Signs are there. Some videos suggest “listening to audiobooks at 1.5x speed and skimming long passages of text”, while others show TBR piles (stacks of books that have yet To Be Read) taller than most people’s whole collections. But Murphy is quick to defend BookTok against criticism: “I urge people to spend more time on BookTok and look for what they’re genuinely interested in, not what they want to bash.”
Self-proclaimed “read for fun” Zoe Jane loves BookTok despite reading “only a chapter or two a week”.
“Some people might read 10 books a month but I feel just as much a part of their community,” she says. There is a neatly organised bookcase behind her, with hardbacks on one side and paperbacks on the other. “I haven’t read most of them,” she says. “They’re TikTok recommendations – I can’t wait to chat about them with others!”
Another unexpected benefit of this renewed enthusiasm for reading is that it’s providing a boost for bookshops.
“So many books become bestsellers after going viral,” say Leah Caffrey and Alice Treadwell, from House of Books & Friends, an independent bookstore in Manchester. “You can see when certain backlist titles are having a moment online and many trending books have stayed consistent in our weekly sales; sales which were certainly boosted by TikTok for some titles.
“BookTok has encouraged younger generations to read more and find an online community to share their enthusiasm with. This can only be a good thing. It is creating generations of future readers.”
Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a member of The Big Issue’s Breakthrough programme.
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