Published on November 30, 2021, at 8:57 p.m.
by Amelia McGowan
Over the past year, recreational reading has become the newfound escape from reality. People from all walks of life are turning to the page instead of the screen to unwind after a long day. This reinvigorated love for reading has spread across social media through book recommendations and reviews, virtual book clubs, tell-alls with authors of popular blockbusters, and a renewed love for brick-and-mortar bookstores rather than buying online. This new wave of reading has opened doors for authors and retailers alike to reach new audiences one page at a time.
Since the start of the pandemic, stress levels have reached an all-time high. Now more than ever, people are looking for an escape that’s both relaxing and entertaining. While some turned to streaming services and other digital distractions, others chose to imagine an entirely new world through reading.
According to research conducted by Global English Editing, the number of people reading books today rose 35%, as compared to pre-pandemic numbers, with 14% saying they read significantly more. With a market size at $119 billion, this is great news for the publishing industry and the bookstores that seemed to be falling to the wayside.
The rise in recreational reading goes hand in hand with the renewed popularity of print books and the bookstores that sell them. This popularity has largely been influenced by social media, especially on TikTok with the hashtag #Booktok. The social media trend has helped many authors like Tessa Bailey, Colleen Hoover and Sarah J. Maas promote their books through influencers’ recommendations.
For instance, Colleen Hoover’s novel “It Ends With Us” was one of the most popular books featured on social media due to its overwhelming praise from readers. When social media influencers recommended the book, it not only promoted sales, but also helped build a relationship between Hoover and her growing fanbase. Ironically, the use of social media has allowed authors to foster the transition from scrolling screens to turning pages.
The books range from nonfiction to fantasy with a selection fit for everyone. The trend became so popular that bookstores like Barnes and Noble created an entire #Booktok section dedicated to the most popular recommendations from the app. Through virtual word of mouth, books and the bookstores that sell them have gained a renewed sense of relevancy and prominence with the younger generation.
COVID-19 brought several changes to our daily lives, but the rise in recreational reading has emerged as a silver lining. From an increased level of downtime, overstimulation on screens and a social media trend that keeps on giving, reading has become a popular pastime for people of all ages.