Move Over, Dance Challenges: Reading Is the New Trend on Tiktok

Screen grabs from @maya.reads (on left) and @the_dyslexic_reader (on right) from TikTok.

When you think of TikTok, books probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But the platform known for popularizing dance challenges has another rising trend: BookTok. Welter staffer Arlene Barrow reports.

With over 24 billion views, #BookTok has become the place to talk about books  — more specifically, about YA fiction. And when you watch videos from creators like Maya Topiwala of @maya.reads, you can see why. Her videos buzz with a sense of contagious excitement, and they range from outright funny to insightful analysis.


If you’re an educator I’m begging you to incorporate this into your curriculum #theinheritanceoforquídeadivina #zoraidacordova #COVIDBookReviews

♬ original sound – Maya (she/her)

“COVID book reviews part 5” video from @maya.reads on TikTok.

I chatted with Maya about her experiences with the trend, and she summed up the feeling of watching BookTok videos perfectly. “It feels like you’re on FaceTime with somebody,” she told me. “You can’t help but smile while watching some of these videos.”

This feeling is evident when scrolling through content from creators like Alaina Graupman, who goes by the handle @the_dyslexic_reader. Her videos are like talking to a friend — one who can’t help but gush to you about their latest, juiciest read.


May be my fav book this summer // #the_dyslexic_reader #maliburising

♬ original sound – Alaina

“Malibu Rising review” video from @the_dyslexic_reader on TikTok.

This sense of personal connection is part of what’s enabled BookTok to go from mere hashtag to major economic force. When I spoke with Alaina, she told me that the trend is “changing the way that books are being bought and published.”

Maya also noted BookTok’s impact. “One video can go viral and get books back on the New York Times bestsellers list,” she said. “People who have worked in the publishing industry for 40 and 50 years are like, ‘I’ve never seen this in my entire life.’”

A quick Google search of “BookTok” confirms its power. “TikTok is taking the book industry by storm,” reads an NBC headline, while a Guardian piece entices readers to “meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts.”

But traditional publishers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of this trend; authors are also using BookTok to connect with their audiences. Maya described the videos of Iron Widow author Xiran Jay Zhao, saying they’re “so funny, and they make you want to read the book… She’s found a whole audience that traditional publishing may not have found.”


A true love triangle should go all 3 ways! #booktok #yabooktok #yabooks #ironwidow #books #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #bookrecommendations

♬ Smiling All Day Long – Upbeat Happy Music

“A YA love triangle that truly goes all 3 ways?!” video from @xiranjayzhao on TikTok.

A writer herself, Alaina agreed that BookTok is a great resource for authors. “There are tons of people who will post about your book,” she said. “You don’t have to talk to creators that have huge followings, and you don’t have to pay them; there are people who are just willing to help.”

So, while TikTok can be a little overwhelming at first, BookTok is worth a look for both readers and writers. “It’s not scary,” Alaina assured me. “I never thought I would be posting videos on the internet, and I’m so glad I’m doing it now.”

And for those brave enough to take the plunge and start creating videos, Maya had some parting words of wisdom. “When you sit down to make videos, just do it for yourself,” she told me. “It’s not about becoming an influencer… If I’m enjoying it, if my friends are enjoying it, that’s enough.”

And who knows: you might just create a video that you, your friends, and the world enjoy enough that it pushes the next book to the top of the New York Times best seller list.

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