Why is everyone reading?

As a study conducted by The Guardian shows, 41% of people are now reading more books. Lockdown has pushed for a tidal wave of new and old readers to enter the population, seeking solace and escapism within the pages of a book. With nothing else to do but twiddle thumbs and refresh the news, it makes sense that these fictitious worlds that were free of social distancing and coronavirus would become so popular. 

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What struck me about this particular rise in the reading community was how interconnected readers have become. The growth of Tik Tok – a video sharing platform that has boomed over the past year – facilitated this sudden spike in reading. The birth of BookTok blew reading into the stratosphere. 

Book related online communities are no new thing. BookTube and Bookstagram have been around for as long as I can remember. Groups and forums for readers to discuss their favourite books have been pivotal watering holes for the digital generation of readers. But BookTok saw itself as a deviation from the traditional narrative. 

With a 3 minute window to express yourself, BookTok has seen the emergence of not only reviews and recommendations but very raw and visceral reactions to books. With popular songs accompanying them, accounts can create ‘aesthetic’ videos capturing the essence of a book, it’s best quotes, even just displaying a pretty book cover. 

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These videos can rack up millions of views, creating huge spikes in the sales of particular books that have gone ‘viral’ on the platform. Adam Silvera’s ‘They Both Die at the End’ was one such book, going on to sell 4,000 copies in March alone given its popularity on the site. 

What this lockdown has truly brought about is a widening circle and community of readers. Feelings of isolation and hopelessness were so easy to come by when trapped alone, and yet even the idea that someone across the world is reading the same book as you could be enough to inspire a sense that there is someone out there in the void. 

This new wave of readers can be seen as breaking and shaping our new wave of books. 

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