Like many others, I downloaded TikTok during the pandemic. I'd seen the headlines touting its uncanny ability to personalize the content users see and was wary of getting sucked into another social media app. But I was teaching a class on digital media and in the middle of planning a dissertation on the relationship between contemporary literature and digital culture. I'd read articles about BookTok and wanted to experience it for myself. Luckily for me, until it has gathered data about your viewing habits, TikTok is quite bad at predicting the kinds of videos you want to watch. As part of setting up a new account, users are invited to select particular categories of interest, like pets, travel, or sports. The videos new users see are based primarily on those initial interest categories, as well as language setting, device type, and location. As you use TikTok, it gathers data based on how you interact with its content, including who you follow, which videos you like, what hashtags and sounds you search for, and how long you spend watching a video before scrolling away.1 This data determines what users see in their "For You" feeds.

When I first searched for #BookTok, what came up was largely what I expected: videos commiserating about "that moment" in the latest Colleen Hoover release, slow pans of picturesque libraries, and innumerable videos full of book recommendations. Within the first few minutes of scrolling, I stumbled on something that took me by surprise. In this video, a young woman describes participating in the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge and proceeds to review the latest books she's completed for it.2 First, she holds up Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, describing how she "DNF"-ed (did not finish) it after 300 pages because the writing and topic made for difficult reading. Next, she holds up an iPad with Henry James's "The Art of Fiction" on the screen, describing it as "a quick essay" and an easy read. I was surprised that her reviews focused on the speed and ease of the reading experience but told viewers little about the content of the books. After watching many similar videos, I've learned this emphasis is common on BookTok. Curiosity piqued, I watched as she went on to describe how she quickly put down the next text, The Archidamian War by Donald Kagan, because "it honestly reads as a study guide that you're supposed to follow when learning about the Peloponnesian War in class." I haven't read Kagan's book; in fact, I hadn't even heard of it before watching this TikTok video, but the book seems, based on its heft and cover alone, to deliver on what its paratext promises: it is a comprehensive work of classical history, intended for academic readers. After a Google search for "donald kagan the archidamian war," I learned that it is the second volume in a four-part history of the Peloponnesian War, published in 1974 by Cornell University Press. The few Goodreads reviews of the book describe it as necessary if exhaustively detailed reading for those with an avid interest in classical history. My search for information on Kagan's book also offered evidence that this one TikTok user is not the only one picking it up as part of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge: I found "the art of fiction" at the top of Google's list of related searches. I repeated this search on a private browser window to ensure that my research into the challenge was not biasing my results, but Google continued to suggest that those searching for Kagan's book might also be interested in James's essay. To the best of my knowledge, these two texts have nothing in common apart from the reading challenge. Google's search results index the trace of this niche cultural phenomenon, its results appearing as either uncanny success or nonsensical failure depending on who's searching and why.

As there is no way to be a neutral observer on TikTok, my experience with the platform is necessary context for my discussion of it. If by "merely by observing the digital book world, we are ineluctably influencing it," as Simone Murray has suggested, scholars must be transparent about what, exactly, our methods of observation entail.3 I found all of the videos referenced in this piece through searching for hashtags rather than relying on my feed, and sorted results by "most liked" rather than "relevance" to try to minimize the impact of TikTok's algorithm on my argument.4 Regardless, how I used TikTok while doing the research for this piece undoubtedly shaped my perception of it.

BookTok describes a community of readers on TikTok, one that centers around the hashtag #booktok but consists of many overlapping niches, each of which has their own hashtags, trends, challenges, and approaches to books. These microcommunities form around different genres, different relationships to books booksellers, teachers, and librarians all have a presence on the platform different countries, different vibes (#cozybooktok), different reading goals, and more. Rather than try to account for BookTok writ large, a task made difficult not only by its size and diversity, but also by the ways that TikTok's hyper-personalization limits how widely any one user can observe the community's formation, I look at one case study that shows how reading today is caught up in cultural trends, both new and old, that cut across different forms of media. It shows how contemporary reading practices are shaped by platforms like BookTok while still responding to and reworking older images of bookishness and understandings of literary value.

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge has been bouncing around the internet since 2014 and has gained renewed popularity on BookTok. To complete the challenge, participants read "all" the books mentioned in Gilmore Girls (2000-2007): anywhere from roughly 350 to 500 books depending on the list readers follow. The lists are contested: some include titles that the show's characters consume via film adaptation, some feature all the books shown on screen, and still others feature only the books that viewers actually see Rory read.5 Regardless of the list participants follow, the challenge features a relatively conservative selection of titles commonly found in high school English classrooms in the early 2000s. Given its overlap with the canon, the Rory Gilmore reading list is not particularly novel. Readers could choose nearly any other list of "classics everyone should read" and find many of the same titles listed. What does the Rory Gilmore framing add to an otherwise generic list of classic literature? What are participants hoping to gain from completing the challenge? How do those goals shape the ways that they approach and interpret these texts? And what can the challenge show us about the impacts of algorithmic culture on literature in all its forms, from ebook to paperback?6

While it makes for an amusing case study, the challenge also illustrates the transmedia nature of the contemporary literary sphere: participants choose books based on TikTok videos that draw from a list of titles found on a blog that, in turn, draws from a TV show that first aired twenty years ago and today can be found on subscription streaming platforms. Books are often popularly imagined as a respite from the clutter and speed of digital media, but as this challenge shows, the relationship between the two is far more complex. "Old and new media forms," Jessica Pressman argues, "operate in complex loops of recursive influence rather than in a linear 'this will kill that' model."7 Florian Cramer similarly develops the term "post-digital" to describe the work of his students, young artists who choose their medium based on their project rather than defaulting to the latest technology. For Cramer, the post-digital names a period in which the digital has become banal, resulting in art that mixes digital and analog mediums, methods, and aesthetics. Both Pressman and Cramer offer theoretical frameworks that enable us to conceptualize the relationship between books and digital media as nonlinear and recursive, frameworks needed to understand how BookTok and other bookish communities on social media impact the broader landscape of contemporary literature.

As a paraliterary community, BookTok shapes the ways its participants approach books and reading. It is an educational space outside the confines of the traditional classroom, with users both modeling and, at times, explicitly instructing their audiences in ways of discussing, evaluating, annotating, and interpreting texts. It is full of "how to" videos on a wide range of topics, from how to become a reader to how to relax a book spine. It is also a pedagogical space, with videos that operate on a meta-discursive level as creators share strategies for introducing friends to books or discussing the implications of internal BookTok debates. These internal debates often touch on serious topics ranging from literary value (what makes something worth reading?) to racism in the American publishing industry. Just as conversations on BookTok are shaped by the rest of the literary sphere, its influence stretches beyond the app itself, molding a reading public in its wake. As libraries and bookstores create displays promoting BookTok bestsellers and TikTok videos are cross-posted on other social media sites and discussed on blogs and podcasts, the modes of reading popular on the platform become diffused throughout the broader literary sphere.8 The fact that the book is just one form in which written narrative circulates enables all readers, professional and amateur alike, to think in more precise terms about what the experience of reading entails. Many of these conversations are already taking place on platforms like BookTok and Bookstagram, where communities of readers develop a shared vocabulary for discussing how and why they read.

Importantly, TikTok is a social media platform, not a civic or educational institution. Like other platforms, from Uber to Google to AirBnB, it is run by a corporation that presents its product as an "empty space" to facilitate interactions between advertisers, consumers, and individuals who have something they want to "share," be that an unused apartment or short, silly videos.9 While platforms often present themselves as a free space for sharing content, they gather, recombine and repurpose users' data, which serves in many cases as their primary source of profit. Social media sites in particular position themselves as creating a new public sphere, an accessible forum for public life and conversation. The reality, of course, is messier, as social media simultaneously facilitates both community building and a culture of surveillance.10 While the language of "platform" appears to designate a neutral, empty space, in fact these companies have "control and governance over the rules of the game": as intermediaries, platforms have a direct hand in shaping the interactions that they facilitate.11 Social media sites shape user interactions directly, via content moderation policies, and indirectly, as platform-specific features reward particular kinds of content and modes of engagement.

While content made for one social media platform increasingly shows up on others, online media is nonetheless shaped by the features of the platform it is made on and initially intended for. TikTok's "For You" algorithm and the video editing features it makes available to creators shape its content in distinctive ways. The kinds of content and modes of reception that TikTok's algorithm promotes parallel the modes of reading and bookishness popular on BookTok. This is not a matter of a direct causal relationship, with TikTok's algorithm determining how its users read. Instead, platform-specific features influence the ways that communities of readers on social media engage with literature, even in the form of a physical book.

TikTok has billed itself and its algorithm as able to predict what users want to see, leaving only a "narrow margin" for showing users content they're not interested in.12 This "hyper-personalization" creates a tight loop that carries a "high cost when it comes to content diversity."13 TikTok is more likely to show users content that feels repetitive than risk showing them many videos that lie outside their demonstrated interests.14 This facet of TikTok's design shapes its impact on literary culture: the list of viral books on BookTok is small, and once a book goes viral, its popularity persists.15 Looking at the American Booksellers Association's Indie Bestsellers trade paperback list in November 2022, ten of the fifteen listed are BookTok books, five of which have been on the list for over a year.16 Repetitive recommendations happen within microcommunities on BookTok as well. While classics wouldn't count as BookTok bestsellers, certain titles are repeatedly recommended, albeit on a smaller scale. If the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge simultaneously repurposes and reinforces the canon, TikTok's algorithm narrows this list of popular classics even further. Plenty of users recommend titles that fall outside of the list of classics that show up most frequently, just as plenty of users recommend contemporary novels by authors other than Colleen Hoover or Sarah J. Maas.17 However, the narrow loop created by TikTok's algorithm results in the outsized visibility of a few select authors and titles.

TikTok's video format means that even more than bookish communities on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, BookTok relies on the physical qualities of the book. Books are put into motion as users riffle through the pages of a paperback, show off their annotations, or create stop-motion animations of their "tbr" (to be read) piles as they grow and shrink over the course of the year. While there aren't many of TikTok's infamous dances on BookTok, the videos are nonetheless choreographed, featuring books instead of bodies. Many recommendation videos have a static block of text overlaid on top of a video where the user reveals each cover in time with the music, fanning out books, pulling them off the top of a stack or flipping them over one at a time. Other users emphasize the materiality of books even more overtly, explaining why books smell, demonstrating bookbinding techniques, or describing why some paperbacks are floppier than others. This interest in the physicality of books dovetails with the broader culture of influencer advertising. Books become not just objects in and of themselves, but a trendy accessory, as early releases and book merch signal a certain kind of insider status in the world of contemporary literary culture.

"No one loves books like Rory Gilmore"18

The pilot episode of Gilmore Girls cements Rory's identity as a reader, from her love of the classics she wonders whether Moby-Dick is too cliche a choice for her "first Melville" to her ability to tune out the world when absorbed in a book. She's always carrying a stack of books. In the TikTok caption I've chosen as a heading above, Warner Brothers seems to be suggesting that "no one loves books" as much as "Rory Gilmore." I want to focus, though, on the qualities attached to her love for books and her identity as a reader in hopes of better understanding the impetus behind the reading challenge. What does it mean to want to read like Rory?

According to the challenge, reading like Rory means, more or less, reading the classics. The list for the challenge adheres closely to the conventional Western literary canon, featuring books by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Henry James, and Mark Twain, as well as contemporary literary fiction by authors like Ian McEwan, Ann Patchett, Isabel Allende, and Jonathan Lethem. There are some unexpected additions Rick Steves's Europe Through the Back Door, Milton Friedman's A Monetary History of the United States, Henry Robert's Robert's Rules of Order, and Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers but most of the names are exactly who one would expect to find on a high school English syllabus from the early 2000s.19 Some of the lists go so far as to include the Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, and they also include less read works by canonical authors. However, while the challenge essentially reproduces the canon, the methods its readers employ and the reasons they have for reading differ from dominant academic approaches to these texts.

There is an enormous overlap between Rory Gilmore's presence on BookTok and discussions of classic literature, an overlap that extends beyond the challenge itself. Many videos recommending classic books use audio clips from Gilmore Girls or include hashtags referencing Rory even if they don't mention the challenge or reference the show anywhere else in the post. In addition, users participating in the reading challenge post videos about classic literature that don't mention Rory, carrying over features of the reading challenge into BookTok's broader discussion of the classics. A genre of videos offering "easy classics" or "classics for beginners" is one place where this influence is particularly visible. The recommendations in these videos feature a repetitive list of authors and titles that overlaps significantly with the reading challenge: anything by Jane Austen, The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Catcher in the Rye are particularly popular. And like the young woman reviewing Kagan's The Archidamian War, videos in this genre usually focus on the length and difficulty of the reading experience in their recommendations rather than discussing the plot or characters. In the comments, users offer up their own suggestions for easy classics, but they also often push back on the particular titles featured in the post. Some describe finding the language of these books challenging including some who identify themselves as non-native English speakers and others who say that despite being native English speakers, they still found them difficult to read. Others describe having a hard time following the plot. However, almost none question the premise of the "easy classics" genre itself: that length and difficulty are key qualities to consider when picking out a new book.

Of course, in the context of a challenge that involves reading upwards of 400 books, caring about how fast you can get through a book makes sense. Along with the somewhat arbitrary nature of the books on the list, many of which Rory is never actually shown reading, the sheer number of books included in the challenge remains hard for me to comprehend. I've come to realize that my confusion stems in no small part from the fact that I am a mood reader, a term I learned through a series of interviews I've conducted with Bookstagram users, many of whom are also on BookTok.20 Mood readers choose books based on what they feel like reading at any given moment rather than picking up what's next on their "tbr" list. I've been a mood reader since I was a child, especially when reading for pleasure, and this approach has been reinforced by the ubiquity of reading lists in academia. Signing up to voluntarily follow a reading list with hundreds of entries sounds like work to me, not leisure, a factor that certainly influences my reaction to the reading challenge. In many discussions of reading in literary studies, reading practices are conflated with interpretative practices, erasing differences in the ways people move through a text or process it. In contrast, through concepts like "mood reader," BookTok and other online communities of readers develop their own vocabulary for describing the diversity of practices that fall under the title of reading.

The length of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge and, in general, the lengthy "tbr" lists that platforms like Goodreads make possible also illustrates how the push to track, quantify, and optimize every aspect of life shapes reading practices. Many readers keep detailed lists of books they've completed, tracking book length, genre, author, and more in Goodreads, Storygraph, or even Excel.21 Many BookTok users set yearly reading goals. Not all focus on the quantity of books some set goals related to diversifying their reading, reading in a particular format (physical books, audiobooks, etc.), or reading new genres. While it is impossible to know whether the emphasis on short and easy reads is tied to this goal-oriented approach to reading for all users, the connection certainly exists for some. Scrolling through BookTok, I was easily able to find examples: a user recommending "fast paced and easy to read books to help you get ahead of your reading goal," or another with "books under 300 pages to help you reach your goal." This emphasis on short and easy classics shows up again and again in videos from users completing the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, but it isn't explained by the context of the show itself. Rory's bookishness manifests as lugging massive stacks of books and reading for hours on end. Instead, this element of the challenge seems to draw on a broader cultural push to use data to increase productivity and optimize every element of the self. Technology can't track readers' engagement with print books directly, but tools like Storygraph and Goodreads enable users to turn their reading into data. While using books and reading as tools for self-transformation is an old practice, as Beth Blum's work on what she terms the "self-help hermeneutic" shows, recording one's reading as data represents a new iteration of these practices made possible by digital technologies.22

Reading like Rory shapes not only what, but how participants read, encouraging them to get lost in their books. In the pilot episode, Dean, a new student at Stars Hollow High, tells Rory he's interested in her not only because she's "nice to look at" but also because of her "unbelievable concentration." He recounts to Rory how the previous week, she'd been sitting under a tree reading Madame Bovary, when "two guys were tossing around a ball and one guy nailed the other right in the face . . . it was a mess, blood everywhere . . . the place was in chaos . . . and you just sat there and read. You never even looked up." He recalls thinking "I have never seen anyone read so intensely before in my entire life. I have to meet that girl."23 While they are not always explicitly present in the show itself, BookTok's concerns about digital media necessarily shape the nostalgic ideal of "reading like Rory" in the present. Today, immersing oneself in the world of a novel is seen as a virtuous pursuit, especially when compared to the other kinds of media one could find oneself absorbed in (binge-watching TV, for instance, or scrolling endlessly on TikTok).24

Like the narrow list of titles perpetually advanced by TikTok's algorithm, the emphasis on immersive reading shows how modes of reading promoted by these conversations mirror modes of engagement with TikTok content more broadly. In contrast to streaming TV or reading novels, being immersed in TikTok is less about being engrossed by the content and more about being immersed in the platform itself, lost in its unending scroll. Similarly, BookTok promotes immersion as a way of interacting with a book, encouraging users to get lost in it. The platform has over a million videos sharing "books that made me forget I was reading."25 These videos imply that certain textual qualities make a book more or less conducive to an immersive reading experience, and unquestioningly promote the value of that immersion. However, the recommendations usually come with no further explanation, often showing a series of books, one after another, with no commentary other than the static title text. There are certainly examples of users including more detailed reviews in the video or the captions, but the majority of users participating in this trend do not define the category further. And even if we limit ourselves to a single user's recommendations, there is often no obvious stylistic affinity between the books that constitute this category. One illustrative example from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, now taken down, cited The Picture of Dorian Gray, Pride and Prejudice, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451 in a list of "books that let me forget I was reading."26 Other lists focus on dramatically different genres, from contemporary Romance to Science Fiction. Despite the implied idea that there is something inherent in these particular texts that promotes an immersive reading experience, the eclectic and even contradictory nature of the books that fall into this category end up portraying immersion as determined by the reader themselves rather than by particular characteristics of a text.

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge takes immersion one step further, encouraging participants to immerse themselves in Rory's world through her reading. Though there's no easy way to account for why each individual reader is completing the challenge, reading what Rory reads seems for many to be an attempt to emulate her bookish persona. In her work on bookishness, Jessica Pressman defines it as "creative acts that engage the physicality of the book within a digital culture," tracing the ways bookishness surfaces in many different forms, from distinctive literary modes to bookwork (sculptural art made out of books) to merchandise, such as Pride and Prejudice leggings or a laptop cover made to look like a book.27 As "an identity derived from a physical nearness to books, not just the 'reading' of them in the conventional sense," bookishness saturates the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.28 Participants craft a readerly identity for themselves through the content that they post, which inevitably given the visual nature of these social media platforms emphasizes the materiality of books.

The challenge replicates dominant images of bookishness in popular culture, as well as who gets to claim it. Rory represents a specific paradigm of bookishness: an auto-didactic young white woman with the time, lack of responsibilities, and focus to read for hours on end. Of course, as Pressman, Leah Price, Christina Lupton, and others studying historical and contemporary readers remind us, the kind of "serious, silent, solitary cover-to-cover reading" that Rory exemplifies, "has never been more than one of many uses to which print had been put."29 As in its treatment of the canon, where what participants read is less interesting than how and why they read, the form of bookishness that the challenge promotes is less interesting than what participants do to achieve it. Many participants in the reading challenge adopt, self-consciously or not, Rory's "Downtown Girl" aesthetic, with some explicitly tagging their videos #downtowngirl and #rorygilmoreaesthetic.30 Like Cottagecore or Dark Academia,31 its better known counterparts, the Downtown Girl aesthetic is a form of personal style that exceeds fashion choices, extending to one's taste in media and one's hobbies. It involves wearing oversized cabled sweaters, writing poetry, "reading modern and classic literature and leaving notes in the margins," "dancing in the kitchen," and "shopping for vintage records."32 With mentions of vintage records and annotating old books, the aesthetic evokes a post-digital nostalgia through its invocation of analog media forms, ironically routed first through a TV show and then through TikTok. Along with sepia-toned filters, cozy sweaters, and steaming mugs, the Rory Gilmore corner of BookTok treats books as another accessory, a prop in the cultivation of a particular persona. In ironic contrast to the ideal of reading as immersion, where the act of reading disappears from conscious view, what matters here is being seen reading and annotating, even being seen immersed in a book. While attempts to mimic Rory's bookishness manifest specifically as a nostalgia for classic titles and old books, users across BookTok treat books and reading as tools to construct and display their own distinct brands of bookishness.

Rather than representing a break from the history of reading and book use, many of the contemporary reading cultures promoted by BookTok are new iterations of old practices. In an article representative of many of the critiques of BookTok, Barry Pierce, a former BookTube creator, describes BookTok as "a parallel universe where reading wasn't just something that someone did for fun, it was a lifestyle, an aesthetic."33 There is truth to these claims, though it is important to add that BookTok is a diverse community that also includes groups engaging in nuanced literary analysis. What critics like Pierce miss, however, is the historical precedent for the behaviors they describe and critique: readers have long used what they read to cultivate a particular version of the self and have deployed books as props to share that image with others. For instance, Ted Striphas describes how in the 1930s, in an effort to revive the struggling publishing industry, built-in bookshelves were marketed to a growing white, suburban, professional middle class who were encouraged to collect books not on the basis of their "literariness" or even "the pleasures of reading them," but rather for the "appearance of respectability and plenitude" that they conferred on their owners.34 Today, bookshelves are still used in this way, both on BookTok and also more widely, as exemplified by the trend of using bookshelves as Zoom backgrounds at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the books included in the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge reinforce a conventional image of "well-read" bookishness, participants nevertheless use the texts in ways that subvert this intellectual elitism, approaching novels not through close readings and literary analysis, but through identification and immersion. Along with historical influences, reading practices on BookTok are shaped by twenty-first-century digital culture, from influencer marketing and the push for self-optimization to the affordances of TikTok's platform. To understand what Aarthi Vadde calls these "extracurricular literacies," we need to understand books as inseparable from their broader transmedia environment and reading as a practice shaped by cultural values, new and old, as well as by other modes of media reception, from streaming to scrolling.35

Rachel Wilson (@rachcwils , is a PhD Candidate in English Language & Literature at the University of Michigan with a certificate in Digital Studies. Her dissertation uses emerging genres of contemporary life writing to explore postdigital reading practices and the role of the book in the present.


  1. "How TikTok Recommends Videos #ForYou," TikTok Newsroom (August 16, 2019), unpaginated. []
  2. @inlaraland, "Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge part 2," TikTok (Nov. 18, 2021). []
  3. Simone Murray, "Secret Agents: Algorithmic Culture, Goodreads and Datafication of the Contemporary Book World," European Journal of Cultural Studies 24, no. 4 (December 2019): 977. []
  4. During the course of writing this essay, many of the videos I initially wanted to cite have disappeared, removed by users who may have deleted the video, deleted their account, or changed their username. While it is possible to provide URLs to TikTok videos, as I've done in this article, these links are often unstable and can break even when the video remains accessible on the platform. To mitigate this, I have limited references to specific videos and have sought permission from individual users whose videos I cite. Additionally, I have tried to describe the important elements of each video thoroughly, so that readers can understand my analysis even if the videos themselves are taken down. For more on the challenges and ethics of citing with social media data, see Melanie Walsh, "The Challenges and Possibilities of Social Media Data: New Directions in Literary Studies and the Digital Humanities," in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2023, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2023): 275-294. []
  5. Kagan's book, for instance, shows up in Season 3: Episode 10 when Rory buys a four-volume set of Kagan's books The Complete History of the Peloponnesian War as a birthday gift for her grandfather. We never actually hear of or see Rory reading it. []
  6. Blake Hallinan and Ted Striphas, "Recommended for You: The Netflix Prize and the Production of Algorithmic Culture," New Media & Society 18, no. 1 (2016): 117-37. []
  7. Jessica Pressman, Bookishness (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020), 36-37. []
  8. TikTok and Barnes and Noble partnered to hold a #BookTokChallenge in the summer of 2022. Described as an educational tool, it is a clear reference to the summer reading challenges often facilitated by schools and public libraries in the United States. Framed as an attempt to "bring back summer reading like it's never been done before," this is transparently a marketing ploy for both Barnes and Noble and TikTok, masquerading as a public service ("Join the #BookTokChallenge," TikTok Newsroom (June 29, 2022), unpaginated). []
  9. Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2017), 46. []
  10. Kris Cohen, Never Alone, Except for Now: Art, Networks, Populations (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017). []
  11. Srnicek, 47. See also Tarletan Gillespie, "The Politics of 'Platforms,'" New Media & Society, 12, no. 3 (May 2010): 350-351. []
  12. Kaye, D. Bondy Valdovinos, et al, TikTok: Creativity and Culture in Short Video (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2022), 60. []
  13. Kaye et al, 60. []
  14. Importantly, this loop is determined by what the algorithm thinks the user is interested in, rather than their actual interests, meaning that some users get trapped in negative cycles, fed videos they are uninterested in or offended by. []
  15. Sophia Stewart, "How TikTok Makes Backlist Books into Bestsellers," Publishers Weekly (September 3, 2021), unpaginated. []
  16. "Indie Bestsellers Lists," American Booksellers Association, accessed November 9, 2022. []
  17. Some focus on even more specific categories like Russian classics, African American literature, or Gothic novels. []
  18. @warnerbrosTV, "No one loves books like Rory Gilmore," October 20, 2022. []
  19. Another essay could be written about the politics of bookishness in Gilmore Girls. []
  20. Many of my interviewees described themselves as mood readers. One described the term for me as meaning that "I read based on my mood, and that can be like the type of books I'm reading, [or] if I want to read right now" at all (Bookstagram user, interview by Rachel Wilson, September 2, 2022). See also Gia R, "What Does It Mean to Be a Mood Reader?" Book Riot (January 21, 2022), unpaginated. []
  21. Another Bookstagram user told me he used Excel to track his reading, recording "how many queer authors I'm reading in the year and how many BIPOC authors I'm reading" in order to "monitor, and make sure that I'm spreading out my reading" and "to see where my interests are going, and what books I'm being more drawn to" (interview by Rachel Wilson, September 31, 2022). []
  22. Beth Blum, The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019). []
  23. Gilmore Girls, season 1, episode 1, "Pilot," written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, aired October 5, 2000, on the WB (26:10-26:56). []
  24. See Michaela Bronstein, "Modernist Binge-Watching," in The Contemporaneity of Modernism, edited by Michael D'Arcy and Mathias Nilges,(New York: Routledge 2016): 190-202. []
  25. The hashtag #booksthatmademeforgetimreading has 8.3 million views as of November 27, 2023.[]
  26. @hannaslifechoices (Sept. 10, 2022). []
  27. Pressman, 1. []
  28. Pressman, 10. []
  29. Leah Price, What We Talk about When We Talk about Books (New York: Basic Books, 2019), 7. []
  30. Gilmore Girls is the first piece of media referenced on the Aesthetics Wiki site. "Downtown Girl," Aesthetics Wiki, unpaginated. []
  31. Olivia Stowell and Mitch Therieau, "Introduction," Post45: Contemporaries (March 15, 2022), unpaginated. []
  32. "Downtown Girl," Aesthetics Wiki. []
  33. Barry Pierce, "In the shallow world of BookTok, being 'a reader' is more important than actually reading," GQ online (February 1, 2023), unpaginated. []
  34. Ted Striphas, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 28. []
  35. Aarthi Vadde, "Platform or Publisher," PMLA 136, no. 3 (2021): 456, 461. []