To cap off our Pandemic Blog Series, I’m featuring not only two, but three Booktok Content Creators for today’s post!
Ever since I signed up on Tiktok, I’ve been following these three lovely ladies because they mostly share the same reading preferences as me. But before I let them take the stage, I wanted to talk about Booktok for a bit.
I’m not really active on BookTok, but I do have a few videos posted. I’m totally writing this from a viewer’s perspective. But one thing’s for sure, the rise of Booktok in the Philippines was an excellent way to promote books and readership, especially during the pandemic.
I’m not really an active part of BookTok Philippines, but I’ve found a lot of content creators, like Nicole and Sai from my previous post, actively talking about books they read. With the evolution of social media, Tiktok became a significant platform for book marketing. Even our local bookstores now have tables for their “BookTok Picks”.
However, this is my only nitpick. People on BookTok tend to talk about the same books over and over again; most of them are written by white authors. I have nothing against them, and I think they deserve the buzz. What I’m hoping to see is more books by BIPOC authors getting the same kind of hype on the platform.
Luckily, our featured BookTok Influencers go out their way and actively look for more diverse books to read. Now, I’m handing you off to them as they discuss how BookTok became an escape for them during this pandemic.
How BookTok Made the Inner Child in Me Happy
Honestly, I started reading as young as ten to eleven years old? The first book that ever got me into reading was Secret Garden and I may not remember anything about that book but what I do know is that in the book the main character (which i completely forgot the name of hahaha) discovered a garden and used this as her escape when things around her go tough and for someone like me that sounds magical, a luxurious escape.
An escape so enchanting that it could lead me to different kinds of worlds with characters that make me feel things that an 11 year old Southeast Asian like me could never experience. Sadly, unlike the book’s happy ending, my escape did not end well because I had to stop reading when I was in senior high school to focus on more important and personal matters.
Everything got so hectic and issues started to rise that I feel like escaping was wrong so I did not touch a book for a whole three years (but I’d also to think I was in a big reading slump hehe) until the pandemic arrived.
Reconnecting with books
The pandemic was such a great reason for me to reconnect to the neglected inner child in me and that included my supposed ignorance for books. It’s ironic to think that a virus like this one that literally caused the world to stop has been one of the big reasons as to why I feel alive most of the time.
The pandemic made me reconnect with my love for reading and to understand why I read, yes it is still an escape but this time feelings of guilt weren’t existing anymore. I was reading not only for the escape but because I have come to love the feeling of being lost in the words itself and that it also has the power to change the way I think about life. It gave me more chances to read various genres, back then I used to avoid reading Mitch Albom books because I thought they were “corny” but guess who was crying after reading The First Phone Call From Heaven? Yep, me hahahaha.
Maybe I haven’t realized this back then, but books truly did change my life even at a young age. Perhaps I used to disguise it as an escape so that I could easily understand why I like reading so much, but now that I’m older I understand that books make life better and that I don’t have to escape every little inconvenience in my life.
In fact, reading so many diverse books helps me understand it better. That is why ten year old me would be shocked to know that I have created a platform just to express my love for books, even though that was pushed by the pandemic. Who knew that the TikTok algorithm would take me here and make the inner child in me so happy?
BookTok is a welcoming community
I’d like to think that Booktok Philippines is a big community that welcomes you with a big warm hug and asks you about the many books that you have read. Generally speaking, BookTok PH is such a cool community that provided opportunities for readers like me to express this undying love for characters, books and tropes without being judged for it!
Without this platform, I would never get the chance to read the works of some of my favorite authors now, like Rachel Lynn Solomon or Roshani Chokshi. BookTok Philippines gave me the chance to diversify the books I read, while at the same time not judge me for it—as long as the book is not problematic hahaha!
But what I truly love about this community is that I get to have the chance to share the lessons that I have learned in between the pages, how I was able to accept myself and understand myself better.
Overall, I truly think that BookTok PH has become this source for all Filipinos who want to get back on reading, want to have friends who read as well or just basically want to start reading. That is why I love that this community is being more open and welcoming for all kinds of readers, for every bookworm needs a loving home that does not only exist between the pages.
How I Came To Love BookTok
I started reading when I was in the 4th grade and since then I haven’t stopped. The first book I ever finished was a published Pop Fiction book that my classmate lent me and I didn’t know at that time but that was what started it all. After finishing one book I had this itch that I needed to read another one, then another, then another, and now here I am 9 years later and still reading.
Throughout the years you could say that I have been a consistent reader. I made it a habit to read at least one book a week or at least a few chapters if I was busy. I admit that there were months that I read no books but then when I’m in the mood I suddenly finish around 10 books in a week.
How did the COVID-19 Pandemic affect my love for reading?
In terms of reading habits or frequency of reading, I would say that there isn’t anything drastically different. Like I mentioned, reading became a habit for me, I often wanted to finish a book as quickly as possible and pick up a new one straight away. It wasn’t that I wanted to just increase my book count but I always found myself wanting to immediately know how the story unfolds and where the characters end up.
Reading books felt like gossiping with friends, you don’t want to stop till you know how it ended. Admittedly if I were to talk about changes that this time has brought me, it would be evident in the types of books I read.
Back then, I didn’t really realize how the publishing industry was so predominantly white-washed. Or that I was reading the same types of books with basically the same types of characters just in different fonts, over and over again. All these main characters were the “good girls” with the eurocentric features with their male counterparts and of course who would forget about the “silly” generic token POC best friend.
I wouldn’t have realized this if there weren’t people on BookTok talking about it. Now, compared to before, I consciously make an effort to read more books from different genres written by different authors.
My Hate-to-Love Relationship with BookTok
If you told me a year ago that I would be making TikTok videos about books to thousands of people, I would have stared at you in disbelief. I was one of those people in the beginning of the pandemic who was very much anti-TikTok and found it cringy.
It’s so weird how different it is now. When I made my BookTok account last year I just wanted to talk about books. I’m an only child with working parents and being in isolation for so long made me just want to rant on the internet about something I loved- which was reading.
And now, almost 12 months later, I have met so many amazing people who shared my love for reading and I have read so many good books because of this community. It is so surreal to see and hear about people from all over the country sharing that through BookTok they rekindled their passion to read or that there are people who found the comfort of reading for the first time ever, through this community.
TikTok made it really easy for strangers all over the globe to find common ground and bond over a mutual interest, and as a content creator that was so fascinating to me. It truly amazes me when I see “BookTok Picks” in bookstores, or when I see a certain book being sold out after it has been recommended on the app.
It brings people together in ways that I would have never fathomed of and that just shows how impactful this community is.
I guess that’s it. I don’t really know what to say anymore or how to end this essay but I hope that to anyone that reads this feels inspired to just do what they want to do as long as they have a genuine love and passion for it. That’s all!
BookTok and My Reading Habits
I’ve been creating bookish content on Bookstagram and Booktube since 2016 and I decided to go on hiatus around the middle of 2020. Before this, I already noticed how my interest in books was slowly declining. I was used to reading one book per week back in 2016 then it started becoming one book per month and it ended with me not reading any book at all in months. I felt sad that reading started becoming like a chore rather than a hobby.
Fast forward to the start of 2021, I was reviewing for my board exam and I sort of wanted an escape. My routine felt so repetitive. I was studying the whole day and I didn’t have any change in scenery because we were stuck with online review classes. I looked for an escape and suddenly while scrolling through TikTok, I ventured into the world of BookTok.
One thing I love about TikTok’s algorithm is that when you watch one video about #BookTok and interact with that said content, it will keep on showing you videos about books! I love how the videos were so short and sometimes, one short TikTok video already contains multiple book recommendations. I discovered new authors and new books. I also love how the creators maximize the time limit on TikTok so they just immediately go to the good parts that would make you want to read that book.
BookTok and BookTube
With this, I really believe that BookTok and BookTube go in harmony with each other. BookTok can introduce you to a lot of books in just a short time while BookTube gives you a much more detailed review of those said books. I suddenly felt the urge to start reading again. I think the fact that I was reading for myself during the beginning of 2021 played a huge role in rekindling my love for reading. I wasn’t thinking of making a content out of the book I’m reading. I just read what I wanted to read.
In August 2021, I finished my board exam and got my license so I decided to finally make BookTok content! I think my hiatus from reading and making bookish videos taught me that if I wanted to continue doing content like this, I should not just ask if others will enjoy it but also ensure that I’m enjoying creating it as well. Because in all honesty, sometimes we get distracted by the numbers when making content. Of course, this is natural for us since as humans, we all crave some sense of validation and it somehow encourages us to create more content when people enjoy what we’re making.
Sharing books I genuinely love
Because of this, I make sure that in every BookTok video, I genuinely love the book that I want to share and present it in a manner that would be enjoyed by everyone. I admit that I loved hoarding books back then especially during book fairs before the pandemic happened. But now, I reflected on my actions and I’m starting to declutter my books. I buy books that I only want to read and only keep books that ‘sparks joy’ (sadly, they’re still a lot LOL but I’m better than before haha).
I was also influenced to buy a Kindle and honestly, after three months of using it, I realized how good of an investment it is. It really made me read more. I was able to read 10 books last month because it just feels so easy to read with a Kindle because you can bring it anywhere without any hassle and you can access books with just a click.
So far, after six months of making BookTok videos, I am actually happy that it doesn’t feel like a chore. I love how the community is very supportive of one another and it really makes it fun to discuss books with people who love the same things. It’s also very encouraging every time I get messages saying that they started reading because of BookTok videos. It makes me want to contribute more. It makes me want to create more content that people and I, myself, will enjoy.
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Catch up with the rest of the Blog Series!
- Part 1 – Readership in the Philippines during the Pandemic – Introduction Post
- Part 2 – Books From Us | The Origin Story
- Part 3 – How the Pandemic Affected my Reading Habits | Featuring Juri and Spens
- Part 4 – How the Pandemic Affected my Book Purchasing Habits | Featuring Clara and Kate
- Part 5 – Regaining My Love For Books | Featuring Sai and Nicole
Let’s Chat! 💬
Are you active on BookTok as well? What book did you read because of BookTok?