Books

Why Read and What Is BookTube?

“Why Read?” fortunately isn’t a question that comes up too often nowadays, yet the act of reading, in its many forms has gone in and out of fashion like turtleneck tops and flared jeans. Reading is physical, it’s mental and it’s visual, yet at some point an area of society defined it as not ‘cool’ or ‘popular’ and so, many people, at least my age and younger were hesitant to even approach any sort of reading. Sadly, reading in general still has this weird association with being a lonely, unsociable act, yet that’s completely wrong. Reading is an act of education, of entertainment and of relaxation! It enables us to explore subjects and bring our own self-reflective qualities to fictional characters that allow us to escape for a second. Or for non-fiction books, whether in an institution of education or not, you can learn so much from simply picking up a book and giving yourself the chance to read into something you may know nothing about.

Let me give you some brief but helpful examples! My taste in books has changed over the years constantly, and my preferences are varied between the classics of Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte to the poems of Walt Whitman, to the modern Romances of John Green. Each genre, movement and period of reading can help and educate people in so many different ways. My first introduction to independent reading and the author that really started my passion was Anthony Horowitz. I used to be obsessed with his short thriller/horror stories and be fascinated by how he could frighten me for weeks so easily, having that fascination so early on also meant that my imagination grew and in my fright I saw the world in different ways. Some might say seeing the world in more frightening ways is a little scarring for a child and shouldn’t be advocated, but I say if anything allows a child or an adult to see the world through another, not too harmful, perspective then it must be a good thing. Through difficult times the world often feels dull, and repetitive, having these imaginations and stimulants to offer us new ways of seeing it means that it can never become banal, because we will continually be discovering something we never knew could be found. There will never be a time when there is nothing new to find and the act of reading puts us directly into the position of the discoverer.

Now, further on reading self-help articles online and books encouraged me to do exactly that, help myself become a more confident, and driven person, and yet again growing up with such an encouraging and positive influence is incredibly inspiring and beneficial. Following on from that idea of being confident in who I am, I have always known, because you can’t deny biology and my parents have told me, that I am mixed race. I’ve always been fine with that but I didn’t always understand what it meant to me. Using books later on in life to learn about both cultures of my heritage means that I had not only a greater understanding of my ancestors on both sides, but subsequently of my own mixed identity. This again leads us onto another example, our identity in relation to the books we read. Now I have spoken about this with my friends, in class, and have frequently read about it because I find it so interesting, but our individual influence on how we read, and what that piece of reading means to us is invaluable and never-ending. It means that although there will always be a roughly similar opinion that runs through it amongst peers, each of us will approach a book and situation with an ever so slightly different perspective. Through discussion of a book with another person we can find new meaning, we can find another way of looking at it, meaning again that the book becomes endless and timeless. Maybe this is something that can be brought into society, this idea of understanding how to approach each other, by understanding the ever so slightly different thoughts of the person next to us.

What’s more is that reading, in itself, creates another community, a community that I have found to be such an inviting and interesting one. One prominent example of this community of readers and writers is BookTube which brings us to the second question “What is BookTube?”. Well put simply it is the book section of YouTube and it is wonderful. For any reading enthusiasts and/or writers it is a great resource for recommendations, for advice, for reviews and for discovering a new community of people who adore the same things as you. Two particular, perhaps, godfathers of BookTube are the aforementioned John Green and his brother Hank, who go by the name ‘VlogBrothers’. Now as well as being known for being a best selling author (John) and a musician (Hank) and all round nice guys, they are responsible for so much of BookTubes success and in fact YouTubes success, ever heard of Vidcon? They created it. Vidcon is what it sounds like, an annual convention for online video content creators and their fans, similar to Summer in the City. They’re also responsible for the highly inclusive, and confidence building communities of Nerdfighteria and charity driven projects such as ‘Project for Awesome’. Their videos strive to do what many books teach us to do, to learn for ourselves no matter our age, to always ask questions and to be confident in what we love however ridiculous it may be.

BookTube shows us just how niche sections of the web can affect their audiences, although YouTube is filled with negative, trolling keyboard warriors that want to destroy peoples passions and confidences, there are more positive and helpful contributors. It is in niche communities like these that I have found some of the most refreshing and heart-warming examples of humanity, people who actively are brave enough to offer their heart out to express their deepest appreciation for the existence of the community and of its creators. There are people who spend their times replying to others on the comments section in order to help. People ask questions about writing, about reading, about life, relevant or not, and are returned with some of the most beautifully uplifting and obliging comments. Despite being a niche subculture of YouTube it does have a relatively large following and there are tonnes of incredibly good creators, people like Jena Moreci, Peruse Project and to mention them again for good luck VlogBrothers, yet it is still undeniably under-appreciated, so go check it out!

I shall end this article with a quote by the formidable Oscar Wilde:

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

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