Summer is a glorious time for leisure.
All across the land, adults and children alike are partaking in their favorite vacation-centric activities: from swimming and splashing to resting and relaxing, summer is a delightful time to recharge.
And as we all know, summer is the best time of year to do some reading. Reading on the beach is one of the most blissful experiences a human can have, and it’s one of my favorite things to do… ever.
Maybe this Pavlovian pizza conditioning is why I do my best and most prolific reading in summer. From a young age, I was promised a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut, just to reward me for doing the reading I was probably going to do anyways. They should bring this campaign back! Have you heard about how bad America’s reading and retention skills are right now? Do kids even consider Pizza Hut is a treat these days? I digress… I’ll work on my tight ten about the Pizza Hut reading challenge later.
Reading in the summer has become even more euphoric for me since 2020, when I, like millions of people around the world, got pandemically bored and downloaded a little app called TikTok. Since then, my screentime has been completely out of control, and I’m definitely addicted to my phone. But the bright side is that it is also how I found my way to BookTok.
Ripped Bodice booksellers & their problematic faves: – Taylor recs Priest by Sierra Simone – Paola recs A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas – Ashley recs Oaths and Ommissions by Sav R Miller #fantasyromance #tabooromance #darkromance #romancebooktok #TheRippedBodiceLA #romancereaders #savrmiller #sierrasimone
BookTok is a magical place—a community of users and creators on TikTok just… talking about books!
There are subgenres: people talking about contemporary fiction, people talking about history and politics, people talking about fantasy romances. Every niche—the depths both over everything you could possibly imagine and things you probably haven’t ever considered.
BookTok also gives you recommendations. Now, I’m an avid reader of all genres—I’m in a book club that tries to read different perspectives and points of view, but my genre exploration began at a young age. I grew up reading everything from Little House on the Prairie to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Harry Potter. I’ve read the Dear America series and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve read Dealing with Dragons and Alanna: Song of the Lioness and beyond. These titles are relevant, because once I discovered BookTok (or should I say, when BookTok and the algorithm discovered ME), I was served some impeccable recommendations which harken back to my beloved childhood fantasies.
My gateway drug from BookTok was Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Since then, I’ve conquered The Cruel Prince, A Court of Thorns and Roses (better known by its acronym, ACOTAR), Serpent and Dove, Legendborn, Fourth Wing, and so many others.
If I’m not mainlining a new series every 2 or 3 months, my brain cannot function properly, and I find myself becoming more and more stressed and frustrated. I don’t savor these books—parsing out the delicacies of prose over weeks or months at a time—I devour them. I love to fill up on other worlds, nourishing my soul by meeting captivating characters and sweeping adventures. Sometimes I pick up a book that I can’t put down, and I am consumed by it, unable to think or talk about anything else.
I need these books to regulate my nervous system, keep me entertained, and heal my inner child: Did you know books could do all three of those things?
The connection, community, and sheer passion of creators and fans on BookTok also warms my heart. Since it’s cool to be a nerd now, people all over the world are embracing their weirdness and allowing space for discussion, nuance, and opinions of all kinds. BookTok is kind of like a virtual version of one of my favorite elementary school extracurriculars: Book Discussion Group.
thank you ali hazelwood for preparing me to follow theoretical vs experimental physics lovetheoretically alihazelwood (…….i did also take two semesters of honors astronomy & a class on genocide and warfare but that’s neither here nor there)
And if I might give a special shoutout to libraries: looking around at the book bans and wars on truth (and every other terrible and stupid thing happening in the world), libraries are one of the remaining bastions of information and resources, and we shouldn’t ever take them for granted. Also, the messages of my silly little fantasy romances are, in the words of Nicole Kidman, “perfect and powerful,” in the sense that they typically encourage their main characters to be their truest selves, reclaim their power, and take down and resist oppressive rulers and systems! Are we sensing a common theme here, people?
So do yourselves a favor: if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling TikTok or Reels, let yourself wander over to BookTok, and you might just be inspired to start a revolution and/or fall in love with reading all over again like I have. And if you have any recommendations, please do send them my way—either by the traditional methods, or by saying it out loud near my phone, so I can see a TikTok about it hours later, courtesy of the algorithm. BookTok, thank you for my summer reading for life!