How BookTok Can Help You Overcome Your Reading Phobia

As school is about to start, whether it’s the book list assigned by the teacher or the “big book” they want to read during the summer vacation, the students’ holiday progress bars are “unable to hold on”.

Recalling that when I was studying abroad, I once suffered from “reading phobia”. Unlike Chinese, which can read ten lines at a glance, all-English materials greatly reduce my reading efficiency, and each course has a huge reading list waiting for me. Every week before class, I would be thankful if I could finish half of the tasks assigned by the teacher.

But the book must be read and the flag must be set up, so it can’t really be a mess, right?

Take it easy Reading is not that scary

Fear of reading is really not a good phenomenon. I have been trying to analyze where my “phobia of reading” comes from so that I can cure it. I found that I always preset reading as an arduous task. I subconsciously feel that I must fully understand the entire content, and the content must be in-depth and high-quality before I can complete the reading. This is really too harsh a condition.

I talked about this topic with a friend who was studying for a Ph.D. abroad. It turned out that the university student also had similar problems – inefficient but huge amounts of reading frustrated her confidence. Whenever she couldn’t read anymore, she would always open TikTok to watch videos to escape for a while. . As a result, a friend accidentally came across a topic called #BookTok. One of the Indonesian guys shared his feelings about reading the best-selling novel “Where the Crickets Sing”, which aroused the friend’s curiosity, so he also Buy it and see it. Under the ups and downs of the plot, friends no longer worry about English, but are immersed in the story itself.

After reading one book, it seems to have inspired my friends to read in English. She benefits me, if you want to improve your English reading ability, you might as well scan BookTok, maybe you can find your “key”.

As the school year approaches, many young people on TikTok are sharing the books they want to take to school

How can a small topic on social media have such a big impact? Currently, BookTok’s topic views have reached 170 billion. Among the growth trends of TikTok topics in August, BookTok ranked first. Just swipe under this topic, and you can see all kinds of life related to reading-publishing book reviews, showing book lists, visiting bookstores, reading book fairs, open discussions on a certain book, etc. For example, under one of the topics called “books that left my jaw on the floor” (those books that I read on my knees), everyone posted a series of their favorite books one after another. You can often see people in the comment area because they blogged I bought a few of them on the Lord’s recommendation.

On BookTok, there are not only book reviews and thoughts sent by people, but also many people complaining about why a book is so thick. How long will it take me to read it?

I couldn’t help but be curious, and went to BookTok to browse. There were all kinds of books in it – romantic novels, professional textbooks, world famous books, etc. There is no hierarchy in reading here, as long as you like it, you can share it. Reading is not a complicated matter. It does not have to be limited to difficult and difficult texts, and it does not have to be understood.

On TikTok, you can share everything about reading

As long as you read what you like, you will always meet people with the same interests – this is actually the meaning of literature. There is such a scene in the movie “Rebel in the Rye”: JD Salinger, who had just become famous, was walking on the streets of New York when a strange boy stopped him. Salinger thought it was some kind of prank and had a look of despair on his face. Unexpectedly, the boy said: “You know, although we have never met, I read “The Catcher in the Rye” and it was so exciting.” “Holden is me, and I am the Holden you write about.”

It is such a rare thing to be able to catch a glimpse of a stranger reading one of your favorite novels on the street, or even bump into the author of the “love letter in your dream”, and it is also a wonderful moment that only reading can bring.

Fortunately, there are more and more gatherings in the name of reading. Young people can go to another city like chasing stars, just to listen to the symposium of their favorite writers, and they can also see, feel and share what they hear and think on BookTok—even if it is only 10 seconds—easy and simple Post the cover of your favorite book and add a concise comment.

Young people on BookTok will discuss various topics, such as whether they prefer e-books or paper books, or what does the oldest bookstore in a city look like?

Similar short reading videos are very popular on BookTok, and everyone is happy to find like-minded reading partners in the comment area, and have a lively chat together. As seen in the Nielsen 2022 report, 32% of young people aged 14-25 in the UK discovered books on TikTok/BookTok. Reading may not be a lonely thing.

In the final analysis, feeling and communicating are the charm of reading itself, rather than obsessing over completion. Isn’t it?

Everyone has their own “unspeakable secrets”

If I really wanted to count how many books I read in a year, apart from reference books, I would probably only have a few books left. For example, I have read two pages of the preface to “Ulysses” by my bedside, but that’s all. Difficult reading with difficulty in making progress can be said to be my “unspeakable secret” in reading. However, after a few rounds on BookTok, I found that this is the “unspeakable secret” of too many people – it turns out that I am not the only Chinese who can’t read. “Ulysses” cannot be read by foreigners who speak English from the novel!

But it’s not a big problem. American writer Ann Patchett enthusiastically shared the method of reading Joyce’s works on BookTok-if you can’t read “Ulysses”, just read “Dubliners”! This easy-to-read and compact collection of short stories can put us on the streets of Dublin in the 1920s and 1930s, and can also serve as an introduction to Joyce, a legendary author.

Ann Patchett often recommends books to young people on TikTok at her own independent bookstore

Maybe this suggestion seems a bit too simple, but planning the reading order properly is indeed a necessary “warm-up exercise” for difficult reading. So I turned around and took out the dusty copy of “Dubliners” from the bookcase. This was a lost book that had been abandoned because “Ulysses” was too difficult. It was indeed much smoother to read. I saw the heavy snow falling all over the dark night on the Isle of Arryn (the ancient name of Ireland), and the wine bottles swaying beside the bonfire, whispering of the long-standing depression.

Just because a book is difficult to read doesn’t mean we have to give up. “Reading shame” is not a big deal. Everyone adds fuel to the fire. Maybe what you lack is a partner who can accompany you to finish this reading marathon.

For example, Henry Eliot, a freelance editor at Penguin Publishing House, organized a reading group for “Clarissa” on BookTok. This is a tragic epistle novel of one million words published by the British writer Samuel Richardson in 1748, consisting of letters between different characters. From the first letter on January 10th to the last letter on December 18th, there were a total of 537 letters. At nearly 1,500 pages, many readers are put off by the long paragraphs. The unfamiliar writing style brought about by the writing time that is too far away is also an important reading difficulty.

Elliott keeps telling young people in the video: Finishing “Clarissa” is not an easy task, but we can do it together

Eliot’s video sorts out the letters in chronological order, takes readers back to the latest events in the book, and answers readers’ questions and comments. I haven’t read “Clarissa”, and I hadn’t even heard the title of the book before BookTok swiped it. But after watching a few videos, I can’t help but wonder what kind of book needs to be sorted out so carefully and for a long time. I continued to brush some related videos——

It turns out that readers of “Clarissa” also share their reading skills with each other. Some people will listen to the audiobook version while reading, and use voice to act out the emotions of the characters to assist in understanding the text; others will cut the heavy book, divide it into several volumes, carry it with them, and read it anytime, anywhere, so as not to be delayed due to the inconvenience of reading Reading progress.

In fact, it is normal to not be able to finish reading a book. In addition to “Ulysses”, I also have an “unspeakable secret” called “The Old Man and the Sea”. Even though I knew this book was not difficult to read and that it was worth reading, I just couldn’t get through it. When I was wandering on BookTok by chance, I came across a little brother who was walking by the lake and doing a book review for “The Old Man and the Sea”. It seems to be the longest novel you have read in your life.” What kind of text can make people feel this way, I picked up “The Old Man and the Sea” again, and once again tried to enter Hemingway’s world.

Don’t take reading “too seriously” , to truly read

Who would have thought that the reason why young people today read books is because they watched a short video. In the relaxed atmosphere of BookTok, my “phobia of reading” seems to have been alleviated. It eliminated the complexity of reading in my heart, and I began to “untie” my reading. Reading a book no longer requires you to set goals, carry out tasks, or require yourself to read enough in a day. These seemingly serious and strenuous requirements only add burden to yourself. Once you fail to complete them, you will become anxious and unable to continue reading.

I believe that most people will have a similar experience to me. Because they think reading is too important, they start to “fear reading”. When I try to change my thinking, I read the categories I am interested in, and put them aside when I see the difficult ones. If I change my mind and scroll through BookTok, I will definitely meet people who share the same problem with me, which can inspire the courage to continue reading. . Yes, reading can actually be as simple as watching videos.

Nowadays, reading has become something within reach. You can see young people reading on the New York subway on TikTok, or you can meet college students reading novels on their mobile phones on the Beijing subway. There are more and more reading apps with rich functions, serious or funny reading bloggers, and various reading communities that bring together all kinds of like-minded people, etc., making the “fragmented” and “superficial” network that once seemed to be in opposition, and Readings that seemed to need to be “taken seriously” are getting better and better integrated.

In the short video era, there are thousands of postures in reading. It doesn’t matter whether you make a cup of tea and enjoy a leisurely afternoon with a book, or stay up all night with a professional book to prepare for the exam, or turn on your phone to read book reviews anytime and anywhere… Whether it’s the fragrance of ink or the flash of fluorescence, Those are the moments when knowledge illuminates life and the endless joy that reading brings to people.

Perhaps what I fear is not reading itself, but the sense of mission and class that reading adds to my heart. When I really focus on the book instead of the light that surrounds it, these added values ​​are naturally forgotten, and I am no longer afraid. So, I actually started reading.

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