The Student News Site of Xaverian College


The Student News Site of Xaverian College


The Student News Site of Xaverian College


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March 14, 2022

A reading renaissance: BookTok’s impact on youth literature engagement and the evolution of chick lit

Eva Burrows

In an age where entertainment has become digitalised has reading become a dying hobby? The National Literacy Trust has found that fewer than 28.0% of children and young people said that they read daily in 2023 and only 2 in 5 enjoyed it. However, one app is helping increase the number of teenagers getting into literature through the online community on Book Tok. TikTok has seen a rise in reading especially within the romance genre and chick-lit. With this popularity comes criticism, as the books are seen as inferior to other genres. Is the acceptance of Book Tok the key to more well-read youth?

Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Emily Henry are just a few authors who have witnessed mass success from BookTok with Colleen Hoover contributing 48% of print unit sales in 2023 according to. Many consider Book Tok to be its category. Bookstores, like Waterstones, sell them together, yet BookTok includes romance, chick lit, fantasy, and YA novels. Romance novels, as of 2022, have become the highest-selling genre of fiction amassing over 1.15 billion pounds. But is still widely overlooked by critics with only 5 Booker prizes being awarded to novels within romance. Its popularity does reinforce itself in BookTok with #chicklit withholding 10.5 million views and #romcombooks with 310 million.

Chick lit has had its valid criticisms concerning the images of women’s lives and the identities it portrays. Research done by Virginia Tech found that when reading about a protagonist who was a ‘slim heroine’ female students’ body image declined and they found themselves less attractive. Additionally head of English literature at Xaverian, Miss Mason said that: “chick flick novels and films tend to culminate in unrealistic outcomes” creating “a ‘happy ending’ paradox.” On the other hand, she does believe that Romance: “will always be considered an “important” facet of literature,” as we can see through its continued popularity.

Romantic literature and chick lit is a female-led industry with 82% of readers being women. This could be the cause of their disregard for awards and distinction. This can be seen in the unnecessary hate that is held against established authors within BookTok. #colleenhooverslander garners over over49.2 million views but includes comments stating, “If colleen hover has no haters it bc I’m dead” and “CH writes books for people who haven’t read a book since required reading in high school English class.”

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Despite this negativity, I do not think it negates the positive impact that BookTok is having on a generation of young people who could have had a declining interest in reading. Polls said 59% of 2000 16-25 said that BookTok helped them discover a passion for reading. The reading of Chick Lit and romance whether it be from BookTok or not, is benefitting a new generation of readers and the publishing industry. I would like to see this cause a shift in the genre’s reputation and the awards it receives. If you want to get into BookTok yourself, I recommend titles like The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren and Beach Read by Emily Henry.

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  • J

    James GibbonsJan 25, 2024 at 6:27 am

    Any genre of literature or platform that encourages reading amongst young people should be celebrated!

  • V

    Victoria MoranJan 25, 2024 at 6:26 am

    Really interesting article. I admit, I have enjoyed many of the books I have found through BookTok!

  • A

    Aisha AsgharJan 25, 2024 at 6:19 am

    I 100% agree. As someone who has been influenced by book tok it’s allowed me to improve my literary skills and read books I probably would’ve never picked up before. This was really interesting to read about especially when it comes to the effects on body image for chick lit texts.

  • B

    Belle BridgettJan 24, 2024 at 6:59 am

    Intriguing and culturally relevant! Enjoyable read that covered all points.

  • M

    Molly LoomsJan 24, 2024 at 6:37 am

    This is interesting to read as it is easy to notice the influence BookTok has had within schools.