The Importance Of Online Book Communities


Julissa Athanassiou, Bear Hub Staff

With the rise of social media and online content creators, there has been a change in the way people read, with many popular content creators and trends influencing people and their reading habits/choices. Books have become more accessible due to the internet, with a rise in ebooks and audiobooks, but many find that there is an added distraction due to it. In this post, I want to talk about different trends and popular figures across different social media platforms along with their impact on the reading community, with added input from the English teachers here at EBHS.

There has been a growing community over the past couple of years of book lovers online, the most famous ones being “booktok” and “booktube” (reading communities on TikTok and Youtube). These communities are important because there is something for everyone; regardless of your preferred genre, or how much you read, there is a community of people willing to share some of their favorite stories and can provide support through adversity. For example, a popular booktuber I would recommend is Jack Edwards, who does a lot of book ratings and explanations while doing fun book challenges. The Book Leo is a cozy channel with book vlogs and favorite booktuber, withcindy, makes humorous videos where she is not afraid to open up to her audience and be honest. I also love watching A Clockwork Reader and NayaReadsAndSmiles. A Clockwork Reader is not afraid to share her opinions on certain books and show/movie adaptations and does a lot of book hauls and challenges, an example being a recent video where she guessed books by their first sentence. NayaReadsAndSmiles is a content creator that highlights authors of color, while also providing bookshelf tours and books for different seasons and months. On TikTok, some creators I actively watch include @ezeecat, who currently has 656 thousand followers and talks about books, TV shows, and board games. @callisreadingg is known for her book mail unboxing and recommendations, while @bookishbytammi posts a lot of book hauls and reviews. @linas.library posts videos on book annotations, which are visually pleasing, while also doing book art.

Thanks to the internet, reading has become much more accessible to many. There has been an increase in the number of ebooks read, with a survey in 2019 showing that around 25-30% of adults in America read ebooks (Pew Research Center). It is also a great way to reach teens, as in 2018 less than 20% of teens in America reported reading books for pleasure (APA). English teacher Mrs. Hagan believes this number is so low is that, “most people do not realize what they could enjoy reading because they have spent most of their lives being forced to read books they have not chosen. I usually talk to my students about their interests and show them how to choose books on their own. I never enjoyed reading until I had the freedom to choose, so I know what that feels like.” As much of their time is spent online, especially on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, it can help encourage many of them to start reading. Books are timeless; they are versatile, serving as a way to both entertain and provide valuable knowledge that can influence a person’s outlook on life. They unite people of different backgrounds, helping them to navigate the complexities of life and find meaning within themselves. That’s why I love reading, as it immerses people in different worlds and explores new ideas and philosophies. Teacher McKibbin explains the importance of reading, saying that “Literature plays a monumental role in developing who we are. It helps us to understand the world around us, shapes our societal views, and enables us to make informed decisions about how we want to live our lives.” When it comes to influential authors, Mrs. Hagan offers the following recommendations for students:

Audre Lorde: “[He] made me fall in love with poetry. Gender and race are the two biggest topics of our time, and her words have stayed relevant.”

Ernest Hemingway: “[He] stands out because he shows a raw and realistic version of life in a vulnerable and stark way.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “[He] also changed my relationship with literature because he talks about issues some authors never want to touch.”

Creators online use their platform not only to share fun stories but to advocate and become a voice for many. “We have such a narrow focus because of where we were raised, so literature exposes us to things we might never consider”, Hagan says. As readers, we are all able to come together to talk about problems we face in the reading community and life, such as lack of representation, mental health, personal growth, and self-development. However, an increased awareness of these topics can lead to increased understanding between individuals and is influential to people’s outlook on life.