Media & Entertainment

BookTok: Chicken Soup for Your Bookworm Soul

Booktok, TikTok, Book

2020 has marked itself as a year of drastic changes and adaptation. During several lockdowns, people found different ways to cope with loneliness, wherein the majority relied on social media in hopes of dealing with the stress of the global pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, just when the first lockdown measures were introduced worldwide, the TikTok app has received a total of 315 million downloads which is the highest amount of quarterly downloads since the launch of the app in September 2017.

Throughout 2020, TikTok users watched around 1 billion videos per day (and I am responsible for half of that). I discovered TikTok in 2019 through my friend, but quickly deleted it. At that time waiting for the algorithm to sort the videos according to my preferences seemed like too much work. However, with the sudden emergence of the virus, the opportunity presented itself and I gave TikTok another chance. Just when I was about to give up on the app again and forever, I stumbled upon a specific TikTok niche, which will get me out of long-term reading slump and subsequently make me spend a small fortune buying an infinite number of online and paper books.

A Digital Library…

Such stories are a sure way to find comfort and escape reality.

BookTok is a TikTok ‘alcove’ where like-minded bookworms share their passion for literature and determinately break stereotypes of silent, boring, and reserved readers. Here teenagers and adults create quality content about various different books and literary characters. Mostly, the BookTok community tends to make emphasis on young adult fantasy and adult fantasy books, like Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses cycles by Sara J. Maas and From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Currently, these are the most prominent stories on BookTok, and rightfully so. These books have won the hearts of millions with stories about honorable Fae-warriors and strong female protagonists. From personal experience, I can safely say that in times of hardship, like 2020 turned out to be, such stories are a sure way to find comfort and escape reality.

Although adult and young adult fantasy books are the most prevalent ones on BookTok, the platform is not solely limited to those genres. There are numerous TikTok accounts dedicated to the work of distinguished Jane Austen and other classic writers, many ‘booktokers’ promote dystopian teen novels, like Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins’ well-acclaimed The Hunger Games series. The fans of remarkable Harry Potter books, specifically one controversial character, Draco Malfoy, have established their own TikTok niche under the name DracoTok.

… and So Much More

BookTok goes a step beyond simple book recommendations. The platform provides people with a nonjudgmental atmosphere for their art and interests. The imagination and talent of some of the BookTok creators have gone so far as to professionally embed themselves into the movie and create new heart-breaking stories with our favorite characters.

Claudia Alende is known for her flawless Harry Potter videos where she plays the main character and one point of a love triangle with Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. The young female creator receives millions of views and likes and thousands of admiring comments on her hard work.

There are now many BookTok creators who have hundreds of thousands of subscribers for their varied content starting from TBR (‘to be read’) lists and ending with funny or tear-jerking scenes from the books adapted for the camera.

Some record and post the process of fanarts creation where they give faces and forms to our beloved characters helping eager readers to immerse eager readers into fictional universes. Because of the advent of BookTok, many young people were able to carry their love for favorite stories into real life by establishing merchandise businesses and promoting it on TikTok.

The platform also provides book lovers with the opportunity to share their work inspired by favorite stories with like-minded readers. Thus, beginner artist ARCANA gained an appreciative audience for her song The Dark inspired by the love story of Feyre and Rhysand, the main characters of Sara J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses book series. The song makes first-time readers eager to delve into the story and evokes nostalgic feelings from those who have already finished the beautiful journey.

Like any other sensible creators, BookTokers are striving to raise awareness by promoting and recommending books centered around racial, cultural, and sexual minorities. Thus, books like Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn frequently appear in book trendsetters’ recommendation videos and on top of many people’s TBR lists.

A Heartfelt Message About BookTok

Despite the given name, BookTok is a welcoming platform for everyone: full-time and amateur readers, simple visitors who accidentally ended up on the bookish side of TikTok,  and beginner writers. Going there, you may not fear judgment and mockery of personal interests as the community itself is pretty diverse in preferences. Even for a few hours a day, BookTok helped me forget about the fear and stress that 2020 brought about. With this I hope to have introduced you to your new potential place of comfort .

 

Cover: Laura Chouette

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Gaukhar Orkashbayeva

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