Youtube provides a wide variety of channels, from tabletop gaming to pond building. Basically, there is a channel for every hobby you can think of and many more beyond your imagination. So, when I was looking for fun resources that would prepare me for my English degree, I turned to YouTube. And I found BookTube, the community of YouTubers (called ‘BookTubers’) that produce content about books on YouTube.
Unfortunately, BookTube seems to be a minority in the YouTube scene. These days, there is no shortage of YouTube channels with millions of subscribers but the most popular BookTuber, polandbananasBOOKS, only has 381,112 subscribers. Her channel mostly talks about Young Adult fiction like the majority of BookTubers. BookTubers that discuss literary fiction are not easy to find so I thought I would recommend 5 literary BookTubers that I love to those who may be interested in literature.
1. Ariel Bissett
If you have never read any literature and are intimidated by it, Ariel’s videos are the best place to start. Her channel originally published YA content but gradually shifted towards literature as she began her undergraduate degree in English literature and later her Masters. Despite the change in taste, she is not one of those literary snobs that worship classics and look down upon popular fiction. In fact, she has posted a few videos that address the divide between popular and literary fiction.
Her cheerful and infectiously enthusiastic tone keeps you engaged in her videos. Apart from books, her channel also features many of her other word-related passions such as poetry performance, spoken word, writing and zines. She also frequently posts reflective videos on BookTube as a community, which may be insightful to anyone new to this neighbourhood.
Mattia’s channel, The Bookchemist was the first literary channel on YouTube that I stumbled upon. Mattia is a PhD student specializing in American literature, specifically “post-postmodernism”. Postmodernism and post-postmodernism are two related and contemporary literary trends popular in the United States. They are difficult to describe. With the aim of challenging all sorts of literary conventions, (post-)postmodernism frequently employs techniques such as breaking the fourth wall and experiment with grammar, punctuation and paragraphing. Some postmodernist works also intentionally creates displeasure in readers. They are quirky indeed and not for everyone’s taste but you might become fascinated by them as I did.
Mattia is not limited to postmodernist writers such as Thomas Pynchon, Michael Chabon, David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers. He also reviews works of other genres particularly horror, crime and sci-fi. H.P. Lovecraft and R.L Stine (the author of the Goosebumps series) are among his favourites. As an Italian, he also has familiarity with authors from his motherland and gives interesting insights and recommendations of Italian literature.
Barry is unapologetically pretentious. His comical negativity is a breath of fresh air in a community of book lovers that have a tendency to rate every book five stars. His open distaste for the YA genre and unreserved attacks on drama or trends within the BookTube are certainly entertaining. However, from the self-mocking comments that bubble up from time to time in his videos, he is clearly putting up a caricatured personality for entertainment purposes. On his social media and several live streams, you could see that his real character is not as sarcastic and cynical.
Looking for award winning books? Barry would give you plenty of recommendations. He is a loyal follower the Man Booker Prize. His high standard means that he will mercilessly bash books that fall short of his expectations, detailing their flaws in his reviews. However, he is equally generous in adulation of works that he fancies.
Bukowski is studying a Master’s degree in literature focusing on 18th century literature. Bukowski leans towards a university vlogger (with a literary twist) more than any other BookTubers I introduce in this article, evident in the many videos on her university reading lists, dissertation and courses.
You would find interesting recommendations of classics and historical fiction due to her interest in history. You’d also find that diversity and feminism are big themes in her channel. If you have been trying to find some classical women writers that aren’t as famous as Jane Austen or the Brontes, you have found the right place. In addition to that, her more recent videos also reflect a growing fascination with cities, particularly, London, the setting for many a historical novel or classic.
5. Better Than Food: Book Reviews
Finally, we have Clifford Lee Sargent. His videos are less varied and they generally follow a regular, simple format. Most of them are long reviews focusing on just one book. He never cramps multiple books he read, like the monthly wrap-up, which has become a common practice on BookTube. He also travels abroad occasionally and would film certain book reviews in places related to the author or where the story takes place. These videos are a delight giving a change from the conventional bookshelf backdrop while showcases his cinematographic skills.
You will find many books that are philosophical, experimental and transgressive on his channel. Collections of plays, poems and essays also pop up occasionally. He also has a particular liking for French literature and has mentioned a desire to learn the language as a result.
By Ed Yong Zhien Bao
Featured image credits: http://www.escolasantmartibcn.cat/?p=6811