Special Series: Rise of ‘BookTok’ inspires more students to read outside of school


Alyssa Gast

TikTok has made a number of book titles go viral among Bearden students, and the Bearden library now has a shelf reserved for some of those books.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part series on Bearden students and the ever-growing presence of TikTok. The next installment will be on TikTok and the spread of misinformation, and the final story will share students’ reflections on using TikTok as a practical tool. The first story was on how TikTok influences Bearden students’ social dynamics and in-person interactions.

A student is scrolling through TikTok when she comes across a video that matches her aesthetic. The TikTok is suggesting she read a number of horror books as a way to set the mood for spooky season. Even though she traditionally refrains from reading outside of school, she decides to invest in a copy of the book, which sends her into a spiral of reading thriller novels. 

Many teenagers have similar experiences in which social media influenced their motivation to read books and spark conversations with their peers. 

Reading has become more popular among teens recently due to the rise of “BookTok” and popular authors such as Colleen Hoover.

“We’ve always been more popular than people think we are. More teens, more high schoolers read than people really realize,” Bearden librarian Mrs. Kristen Heffern said. “But I have had more people in the last year come in and ask for specific titles and are getting those from TikTok. 

“They’re getting those from Instagram. They’re getting them from word of mouth.” 

The Bearden library is keeping up with the trending novels with their “BookTok” or “As Seen on TikTok” section. The most popular BookTok novels tend to be mysteries, thrillers, suspenses, or romances. 

“I’ve definitely discovered a lot of books on BookTok, but also through my friends that watch those videos too and have read them and told me to read them,” junior Leah Creasman said. “I read this Colleen Hoover book, it’s Reminders of Him; that’s definitely my favorite book that I’ve read so far.”

When English and Creative Writing teacher Mrs. Shelby Graves began her reading journey, she found an immense amount of joy in reading until she had to participate in Accelerated Reading. The requirement of reading only books that were her reading level made reading a burden. However, when Twilight and Percy Jackson came out, Mrs. Graves fell back in love with reading.

“Whenever I was in high school, I began reading those things and whenever I think about Colleen Hoover or something like that, it might not be the most literary text, but if it’s something a student’s reading, it’s really important,” Mrs. Graves said.

“I started off with Twilight and Percy Jackson, so I’m not going to shame them for starting off with Colleen Hoover.”

Senior Cate Turner has had a similar experience with reading. 

“A book that I always go back to is called Write Me Off  [by Brandy Davis],” Turner said. “It got me back into reading, and I read it about two years ago and I have the digital copy and the paper copy. 

“I read it all the time, and I recommend it to a lot of people. Even though it’s a romance novel, I still think it talks about what it means to be close with an individual.” 

Thrillers and romance novels specifically have been trending on TikTok. Not only do romance novels introduce teenagers to reading, they also spark conversations among teenagers. 

“They are popular, going around, and everyone is talking about them,” senior Addison May said. “The books sound interesting, and it’s probably about stuff that relates.

“It definitely brought me closer to people I didn’t think I was friends with.”