The revival of reading: How “BookTok” impacts the reading habits of teens

According to, less than 20 percent of teenagers say they read for fun, while 80 percent report using social media in their free time instead. But what if social media could increase the probability of teens picking up a new book? 

Since its launch in 2018, TikTok has been one of the most popular social media apps for teens, and its influence has only grown over time. Now more than ever, TikTok has proven that it is much more than just a dancing app, and it appeals to many different groups of people. 

One of the most unique aspects that has arisen from TikTok is “BookTok,” a collection of videos under this hashtag which have recently gained popularity. These videos allow readers to share their opinions on popular books along with additional book recommendations. “BookTok” videos can range anywhere from suggesting books based on popular songs, to recommending the best books to get people inspired to read again.  

Some of the most impactful outcomes of this aspect of TikTok are how it gets teens excited about reading. Through its algorithm of offering content based on previously liked videos, TikTok is recommending books that will connect with the subjects that teens are interested in. 

In school, teens often feel forced to read books they don’t believe are relevant to current issues, and while these books are certainly important, they usually do not inspire kids to read outside of school. However, “BookTok” books have proven to be successful in convincing kids to pick a book off the shelf that they wouldn’t have otherwise read. 

One of the most popular examples is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, rated 4.5/5 on Goodreads. It was published in 2017, and it follows the life of a fictional world famous actress, Evelyn Hugo. It touches on themes such as the dehumanization of celebrities, discrimination based on sexual orientation and the sacrifices necessary to meet one’s goals. The book’s LGBTQ+ representation is especially important, as it is unfortunately still rare to find many books that share these stories. 

Another “BookTok” book that focuses on difficult but important themes is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, rated 4.4/5 on Goodreads, which includes brutally honest depictions of domestic violence. Books with challenging themes are especially important as they illustrate real life issues and offer new perspectives about difficult topics. 

WHS junior Olivia Mazzola said, “I think everyone should read this book because there is such a stigma around domestic violence victims feeling compelled and manipulated to stay in their situation.” She also added how she “found [It Ends With Us] in a section at Barnes and Noble called ‘As Seen on BookTok.”’

Barnes and Noble’s response to “BookTok” shows how its popularity has developed over time, as this has become a strategy to help sell books to teen audiences. By using a popular form of social media such as TikTok as a method to catch the eye of teens, bookstores are showing just how far “BookTok” has expanded. 

Even though social media’s impact on kids often has a negative connotation, there are many hidden benefits that illustrate the positive effects of such a widespread app. While many teens claim they would pick up their phone rather than a book, “BookTok” shows how it is now possible to do both.