You may not expect this: in a TikTok video with 4M likes, a girl asks people in a bookstore what book they wish they could read again for the very first time.
And then in another video with 35.4M views, a girl tries to connect with a stranger on a bus because they’re reading the same book.
These videos are a part of BookTok, the popular TikTok community where users—mostly young females—promote reading. It has had a huge impact on the popularity of reading among members of Gen Z and also, among Venice students.
Senior Nina Brown, member of Venice’s Book Club, has been able to see BookTok’s influence on the reading community herself.
“If you walk into any Barnes & Noble nowadays there’s a table that says BookTok,” she said.
She mentioned authors like Colleen Hoover and Sarah J. Maas, whose books climbed the New York Times Bestseller List years after their release.
BookTok is getting thousands of young people to pick up a book in their free time, something teachers have often failed to do. So, what’s so special about this community?
For one, BookTok gives young readers a place where they don’t feel alone.
English teacher AnneMarie Di Padova doesn’t have TikTok herself, but she recognizes the exceptionality in BookTok.
“It’s about building community and knowing that other people feel the way that you do,” said Di Padova.
BookTok users are not afraid to authentically share their emotions regarding books, something that attracts other members of Gen Z.
“It’s not about reading something that you think you should be reading but something that you actually enjoy,” she said.
Di Padova believes recommendations from BookTok can be useful in the classroom, giving students a chance to develop a relationship with books that’s organic.
But the community isn’t perfect. At times, the books that become the most popular on BookTok are not very diverse in their characters, Brown said. Novels like It Ends With Us and People We Meet on Vacation blew up on TikTok, but feature mostly heterosexual, white characters.
However, Brown notes that on TikTok there is a push for more representation in literature. She says there are users who make an effort to “recommend books that have leads who are people of color or people of the LGBTQ+ community.”
By incorporating both the authenticity of Gen Z and the fast-paced accessibility of TikTok, BookTok is a unique community where young people’s love for reading can thrive.
As Brown said, “It’s a good community for people who are starting to go into reading.”