We all know TikTok took over the internet during the pandemic and many people have found a community for themselves on the app. One of these is the BookTok community, which as the name can tell you, centers around the love for books. Bookstr went live on Instagram for an interview with BookToker Sarina hosted by Morgan Boyd. The team at Bookstr and our audience had a lot of questions for Sarina.
Sarina is an 18-year-old Booktoker from Illinois with 30.8K followers on TikTok. She is one of the co-hosts of BookTalk, a book-centered online-only event that runs from August 6th to August 8th (more on this below).
q: What are your 3 To Read? Hot Pick (new release), Dark Horse (mystery/thriller), Beach Read
Sarina: My Hot Pick is Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar, for Dark Horse it’s One of Us Is Lying and One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus, and my Beach Read is Beach Read by Emily Henry
Q: What inspired you to start your BookTok?
Sarina: I think a lot of people started their BookTok over quarantine and covid. I started mine in January. I was really bored and I was going to school. I just graduated high school but I was really bored and I thought “let’s try this.” I love reading and I hadn’t read in a couple of years. I wanted to try this and I really just wanted to have some friends, friends that had similar interests to me and I found a lot of amazing people.
Q: What is your advice for people who want to start a BookTok?
Sarina: Make content for yourself. First and foremost. Make whatever videos you want to make and you will find your niche. Your audience knows if you’re engaged or not in what you’re posting, they know if you’re enjoying yourself in videos, and if you are posting content that you don’t like because you think it’ll give you an audience you’re not gonna enjoy posting. It won’t be fun.
Q: How do you come up with your content? Is there a drafting process or does it just come to you in the moment?
Sarina: Sometimes I have an idea for a video. Say I know I want tp make a book recommendation video for South Asian Queer books. So I’ll start drafting that, thinking about what I want to do and the order I want to put them in, way in advance. I’ve done a couple of compilation videos for a lot of books and it takes a lot of time because it’s like finding pictures, finding books, making sure they actually fit my prompt. But most of the time stuff just comes to me and I will make it. Most of the time I’ll be scrolling through my For You page and think “oh, this person did something I like, I’ll make it book related.”
Q: do you have any anticipated releases for the rest of the year? or ones that have recently come out that you’re super excited about?
Sarina: Yes! I have so many anticipated releases for the rest of the year. But outside of sequels and whatnot, She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan coming out on July 20th. We are coming up on that release day, that is on Tuesday, I am so excited. It is my most anticipated new release of the year.
Going off of other people’s reactions, I’m so excited for Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong even though I’ve already read it. I’m so excited.
I’m also really excited about How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao which is this Dark Academia/Murder Mystery novel with an all-Asian cast by an Asian author. Really, really excited about that. I think it’s going to be really good.
Q: What is a book you read because of Booktok and what were your thoughts on it?
Sarina: I read a couple because of BookTok. I read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir because of BookTok, and I absolutely adore it. I’m currently on the 4th book in the quartet and it’s probably my favorite book series. Genuinely amazing. I also read The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar because of BookTok. I’m super thankful I did because I read that and I was like “that is the first time I ever felt seen in a book which means a lot.”
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of content creation?
Sarina: My favorite is definitely the community, if you find your niche and find friends within it. And finding friends is inevitable on BookTok, you are going to find mutuals and then you add each other on Snapchat and get each other’s phone numbers. It happens whether you want it to or not really. I’ve met people that I consider my best friends on that app which is amazing.
The worst part about content creating is also the community. Since it is the Internet people think they can post stuff without having consequences because they’re hiding behind a screen. You know, that really sucks. We’ve all gotten some pretty nasty comments on videos if you’ve been on TikTok. It’s inevitable. But as long as you have the positive community you will always be fine. Also starting a trend and not getting credit for it or creating a video and having followers plagiarizing it. What you should do is credit the original creator with their @ in the comments.
Q: Have there been any surprises that you found in content creation?
Sarina: I think the TikTok algorithm is just a mess. It’s so hard to figure out and I know you should not base your self-worth off of views. You should make content because you want to make content, but I have a couple of videos that did really well, and a couple that I spent a really long time on not do well. It’s so annoying. I’ve made a couple of edits and none of them do amazing.
Q: What’s your favorite video or a series that you’ve created that is your favorite?
Sarina: My favorite video is one I made with my younger sister. It’s this guessing the book titles one. I come from a family of readers, my sister has a better bookshelf than I do, but I read the first line of a book and she had to guess which book it came from. She got all of these books so easily and when she did it to me, I did not get any of them.
Q: What is a book or book series that got you into reading?
Sarina: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I love Percy Jackson. I read it at such a young age and I absolutely loved it. But the book that got me out of a 4-year reading slump was The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Q: what’s your favorite movie?
Sarina: The Breakfast Club.
Q: what’s your favorite book to movie adaptation?
Sarina: The Hunger Games or Shadow and Bone.
Q: what’s your least favorite book to movie adaptation?
Sarina: I don’t enjoy most of them I’m going to be completely honest.
Q: What Is a book you wish you read sooner than you did?
Sarina: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Q: What is a book you could have gone without reading altogether?
Sarina: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron.
Q: What is a book you would recommend as a must-read?
Sarina: The Kite Runner by by Khaled Hosseini.
Q: What is your cure to a reading slump?
Q: Tell us about the BookTalk event