Wednesday, July 6, 2022

How students are using social media to rekindle their love for reading

January 15, 2022

Gone are the days where it’s considered cool to brag about how you haven’t picked up a book since you read "Romeo and Juliet" in high school. With a little help from social media, being a bookworm is officially back in style.

GoodReads, an app dedicated to book reviewing, is a key component of the recent trend on social media. It allows you to share your thoughts on books, like and comment on your friends’ activity and set a goal for the number of books you want to read in a year. 

Psychology junior Gabrielle Grace said it’s fun to see the goals that her friends set for themselves.

“It's kind of like good peer pressure,” Grace said. “Your friends are reading so you're like, ‘I might as well read tonight too’.”

Grace said that she’s been seeing more people start posting about books on social media, and in this sense, reading appears to be “coming back.”

The idea of reading for pleasure might still seem foreign for a lot of college students, especially when their planners are filled to the brim with dense textbook reading assignments. International relations and comparative cultures and politics sophomore Millie Nevelos said that people sharing their reading habits on social media has caused others to challenge how they regard books.

“A lot of people think that books are only a certain way, they often think about them in terms of like school books or something rather than something they could enjoy,” Nevelos said.

Nevelos said she shared a photo of her GoodReads stats from the end of 2021 on Instagram, which included how many books she read. Several of her friends interacted with this post and started reading as well. 

“I think (the app) engages me in my reading a bit more because seeing my other friends read makes me want to read just as much,” Nevelos said.

While the app’s tallying of completed books can bring out a competitive edge in some, others use it as a type of virtual book club in order to get more out of their reading experience. Social relations and policy and education sophomore Ellie Friedman said that the app’s social aspects have influenced how and what she reads.

“I'm studying to be a teacher, so part of the reading and learning experience for me is talking about books and working through them with other people,” Friedman said. “Being able to have these apps and know what my friends are reading or even what strangers are reading and seeing their reactions to them definitely motivates me and influences when I read and what I read.”

Avid readers have also found ways to build a community on social media apps that are not explicitly centered around reading. TikTok users have generated a subcommunity under the hashtag “#BookTok”, dedicated to reading and reviewing books. 

“Pretty much my entire ‘for you’ page is book recommendations,” Friedman said. “So that's been really helpful because I see what other people like and if they have a similar taste in books.”

Nevelos is also apart of ‘#BookTok’ and she said the community has helped her pull herself out of “reading slumps.” Some creators make videos where they reenact a scene from a book — a tactic that interests her enough to want to pick up a new book.

“I think it's made me interact a lot more and oftentimes with genres I wouldn't think of reading,” Nevelos said.

As far as social media trends go, one that inspires college students to stick their nose in a novel again is likely among the most wholesome. 

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