see the #BookTook section as soon as they enter at their local Barnes & Noble bookstore, and they can choose their next top pick from the popular selections.

What if you fell in love with a British prince, as the son of America’s first female president? Or even better, what if you were an exiled prince yourself, following Achilles into war? As fascinating as these scenarios may be, it might be impossible to put yourself in those shoes unless you were reading Red White & Royal Blue, or The Song of Achilles.

These are just two of the titles that have recently been making waves, with apps such as Goodreads and Bookly keeping them as top recommendations for 2021 reading lists. 

These books continue to amass a cult following thanks to TikTok, and more specifically, ‘BookTok.’ BookTok is a specific section of TikTok dedicated to reviewing books, cracking jokes, and finding your next read.

Recommendations cover all genres ranging from young adult fiction to historical fantasy, so there’s something for everyone. The videos can be found under #booktok or a tag for a specific book title.

Over the last few months, BookTok has begun to pick up traction, with creators such as @aymansbooks, @moongirlreads, and @kendrareads gaining followers and likes for their thoughts on popular reads. These creators, amongst more, have been tirelessly working since April 2019 in order to attract authors, publishers and readers alike.

The wide range of recommendations allows new and old readers to step out of their comfort zone, getting exposed  to books they would have never heard of or even thought about reading before.

“I tend to stay more with mystery and romance books for my reading choices, but if something is being recommended a lot, then I’ll try it out. Fantasy was just something that I never looked for before,” said Kelly Luce ’22. “Shadow and Bone was a really interesting read though, with so many different characters and intriguing personalities. It never gets boring, and  it isn’t hard to follow along. It also has multiple points of view, which I love, because I can walk through what different characters are thinking,” Luce continued. 

Without BookTok, Luce and other readers alike would have never come across what are now some of their favorite titles.

On top of the exposure that BookTok provides to new genres, it also serves as a safe haven for readers from underrepresented communities. 

“Hearing the main characters have names like me and love interests that I could see myself in was such a nice feeling and one that doesn’t happen super often,” said Aissata Barry ’22.

Many authors pride themselves on providing readers with books that spotlight their readers’ communities. They do not simply mention a character, but they also break down what their lives entail — and not only in tragic stories, as many authors tend to do with minorities in fiction, an unfortunate trend that needs to change. 

This is why so many readers appreciate Casey McQuiston’s portrayal of Alex and Prince Henry’s relationship in Red, White and Royal Blue. McQuiston is openly bisexual and queer herself, so she is able to write about more authentic and nuanced LGBTQ+ relationships. “It was one of my favorite romances; the two characters felt really good for each other,” said Acadia Boost ’24.

As much as readers love the opportunity for representation within the books found on BookTok, some recommendations still do not live up to the hype that surrounds them.

“My taste in reading has been shifting recently from Young Adult dystopian to horror, so it didn’t really leave a memorable impression on me,” said Emma Singer ’22.

As readers’ interests shift and grow, authors can travel along that journey with them.

“I think McQuiston improved in terms of writing style from Red, White and Royal Blue to One Last Stop. The background characters were much more developed, and the switch in narration type from a pessimistic tone to a lighter, more funny, and interesting one made the reading experience a lot better. Therefore, I highly recommended McQuiston’s works. I am looking forward to McQuiston’s next book, I Kissed Shara Wheeler,said Acadia Boost ’24.

With the help of  BookTok, word can be spread about new authors and recommendations can be cultivated for anyone and everyone. With each new title, readers far and wide can find a new haven, or at least a new recommendation from BookTok.

“Hearing the main characters have names like me and love interests that I could see myself in was such a nice feeling and one that doesn’t happen super often,” said Aissata Barry ’22.