September 25, 2022

Reading and Social Media

Reading and social media don’t seem like harmonious partners, but in recent years they have been brought much closer together. This has undoubtedly been helped by #booktok on TikTok. Described as “the last wholesome place on the internet”, BookTok allows TikTok users to discuss all things literary with one another. But what is its impact and how can you use different social media platforms to get the most out of your reading experience?

A Brief History of BookTok

The TikTok phenomenon was first mentioned on the platform in 2019 but didn’t really take off until April 2020. In hindsight, this is hardly surprising given that book sales in 2020 rose to a whopping £2.1 billion. This was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic as people searched for something to do to alleviate the boredom caused by increased time indoors.

BookTok quickly became a community with users sharing all things bookish in their own corner of the internet. Posts using #booktok range in topic from literary quotes to book recommendations and even parodies of some books. As of April 2022, the hashtag has had over 49.2 billion views.

The Impact of BookTok

These BookTok views have had a real-world impact too, dispelling the myth that social media is a digital microcosm. Trade publication The Bookseller reported that publishers were selling out of copies of backlisted books. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is the 2018 mind-bending, sub-genre blending novel Verity by Colleen Hoover. Before the book went viral on BookTok, it had sold 11900 copies in three years. Hoover had self-published the book, but thanks to its TikTok stardom, it was acquired by publisher Sphere. After the book was reissued by the publisher, it sold 6,020 copies in just one week. This is nearly half the total number sold in the three-year period! According to the publisher’s website, the book has now sold over three million copies since its release.

Therefore, it may be said that the power of BookTok reaches far beyond readers using TikTok. The influence of the trend catapulted Colleen Hoover to fame in literary circles and gained her a well-deserved publishing contract. She can now focus on writing new novels that her readers (including the author of this blog!) wait with bated breath to see. Reader power through BookTok effectively allows users to influence the content they get to see. They can sometimes even influence the content being produced by their favourite authors.

Sold on the relationship between social media and reading? Read on to find out how you can get involved on some of the most popular social media networks!

Reading and Social Media

Perhaps the best place to start is to mention the social media sites dedicated to books such as Goodreads and BookCrossing. The tech blog Lifewire has produced a comprehensive list of such sites which can be accessed here. However, this post is focused on the more conventional forms of social media so that you can get the benefit of social media whether you are a voracious reader or a novel novice.


Like TikTok, Instagram has its own community of book lovers called Bookstagram. It’s decidedly less developed than TikTok and is bizarrely listed as a bookshop. Don’t be put off by this. Bookstagram contains lots of book related content from reading lists and reviews to reels containing quotes. The reels are admittedly similar to those found on TikTok, but the text-based posts contain lots of detail.

Great if you… want to dive into book reviews and reading lists.

Not so great if you… are still exploring your reading taste.


The best thing about Facebook is its group function. If you search ‘book club’ you will end up with thousands of results. This seems overwhelming, especially when you see that some of the groups listed put out 20+ posts a day. These groups may be referred to as crowdsourced book clubs, and because of this it can be easier to narrow down your results. For example, if you want to read the latest fiction, search ‘book club 2022’. You will probably come across a much more diverse list of titles. These may be from self-published authors and authors from a range of niches within the publishing industry. With these groups, you are exposed to the risk of duplicate posts and potentially some self-promotion, but ultimately, they are for readers by readers.

However, if you’re worried about barraging your feed with book recommendations, you can stick to the more well-known celebrity book clubs such as Reese’s Book Club or Richard and Judy’s Book Club. These contain all the benefits of a crowdsourced Facebook book club but have much less scope for exploring themed reading lists. These book clubs are brilliant at giving you theme focussed recommendations, with posts and reels exclaiming ‘if you liked that book, you’ll like this one’. Moreover, you don’t need to buy/subscribe to the book clubs to join these groups (although there will likely be some ads for the books that are being talked about on the page).

Great if you… are looking for recommendations.

Not so great if you… are looking for reviews.


Like the other social media sites, Twitter has its’ own community of book lovers. Arguably, it is harder to find than those previously mentioned as there is not a specific hashtag to put on posts about books. There is #BookTwitter, but it comes out with a rather disparate collection of posts that aren’t easy to navigate and certainly don’t include all posts about books.

Where Twitter is useful though is in its ‘People’ function. Many book groups from official organisations like the BBC elect to use Twitter as their main social media platform. Therefore, when you search for ‘book club’ and click on the ‘People’ filter, you will find book clubs to suit all tastes. The use of threads on these pages makes it much easier for the pages to present collections of books. This is because they are grouped together by theme than on any other social media platform. This makes it easy for you to discern if you like the content of the page in a couple of clicks.

Great if you… are looking to expand your repertoire in a structured way.

Not so great if you… are looking for video content.


Although YouTube isn’t the go-to social media platform nowadays, it’s still worth mentioning in the context of reading and social media. There are some great YouTubers who create videos about books. These videos may be your typical book review, or they may be videos containing a compilation of the best books on a specific theme or by a certain author. The comments section is also a great place to discuss the books mentioned in the videos with likeminded people.

Great if you… are looking to learn about a theme and/or author in more detail

Not so great if you… are looking for short-form content.

Being involved in social media is a great way to enhance your reading experience. What’s more, it doesn’t cost a penny so there’s no commitment needed.


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