Gannon’s English-speaking community reflects on the influence of social media on increasing readership
With our society’s apparent reliance on technology, it may be shocking that many still enjoy reading physical books.
E-readers had their glory days, but popular social media app TikTok was able to encourage young and old to read the paper again.
“BookTok” is a trending part of the app’s algorithm that shows viewers popular books of all genres. Many popular tracks include “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart as well as an abundance of books by author Colleen Hoover.
It’s easy to admit that with age and busy schedules you can fall into reading slumps, but all it takes is having the right book to get you back into the hobby. As children, we are encouraged to read, but observation of our classmates throughout high school has led to a consensus that reading has become something “uncool.”
TikTok is primarily known for its array of influencers and, in some cases, mind-boggling content. Beneath it all are educational resources – including BookTok – with its positive nature of keeping people reading fiction, non-fiction and everything in between.
Gannon University students and faculty shared their opinions and experiences with BookTok, as well as the impact of technology on young people in particular.
Anna Brink, an English major, noted that when she rates recommended titles on TikTok, it depends on the creator as well as the genre of the title.
“I’m also more inclined to read a book that has a cool cover,” Brink said.
Although the saying doesn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s what grabs our attention first, whether we see it displayed digitally or physically in a bookstore.
Social media is surrounded by the idea of visual appeal, and from creator to creator, the appropriate representation of a person, place or even a book and its content will vary.
Melissa Carlson, a junior triple major in English, Theology, and Secondary Education, is a daily TikTok user who checks out BookTok content on her For You page almost daily. The videos she finds most intriguing are those that provide a brief synopsis or tropes associated with the plot.
“The Hating Game”, “The Song of Achilles” and “Normal People” are just some of the hundreds, if not thousands, of titles shared by content creators on BookTok.
For many social media platforms, the comments section is an essential part of the app.
TikTok in particular allows users to share both their reviews and their praise for titles mentioned in a given video.
Derek DiMatteo, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the English department, hasn’t downloaded TikTok but still knows about BookTok.
“I think it can positively influence young people by giving them the opportunity to offer reviews of books they have read to a wide audience,” he said. “And it also gives readers a wide range of perspectives and discussions on the books.”
Jennifer Popa, Ph.D., also an assistant professor in the English department and an active TikTok user, describes BookTok as a positive space on the app.
“By engaging with BookTok, we’re the signal amplifiers for writers and the books they’ve written, but we’re also encouraging reading for everyone,” she said. As an English teacher and writer, I’m contractually obligated to say that I always support any effort to encourage reading.
“Even when people insist that they ‘don’t like reading’, I tend to think they just haven’t found the right book yet.”
Technology and the use of social media are both heavily debated in terms of their effects on young users – whether they are more positive than negative, and vice versa.
From a student’s perspective, Carlson said, “I think social media and technology have a big impact on young people and their hobbies, whether good or bad.”
She noted that the amount of interaction on various content topics, including literature, has a huge impact on user interest levels.
As an educator who is asked if technology is more harmful than helpful, Popa said she is a firm believer in the phrase “all things in moderation.” She feels that ignoring students’ digital literacy makes her feel like she’s not challenging them in a way that they have the potential to be successful in their lives as young professionals.
“Technology is very broad and comes in many shapes and sizes, but I think it helps to have a sense of curiosity about yourself and your habits,” Popa said.
While there may be endless societal debate about the technology, it’s refreshing to know that many still enjoy the feel of paperbacks and that social media apps like TikTok have creators who still cheer viewers on. to do it.