Capital Current reporter Rebecca Weston. [Photo © Manuel Baechlin]

Reading has always been an enjoyable pastime for me, but finding the right book has often proven to be challenging. But surprise: TikTok — an icon of our supposedly post-literate age — has helped me discover new and interesting books while connecting with others.

Tiktok is one of the world’s biggest and most influential social media platforms. You can view videos related to dancing, cooking, acting, travel and much, much more. Countless sub-communities exist on the app, and one of them is BookTok.

Focused on books and literature, BookTok is a hashtag where people post their recommendations, have discussions and share book reviews. The books that trend come from many different genres but tend to focus on adult fiction, young adult fantasy and romance. 

After finishing a book, I tend to want to read another that is similar in style or subject to continue the experience. On BookTok, people will do that for you by grouping books together that are alike. 

BookTok has become so popular that larger bookstores, such as Chapters Indigo and Barnes and Noble, have created a section in their stores for books that are trending on the app.

The backbone of any social media network is its algorithm — the data-sorting program that helps users narrow down what they want to see on their accounts. The algorithm tracks what users look at and suggests what they might like to look at while using social media platforms. 

‘BookTok has become so popular that larger bookstores, such as Chapters Indigo and Barnes and Noble, have created a section in their stores for books that are trending on the app.’

Once the app sees and understands that you are interested in content from BookTok, more videos begin to pop up on your For You Page. Then it will try to pin down the genres you may enjoy, so you can see all of the book recommendations geared to your tastes.

This happened to me and I didn’t even realize it.

I was seeing these videos with background music that I enjoy, aesthetically pleasing covers and books with really intriguing storylines. 

I often see a very short video, around 15 seconds, that’s captioned: “Books that feel like falling in love,” or “Books that broke me.” These sentences alone pique my interest because now I want to see the titles; sometimes I’ll go further and look up the book’s synopsis because I want to know more about it.

Once in a while, the books that get really popular on BookTok make it onto other sub-communities because the topics relate to one another. 

An example of this is the historical fiction bestseller The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by American author Taylor Reid Jenkins. Many of Jenkins’s books are showcased at BookTok — not just because they’re interesting, but because so many people on the platform share that they’re reading her books. 

Another author whose books are frequently circulated on TikTok is U.S. young adult fiction writer Colleen Hoover. 

Prior to reading BookTok recommendations, I almost felt left out because some people would post videos about sections of these books that shocked them but give very little information. I wasn’t sure what exactly they were talking about and I wanted to get in on what had grabbed their attention. 

The downside of so many people raving about a BookTok recommendation is that my expectations going into the story become very high. They may be really good books, but BookTok makes it seem like you’ll be missing out on something truly amazing if you don’t read them. 

Now, I try and read books that are not as popular on BookTok but which my algorithm thinks I will enjoy. It seems that my social media knows me the best.