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Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

Books are back, and with them, BookTok

Houston Sandford
Librarian Mrs. Eisenstein poses with her display of BookTok recommendations.

As I sat taking in the last page of The Goldfinch, a novel by Donna Tartt, enraptured by the beautiful prose, I couldn’t help but think I might never have read it had I not happened upon a 30-second book review on the social media app TikTok.

The Goldfinch is just one of the many books that have been promoted under the TikTok hashtag “BookTok”—books that have amassed millions of readers and garnered awards and bestseller titles. The aforementioned novel is one of many of these works of literature to have been adapted into a film.

BookTok, a community found on the app TikTok dedicated to book review and discussion, is one of many reasons for the evident resurgence of books in the past few years.

“I like to think that … there is a lot more reading going on, and I think that’s a really great thing,” FSHA Library Advisory Board member Leigh Weeks ‘24 said. “If you see me on my phone, I’m most likely reading an e-book, and I feel like electronic books like Kindle have allowed people to read more and in more spaces. There’s definitely an uptick in reading.”

English teacher Dr. Amara Gero credits technology with this increase in reading.

“There are ways in which technology can encourage young people to read,” Dr. Gero said. “It seems like there are these digital book clubs or groups that organically are forming around texts.”

The BookTok hashtag was established in 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to PBS, a mere year later, sales of adult fiction promoted by BookTok increased by 25%.

With new additions to the FSHA library and the enterprising efforts of the Library Advisory Board cocurricular and new student-run book clubs, the Hill has been a part of this reading comeback.

Every month, the library is decked with new book displays, many of which are BookTok-inspired, like the most recent one, “A Blind Date with a Book.” For librarian Mrs. Katherine Eisenstein, updating the space with a familiar feeling is important to fostering a supportive and robust learning environment.

“The love of reading is really what I want to promote,” Mrs. Eisenstein said. “I think people have more interest if it’s relating to things that are happening in their daily lives, so if it’s Christmas time and you see a Christmas book, you’ll be like, ‘I want to read this’ … and I try to make it fun in here for all of the students.”

Mrs. Eisenstein observed an influx of participation in the library in the past few years. There was an increase in book check-outs at FSHA’s library from 973 books in the 2022-2022 school year to 1,119 books in the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year.

Mrs. Eisenstein also noted the importance of the Library Advisory Board, which plays an integral role in representing the student body. The Library Advisory Board is responsible for curating new content to be added to the library and planning activities hosted by the library.

The Library Advisory Board and Mrs. Eisenstein consider several factors when selecting literature for the library, one of them being relevance, which led them to select BookTok-sourced books this past year.

Weeks remarked on the need for timely library content.

“It is always important to keep your libraries up to date because reading is constantly changing, especially the landscape of how we read. As it’s become more and more political, it’s more and more important to keep your libraries up to date, because it keeps you in the loop. It allows us to continue educating ourselves when it comes to what people want to read, and what people learn from reading,” Weeks said.

Another primary concern of Mrs. Eisenstein and the Library Advisory Board is inclusion. In the wake of this resurgence of reading brought on by BookTok, readers have seen many benefits, such as increasing discussions on TikTok and beyond about diversity in the characters and themes presented in literature.

Dr. Gero commented on the significance of representation in the literature we consume.

“When there are narratives and texts that present perspectives that historically have been marginalized or not given a voice and they come into the more popular world, I think it … sheds a light on that experience or makes us aware that it’s an important part of our culture and our world even if we ourselves are not individually aware of it or familiar with it,” Dr. Gero said.

In addition to a newfound commitment to diversity in literature, this upturn in book sales coincides with an all-time high book ban rate in the US. Perhaps readers are not aware that some of the books that they read are prohibited in schools across the country.

“As a librarian, I don’t think that anything should be banned because it’s important for everybody to have equal access to information,” Mrs. Eisenstein said.

Ultimately, BookTok is important not only because of its fiscal and cultural impact but because of its potential to counteract the banning of books. The more books we read, the less likely these narratives are to be undermined or forgotten. After all, a book found in a 30-second book review is capable of changing perspectives; I know one changed mine.

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About the Contributor
Tyler Frey
Tyler Frey, Associate Editor
Tyler Frey '25 is an associate editor of the Veritas Shield, returning for her second year on the paper. Being a part of The Shield serves as a creative outlet for her to express her passion for writing, but also as a learning experience as she navigates journalism. On campus, Tyler is also involved in the speech and debate team, theater, the academic decathlon team, Ambassadors and several clubs. In her free time, Tyler enjoys writing, reading, playing the guitar and spending time with friends and family.

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