A Beginner’s Guide to BookTube

It all started with a simple recommendation from my sister.

“You should check out this YouTuber; her voice are so relaxing,” she said, casually, blissfully unaware of the obsession she was able to create. As someone who exists in a state of perma-anxiety, I will check out anything labeled “relaxing,” no questions asked.

The YouTuber in question turned out to be A Clockwork Reader, i.e. Hannah, a BookTuber with over 200,000 subscribers, an extensive backlog of reading vlogs, reviews, unboxings, “unhauls,” and more. She also co-hosts the webcast series Bookmarked with fellow BookTubers readbyzoe and Hailey in Bookland, is the 26th most followed Goodreads user in the U.S., and does, indeed, have a very relaxing voice.

Hannah from A Clockwork Reader holds the book Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare up so that it covers half her face. Source: The Owlery
Hannah from A Clockwork Reader holds the book Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare up so that it covers half her face. Source: The Owlery

I’ve been a book-nerd my whole life, and am no stranger to the world of the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, Advanced Reader Copies, and Hogwarts sorting hat quizzes (if you’ve only taken the official Pottermore quiz and not the one with all the questions combined, do you even really know your house?!), but up until now my passion has apparently been incomplete because I hadn’t delved into the magical, comforting, and giddily geeky world that is BookTube.

Without further ado, let me present a beginner’s guide to exploring the tropes, tags, genres, and characters of what is arguably the best YouTube genre:

A gif of a person wearing a long-sleeved dress with a pattern of books on it, that matches the backdrop that they are standing in front of. Source: Giphy

Step 1: Watch as many different BookTubers as possible. Find your niche within the niche! Besides the aforementioned creators, there are so many others to love. Start with Tashapolis, emmmabooks, Peruse Project, booksandquills, ellias, and NayaReadsAndSmiles, and go forth from there!

Step 2: Dive into the over-caffeinated, high stakes world of Readathons. These are generally 24-periods in which the creator attempts to read as much as possible. Will they complete 6 books in one day? Will they fall asleep before they finish that last book? The suspense is real. If you’re super brave (and have time to recover) consider attempting one yourself. GeekGirlReadathon, anyone?

Step 3: Feel comforted by the fact that BookTubers are readers of all sorts. They read different genres, at different speeds, for different reasons, in different formats. Whether you’re an audiobook-only reader, a reader who takes their time to savor a few books, or a voracious speed-reader, BookTubers are here to share their love for all things books, not shame your own particular style.

A gif of Matilda from the movie Matilda, sitting in a chair and laughing while reading a book. Source: Giphy

Step 4: Check out reviews of your favorite books, least favorite books, books you’re curious about, books you’ve never heard of, books you wouldn’t expect to like in a million years, and everything in between. An enthusiastic BookTuber can convince you to add hundreds of books to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list that you’d never expect. Reviews are a great way to delve into all the spoiler-y thoughts, or give you a quick rundown of a book before you dive in, all while virtually bonding with your fellow book-nerd, the BookTuber.

Step 5: Find a bookish tag to watch and then answer the questions themselves. Why not? What a great party activity! Uncover your inner book-lover, and learn more about your friends and loved ones. Will your mom only read British murder mysteries? Has your best friend never gotten over their obsession with Dan Brown? You may never know unless you answer the hard-hitting questions found in a book tag.

Step 6: Repeat the previous steps until you achieve a heretofore unimagined state of relaxation, pull yourself out of a reading slump, buy more books than your paycheck can reasonably sustain, start using the terms “unboxing,” “AU,” and “DNF” in casual conversation, or all of the above.

A gif of Janelle Monae from the movie Hidden Figures, walking with a stack of books and binders in her arms. Source: Giphy

So there you have it, your super speedy guide to BookTube. Happy reading and watching, book nerds!

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Hanna Hupp
“Rock On!”

Hanna Hupp

A recent English Lit grad, Hanna is an enthusiastic Hufflepuff who spends as much time as possible reading, writing, and engaging in in-depth critical analyses of the graphic novels, old SyFy shows, and the Bachelor franchise with anyone who will listen. When not developing intense crushes on (inconveniently) fictional characters or outlining a variety of stories she might hopefully get around to writing one day, Hanna can usually be found listening to comedy podcasts while googling 1960’s NASA launches.

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