Social media accounts now are not only a tool of social connection, but also the learning tool.
You’ve likely heard of #BookTok, a rapidly growing corner of the TikTok algorithm ran by and for book lovers with the purpose of recommending their favorite reads, offering critique of popular novels, and essentially operating digital book clubs in the app’s comment section.
BookTok has a ton of social power now, influencing book sales and publishing decisions with more than 46 billion views under the hashtag.
But many users have complained about the glaring lack of diversity across the internet subculture — there aren’t enough authors of color in popular tags, stories with multi-dimensional Black and queer characters are few and far between, and creators of color across the app face suppression of their content and even rampant anti-Blackness.
It’s a valid criticism that’s not limited to TikTok accounts, with Instagram‘s book community (#Bookstagram) and YouTube‘s BookTube also criticized for a lack of attention to these creators.
The larger literary and publishing industry also continues to reckon with a racist system that impedes the success of non-white authors and stories.You should be following more disability activists. Here’s where to begin.
As the larger book industry and social media world deal with these issues, consumers can act by supporting authors and creators posting against the status quo.
This short list includes some of the most popular accounts and some up-and-coming book “influencers” whose goals are to diversify people’s booklists, support authors of color, and introduce social justice topics to the masses. Scroll through, and maybe you’ll find your next eye-opening read.
The Noname Book Club for liberation was founded by rapper and social justice activist Noname in 2019 to uplift the work of other writers of color.
Each month, the book club chooses two books to read and hosts live meetings to discuss them on Instagram — the group also picks a free monthly article related to the monthly picks to encourage participation for those unable to purchase the selected books.
In addition, NoNameReads operates an in-person headquarters and community library in Los Angeles.
The book club not only invites the larger social media community into active dialogue about social and racial justice topics on the account, but also runs a books for incarcerated comrades program, which supplies currently incarcerated readers with monthly books so they can remain engaged in community conversations and learning.
Visit the Instagram and revisit the monthly picks to mix up your reading goals.
Recent picks: Home Is Not A Country by Safia Elhillo, The Sobbing School by Joshua Bennett
April Book Picks are The Sobbing School and our Homie Pick is Home Is Not a Country from our friend Natalie (she/her). pic.twitter.com/x9dv3Wkk6m
— Noname Book Club (@NonameBooks) April 1, 2022
According to the For Colored Girls Book Club bio, this Bookstagram page is “for colored girls who have considered not reading anymore bc all the books were written by straight white men you’ve had enuf.”
The Indianapolis-based club was created by poet Gizelle Fletcher to amplify the works of Black and brown women and nonbinary authors on his account.
The pages include the club’s monthly book picks, interviews and writer highlights, and further reading. You can also visit the Book Club’s Bookshop page, which collects all of the monthly picks into one easy space to purchase from independent booksellers.
Recent picks: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, Angela Davis: An Autobiography by Angela Davis, edited by Toni Morrison
Well Read Black Girl was created by writer Glory Edim in 2015 to introduce Black nonbinary, queer, and trans authors as well as authors with disabilities to the wider public through book club recommendations, events like its annual literary festival (most recently held for virtual attendees last October), and an online blog.
Edim also hosts the accompanying Well Read Black Girl podcast. On Instagram, the Well Read Black Girl account shares book highlights, live events in conversation with authors, and thoughts from the monthly book club meetings.
Are YOU Ready for Book Club This Weekend?! ✨ RSVP for the virtual gathering! Plus, new book club picks and LISTEN to latest WRBG podcast episode with Brit Bennett https://t.co/8q6Qtmiain pic.twitter.com/NZh0DaX7dV
— Well-Read Black Girl Festival ™ (@wellreadblkgirl) March 22, 2022
Recent picks: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans, Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
An account by publishing company Penguin Random House, All Ways Black is part of an initiative to promote and celebrate Black literature, including offering professional resources for Black creatives, a national award program for Black authors and literary influencers, and a series of curated book lists across genres.
On Instagram account, All Ways Black shares new releases, live conversations with Black authors, and even book choices for topical pop culture moments.
The recommendations are curated by book influencer and founding editor of All Ways Black, Cree Myles. You can follow Myles for her own book picks on her personal Instagram, @CreeMyles, as well.
Recent picks: Sula by Toni Morrison, Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Diverse Spines is a literary initiative and book community highlighting authors who are Black women and women of color in an effort to expand the stories and experiences represented in the publishing world.
It was founded by Jamise Harper, an author and book influencer, who started the #DiverseSpines tag on Instagram and expanded it into a full-fledged organization in 2018.
Diverse Spines has since added author workshops, book discussions, and reading challenges to its diversity efforts. Harper also wrote a book, Bibliophile: Diverse Spines, which teaches people how to diversify their reading lists and includes curated book lists by Harper and other Black literary leaders.
The official Instagram account now has more than 31,000 followers, who follow for “Spine of the Month” picks, book recommendations, and author chats. Harper’s personal Instagram page is also full of diverse book picks.
Our February Spine of the Month ic; is #MyMonticello by @jocelynjohnson 👏🏽🙌🏽 Grab a copy from our bookshop and #ReadwithDiverseSpines https://t.co/zZKMeugKqU#BHM #diversespines#bookstagram #spineofthemonth ic; pic.twitter.com/XnRYSr7r6j
— Diverse Spines ® (@diversespines) January 31, 2022
Recent picks: The Age of Phillis by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
De Nichols is a social inclusion user experience researcher at YouTube and the author of Art of Protest, a graphic novel about the history of protest art and imagery. She founded the Deliberate and Unafraid Book Club to create space for conversations about social and racial justice through literature.
The bookclub recommends three levels of books — children’s, young adult, and adult — each month, with Nichols engaging in conversation over on her Instagram page.
Deliberate and Unafraid was on a hiatus while Nichols finished her book, but will continue soon — view previous picks on their website or sign up for book club alerts.
Recent picks: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, The Broken Heart of America by Walter Johnson
Simone is a blogger and book influencer who recommends books written primarily by people of color, including Asian authors and the LGBTQ community.
Most of her recommendations span the science fiction and fantasy genres, with additional young adult and romance books thrown in for a good mix of popular fiction.
You’ll find in-depth reviews and calming journaling videos, if that’s what draws you to BookTok. Find all of Simone’s book reviews and recommendations on her blog or social media account.
Recent picks: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin, Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye
Sachi Argabright is a finance professional by day and book influencer by night, as well as a co-host of the Reading Women podcast, which highlights books by and about women.
As an Asian American woman, Argabright has curated reading guides for Asian and Pacific Islander authors and stories, including specific Japanese and Korean stories.
You can find all of these guides and reviews in the highlights section of her Instagram account — many of the account’s weekly highlights also feature Asian authors, spanning genres from fantasy to young adult to graphic novels. Her account has a guest reviewer as well: her pet corgi named Yuki.
Recent picks: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha, The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun (translated by Lizzie Buehler)
C. Forte, known as MelanatedReader on Instagram, is a PhD candidate in literature, book influencer, and 2021’s Bookstagrammer of the Year for the All Ways Black literature awards.
On top of frequent book recommendations and reviews on the social media account, she also hosts Instagram Live author chats, and her page is full of funny and topical book memes.
Forte also participated in the Black Girl Booksta Tour, a Bookstagram event for Black History Month that celebrated Black women in literature — you can still visit the page to view the chosen books, accounts, and authors in conversation.
She runs a TikTok account of the same name, where she focuses mostly on reviewing adult romance novels to address a lack of diversity within one of BookTok’s most popular genres.
Recent picks: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
Black Girl With Books was All Ways Black’s winner for debut Bookstagrammer of the Year in 2021. Her account is specifically catered to those interested in Black authors and independent publishing, and she shares her recommendation on both Instagram and to her small following on TikTok.
You’ll find book reviews, highlights of independent and Black-owned bookstores, and even audio book recommendations on her pages.
Recent picks: Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Dani Sally-Anne is a member of the Ojibwe tribe of the Dog Creek First Nation, and co-founder of the Indigenous Reading Circle, a collective and book club that meets monthly via livestream to discuss Indigenous stories and authors.
On her personal page, you’ll find a plethora of her own book recommendations by Indigenous authors, which are organized by genre in the highlights section of her page, including Indigenous fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even children’s books.
For those interested in joining the reading circle, the group offers assistance for Indigenous participants who need help purchasing books, and you can also donate books yourself to help the program.
Recent picks: A Calm and Normal Heart by Chelsea T. Hicks, Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
The Indigenous Book Club is an online collective of people reading and recommending books only by Indigenous authors. It was founded by Carolann Jane Duro Mataweer, an Indigenous writer, YouTube creator, and linguist based in California.
The club now has more than 500 monthly participants, and shares monthly recommendations, collaborates with Indigenous organizations for virtual conversation sessions, and is preparing to launch its own Zine.
On the Instagram page, you’ll find recommendations and curated lists, like books written by 2Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ authors. You can buy all of the Indigenous Book Club’s recommendations from Quiet Quail Books.
The page is holistically a great resource to expand your reading list into Indigenous history and storytelling.
Recent picks: We Are Dancing For You by Cutcha Risling Baldy, Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Casey R. Kelley is a BookToker focused on diversifying the #BookTok community’s picks and the general public’s TBR lists. Her page hosts a #BlackBookOfTheDay series, which includes daily, less-than-one-minute-long reviews that highlight books by Black authors.
She curates collections according to the month or her followers’ requests, as well, like lists of Black poetry you should be reading, stories that aren’t your “stereotypical” Black History Month choices, and fiction picks featuring Black men as main characters.
Kelley also runs DiversaTea Reads, a monthly subscription service that lets you choose from five different book titles by or about people of color and the LGBTQ community.
Recent picks: Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith, Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne
For (mainly) nonfiction recommendations by women and nonbinary people of color, and a more critical take on the state of feminist literature, visit the Girl Boss In Red TikTok account and its accompanying book list. The account is run by Andrea Panaligan, a culture writer and critic who writes about a variety of subjects and media account.
She also co-founded Sine Liwanag, an independent publication that publishes essays and reviews of Philippine and world cinema. Panaligan’s videos are longer than other creators you might find on the app, as she shares deeper analysis and personal reflections alongside her reviews — her account includes book recommendations, honest opinions of popularized feminist media, and yearly reading challenges.