Hooked on BookTok: The viral TikTok category is creating a stir among young readers


Photo by Danielle Hook

A table at the local Barnes & Noble features books found on BookTok. The popularity of the app is growing, especially among students.

Danielle Hook and Savannah Shotwell

Cloaked in darkness, junior Addison Unger sits in her room, the illumination of her phone lighting up her face. The clock ticks away as she scrolls through TikTok. Tiredness doesn’t seem to affect Unger, as she is hooked on every enticing book review. A trip to Barnes and Noble the next day is a must, she decides, as her mind finally drifts off to sleep. 

A new edition to the social media platform TikTok is getting more and more students interested in reading. This new subcategory, BookTok, has increased the spread of books and ideas, as well as connecting readers all over the world. The word BookTok started off as a hashtag and has turned into an influential place on the internet for authors to be recognized and for books to be reviewed. Students like Unger have started reading dozens of new books because of these videos, and are now using their platforms to share their love for reading with the rest of the TikTok community. 

“One of my favorite books from BookTok was ”Court of Mist and Fury” because it transported me away from reality,” Unger said. 

Unger found some of her favorite books on TikTok, while also giving her different genres to choose from. BookTok helped her fall back in love with reading by introducing her to books that she says drew her back into the world of literature. It has also given young readers book recommendations with relevant meanings and points of view, something sophomore Chloe Bass looks for in books. 

“One of my favorite books that I read because of BookTok is “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover,” Bass said. “This book has a really great meaning and it is so important to learn about the issues that occur within the story, especially from the point of view of someone experiencing them firsthand.”

These videos give young people an educational experience by providing them with books that touch on important subjects that are not usually discussed with teenagers, like sexuality or abuse. However, not everyone believes that it is necessarily a positive thing, like NHS librarian Lucy Misetic. 

“Sometimes I feel like more adult books are on BookTok and teens are asking for books like “Verity by Colleen Hoover, which we don’t have in the [school] library because it is more geared towards adult readers,” Misetic said. 

Misetic views some of the recommendations in these short videos as harmful because the audience consists of younger viewers, but Misetic notes that doesn’t take away from the fact that these videos have promoted reading to teenagers. 

“I can tell when a book is popular on BookTok because books that maybe haven’t circulated in a long time suddenly are being checked out,” Misetic said. “BookTok gets students interested in reading and definitely affects what students are picking and how books are circulating.”

English teacher Greg Richards sees how BookTok can be misleading. He believes encouraging young people to read is healthy, but BookTok as a whole can promote books in a biased way. 

“I think it’s good to encourage people to read. On the other hand, I think it’s easy to mislead people if you only take a 30 second video pointing out maybe the more sensational aspects of the book without talking about thematically how it is worthwhile,” Richards said.

Although Richards believes there are flaws to BookTok, he disagrees with the stigma that TikTok introduces students to books that are too mature for them. After many years of teaching, he notices the differences between his students and their reading habits. 

“It’s really difficult to say what young people should and should not be allowed to read [because] everybody is at a different level and stage of maturity,” Richards said. “Some are mature way beyond their years because of experiences they’ve had, good or bad. It’s a double-edged sword.”