If the internet was a city, TikTok is a funhouse of trick mirrors and trap doors. It reflects your interests back to you until you are forced deeper and deeper into its content. A maze of memes, if you will. However, traverse its labyrinthine corridors for long enough, you will come across a quiet corner of this funhouse. It’s gloomily lit, and, in accordance with the dark academia lore from which sprung, it has a gothic arch, a winged armchair and some trailing ivy. Inexplicably, ‘Heathcliff’ by Kate Bush is playing. Like all great reading nooks, it has been curated for your reading (and viewing) pleasure. Take a seat, dust off a book - you have entered the hallowed halls of BookTok.
‘Hallowed’ is the appropriate term, as BookTok has been almost unanimously lauded, (see picture below), as the last ‘wholesome’ place on the internet, giving it a somewhat sacred status amongst fandoms. But it’s not just the wholesome power that makes BookTok so fascinating. BookTok took off around the same time as the pandemic, at least partly driven by people being confined to their homes and their bookcases for entertainment. Two years on, it is now in the running to become ‘book club 2.0’ for Gen Y and Z. For many users it performs an important social function, providing a space to find friends with similar interests and hobbies. The majority of its users are women, preoccupied with women’s issues. Consequently, the videos from BookTok are tiny artefacts that can map the development of populist feminism and demonstrate how terms such as ‘the female gaze’ can enter and inform mainstream debates.