A novel approach to reading with BookTok

Book Tok members at First NightBookTok at FIU set up their table at this fall’s First Night. | Photo Courtesy of Jorge Sanchez

Natalie Gutierrez  | Staff Writer

BookTok at FIU offers a space to escape into literary worlds for aspiring and avid readers. 

The term “BookTok” originated in 2020 amidst the pandemic. It is a TikTok subculture in which users give book recommendations and reviews. 

This social media phenomenon has renewed interest in reading and increased book sales, which prompted the creation of the BookTok club at FIU. 

President Natalie Fraioli is a senior pursuing a hospitality and tourism major. She is committed to getting more people to read. Fraioli also likes having the opportunity to facilitate fruitful discussions. 

“At the end of the day, we are not trying to change the world. We’re trying to make everyone’s lives a little better by reading these books,” said Fraioli. 

Fraioli shared her thoughts on what makes reading appealing to her, and what the club accomplishes for students.

“It’s really about escapism. There is something so powerful about not having to sit through our world right now, which can be awful. The experience is almost stronger than television or shows,” said Fraioli. 

Fraioli also comments on the intention behind each book selection. 

“Our goal is to get people back into reading. Another goal that is important to us is considering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. All of our picks have some kind of [DEI]. We want our readers to find themselves in these books. We want them to feel emotions when they read,” said Fraioli. 

Some of the past selections include Alice Feeney’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, Carissa Broadbent’s “Daughter of No Worlds”, and Elle Kennedy’s “The Deal”. 

However, the club adds a fun twist to the typical book club structure. 

“We first introduce ourselves and then give a summary. We’ll rate the book and put it up on Goodreads. Afterward, we play a game inspired by the book or do activities based on the book, like paint tote bags, make bookmarks, or play Book Jeopardy,” said Fraioli. 

In addition, because she is passionate about fundraising and supporting non-profits, Fraioli seeks out opportunities for the club to engage in community service. 

The club hosted a Book Drive in the fall of 2022. More than 150 books were collected from members, which were then donated to the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation

“I think it always feels good to give back. Again, it is about sharing these books. We’re all fortunate enough to afford these books,” said Fraioli. 

Elijah Emmanuel, a senior English major and member of the club since last fall, expresses his enjoyment of the readings.

“So far, my experience has been amazing. What I enjoy about it is that you read books that you probably wouldn’t pick up on your own. The club has introduced me to different genres,” said Emmanuel. 

Because Emmanuel gravitated toward films and series, he explained that he was not much of a reader prior. Now, he enjoys listening to other members and their unique perspectives on each text.

“What got me back into reading was the fact that I loved the Netflix show ‘Tiny Pretty Things. I realized that it was based on a two-series book and that’s when I fell in love with reading again. I’ve been reading since,” said Emmanuel. 

Emmanuel further shared what he looks forward to in the club’s selected readings this semester.

“This semester, I feel excited. When the choices for the books came out, the one that I really wanted to read was ‘One True Loves’. I am interested to see how she dives into this book. The craft of writing is amazing,”  said Emmanuel. 

This month, the selections are “One True Loves” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and “The Long Game: A Novel” by Elena Armas. During their next meeting, the club will screen the film adaptation of “One True Loves”. 

“I feel like people should join because you can view the world of someone else and bounce off your opinions and contrast them with others,” said Emmanuel. 

“Not everyone reads a book the same way.” 

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