In the past year, TikTok has become much more than just the dance and lip-sync video platform it once was.
Now, users can find themselves on several different sides of TikTok, such as "WitchTok," "FoodieTok," and my personal favorite, "BookTok."
BookTok, or book TikTok, is a product of the platform's uncanny ability to bring together like-minded users through its algorithm. Users are welcome to interact, start funny trends, cosplay and give book recommendations.
The community has manifested itself in various ways across the platform, having its own sides pertaining to specifics genres, characters or books. One of the most popular forms I've seen stemmed from "DracoTok" — the name given to a portion of TikTok's "Harry Potter" fan base that obsesses over the series' resident bad boy, Draco Malfoy, and the actor who plays him.
While this is not how BookTok began, it's how I was first introduced to the concept. I thought that I would have been well aware of the bookish social media community from its beginning since I grew up reading through every second of spare time and getting lost in fanfiction.
Since finding BookTok, I've never felt more in touch with my inner book nerd.
My introduction to DracoTok made me feel right at home. The first video I watched featured a girl acting as a Hogwarts student who was being romantically pursued by Draco. It felt reminiscent of the one too many Wattpad stories I read during my teenage years.
In my former school settings, I was always considered "the weird girl who likes 'Harry Potter' a little too much," so I tended to keep that information to myself as I grew older.
Now, I feel like I don’t have to.
BookTok is filled with veteran fans of the many series I grew up reading and loving, so it was easy for me to feel right at home while watching BookTok content.
Whether I'm watching someone perform a skit as Percy Jackson or a video meant to poke fun at the "Twilight" franchise, I'm always in on the joke — something that couldn't always be said for real life.
A lot of creators use the platform to share their thoughts and shed light on problems they have with certain series. Other users, myself included, chime in with the comments, usually getting a response from that creator or other fans. This has been an unexpected way to find friends all across the world and share my love for books like "The Hunger Games."
BookTok has also served as a renewal for those of us who lost touch with our bookworm alter egos. While many of us were probably enamored with a popular book-turned-movie franchise at one point or another, others' loves for reading have dwindled out once the stress of college took over.
I was one of those people.
I had never stopped loving books and the rush of comfort they gave me — I just put them on the back burner while mountains of homework took over for four years.
That being said, when I finally had time to sit down and pick up a good book again, I was lost on where to start. There were so many releases I had missed, and some that I would likely never have found had it not been for BookTok.
Among the cosplayers and the skit-makers, there are also creators on BookTok who film 60-second book reviews or compile lists of books for audiences to read if they’ve liked a particular novel or phenomenon in the past.
My most recent discovery has been "Verona Comics" by Jennifer Dugan, which a TikTok creator described as a quirky romance that is perfect for Marvel fans. As a Marvel aficionado myself, I was quick to check it out, and I'm glad I did because it lived up to my expectations of a comic book-induced love story.
But more than anything, the best part of BookTok is the sense of community surrounding it. To me, it’s not a side of TikTok that excludes users based on age or level of knowledge about a series. Instead, it welcomes everyone with open arms.
BookTok has been a way for me to look in on my favorite fandoms from the outside and watch people younger than me fall in love with the books that made me who I am. I've been able to interact with other people like me and geek out over things that some 22-year-olds would be embarrassed to admit out loud, and I find comfort in that.
My inclusion in BookTok serves as a constant reminder that it is OK for some things to never change, and that it will always be OK to cry over your favorite characters.
And most of all, it reminds me that I'm not doing it alone.
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