Thanks to TikTok, more teens are reading for fun


Many bookstores now designate certain books as products that have gone “viral” on Booktok. Booktok’s popularity has caused some authors to market their books on the app in hopes of gaining popularity among the large teenage audience.

   The average high school student can probably tell you that the last time they read a book for fun, silly bandz were still a thing, skinny jeans were trendy, and it was the Percy Jackson heyday. Though there are the occasional denizens of Monte Vista’s library, the majority of students simply don’t read. But they do have TikTok, and that might be changing things.

     Coined “Booktok” by users, the niche on the popular social media platform revolves around all things books. Booktok has grown over the course of the pandemic, shedding the limelight on certain books that more and more are reading, especially teenagers who haven’t considered themselves “readers” since elementary school. 

     “Book tok encouraged me to finally put aside my so-called “hate” for reading and try it again,” said junior Judi Huang, the president of the Romance Book Club at Monte Vista. “To see so many individuals enjoying reading and books it made me think that maybe I was holding a grudge for nothing… I feel like it definitely reached out to many teens and convinced them to start reading again and from there the butterfly effect took the reins.”

     Some of the books that have gained popularity include Madeline Miller’s mythology retelling The Song of Achilles, the tragic They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and more. The niche has cultivated an online culture that discusses things like the love of particular tropes, such as “enemies to lovers” or the “fake dating” trope. 

     “Booktok has put me on so many amazing reads… I have to say that my favorite books are the Throne of Glass series,” Huang said.

     Many of these trending books aren’t even new releases: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which came out in 2017, has recently reemerged on the NYT (New York Times) Bestseller List as of October 2021. This resurgence in popularity can be attributed to TikTok.

     “When you can talk to your readers directly, that’s a big thing,” said Lisa Xavier, Monte Vista’s new librarian. “People want personal connections with authors. I think people expect that from social media now in a way that we might not have been in the past.”

     Booktok’s rising popularity may point to the future of marketing for fiction, especially in the YA (Young Adult) genre. V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’s popularity has been attributed by some to the fact that it gained fame and was “hyped up” on TikTok by many users. Chloe Gong, Gen-Z author of These Violent Delights, a 1920s Romeo and Juliet retelling, marketed her book on her TikTok account before it was released and became a NYT bestseller. 

     “These smart young authors know they have to offer that personal connection [with their audience] somehow and they’re not just going to rely on some 45 year old person in marketing to do their stuff for them, they really want to get out in front of it,” Xavier said.

     Sections in books and libraries now include stacks of books under banners reading things like “I saw it on TikTok ” or put stickers on books labeled “The TikTok sensation” as a method of advertising.

     “I have seen some of my favorite authors downloading TikTok and advertising their books in short clips, drawing readers in by describing their book and the best parts of the plot,” Huang said. “Honestly, TikTok has probably been a true marketing dream for most authors.”