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is tiktok ruining reading & the desire to be 'a reader'

Is TikTok Ruining Reading? The Desire to Be 'A Reader'

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TikTok, a popular social media platform, has sparked a resurgence in reading among young people. However, this has resulted in criticism from some who believe that TikTok's focus on aesthetics and identity overshadows genuine love for literature. In this article, we will explore the impact of TikTok on reading as a hobby and address common criticisms.

Is TikTok Only Recommending the Same 20 Books?

A common criticism of BookTok, the bookish community on TikTok, is that it only promotes a limited selection of books. While there is some truth to this, it can be attributed to the platform's algorithm rather than BookTok itself. TikTok's algorithm favors content that keeps users engaged, and as a result, popular books tend to dominate BookTok. However, this does not imply that BookTok lacks diversity. By spending more time on the platform, users can personalize their recommendations and discover a wider range of book recommendations.

The Desire to Be Recognized as 'A Reader'

The act of identifying oneself as a reader is often seen as a way to connect with like-minded individuals and create a sense of community. It is not just about reading for pleasure; it goes beyond that. This identification allows individuals to find others who share their love for books and initiate conversations centered around reading. The desire to belong to a community of readers can be particularly appealing to young people, especially during their formative years. It should be noted that this identification can lead to pitfalls such as gatekeeping, consumerism, and constant comparison with others.

The Aestheticization of Reading

Many individuals on TikTok showcase the aesthetics of their bookshelves, their reading habits, and their favorite books. Some criticize this practice, arguing that it detracts from the actual act of reading. However, this argument overlooks the fact that the aesthetics serve as a visual language to signal one's love for reading. The visual appeal is a means for BookTok users to connect with others and express their identity. It is important to recognize that this aestheticization is not exclusive to BookTok; it is a broader phenomenon across various social media platforms.

Personal Online Branding and Bookish Identity

Creating an online identity has become a prevalent trend across social media platforms. Users curate their content to represent themselves and establish a personal brand. This extends to BookTok, where individuals present their love for reading in a specific way. However, it should be noted that personal branding is not limited to BookTok but encompasses the wider social media landscape. It is crucial to distinguish between personal branding and the genuine passion for reading. While personal branding may sometimes overshadow the actual act of reading, it should not detract from the joy and value that reading brings to individuals.

Summarized Keywords

  • TikTok
  • BookTok
  • Reading community
  • Algorithm
  • Book recommendations
  • Sense of belonging
  • Gatekeeping
  • Consumerism
  • Aesthetics of reading
  • Personal branding


A: The BookTok community tends to focus on popular books due to TikTok's algorithm. However, there is diversity within BookTok, and users can personalize their recommendations.

Q: Is it shallow to focus on the aesthetics of reading?

A: The aesthetics of reading serve as a visual language to connect with others and express one's identity. It is a way to signal a shared interest in reading.

Q: Does personal branding overshadow the act of reading?

A: Personal branding and the desire to create an online identity can sometimes overshadow the act of reading. However, this is not exclusive to BookTok and is a broader trend across social media platforms.

Q: Are BookTok users genuinely passionate about reading?

A: While personal branding may influence how individuals present themselves, it does not negate their genuine love for reading. It is important to separate personal branding from one's passion for literature.

Q: Is BookTok exclusionary?

A: BookTok, like any online community, has elements of gatekeeping. However, by focusing on diverse book recommendations, users can diversify their reading choices and promote inclusivity.

Q: Has TikTok negatively impacted reading habits?

A: TikTok has sparked a renewed interest in reading among young people. While there may be pitfalls associated with TikTok's influence, it has ultimately encouraged more people to engage with literature.