Students and Graduates of Tosa West Pursue Their Hobbies Using Social Media


Claire G

Terrence Ball uses his Instagram account to express his love for Spiderman. He hopes it will appeal to other Marvel fans who share his passion.

Claire Guttormson, Writer

Social media has provided opportunities for people across the globe to connect in mutual obsessions, fiery debates, and far-reaching theories. 

Young people are a driving force behind the creation of these communities, and some students and graduates of Tosa West have become members of them as they run accounts dedicated to supporting their hobbies. 

“I’ve always enjoyed reading and storytelling in general, like when I was a kid and my parents read bedtime stories, I got super into that. I was always carrying around Nancy Drew books when I was in second grade,” said the creator behind the instagram account thebooksofmorgan and 2016 Tosa West graduate, Morgan Zygmunt.

Her account consists of book related content, from reviews to shopping hauls. 

“I was a junior in college, my cousin actually was like, ‘You should start an Instagram account. Like there’s so many people out there who read books’”, said Zygmunt, “I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know if I’m good enough for social media. It’s so judgy like, I don’t know if I want to commit myself to that.’ But I ended up doing it anyway. And then almost three years later, I have this book account.”

In those three years since her cousin first suggested she start her account, Zygmunt has gathered a following of over 2 thousand and found a community of friends on Instagram. 

Current Tosa West sophomore, Chloe Ellery, was similarly nudged into making a book instagram account. She created hers in the summer of 2021. 

“I follow only book related content and I post book related content. I can get a lot of different book recommendations there and talk to people about our favorite books and just connect,” said Ellery. 

On platforms such as TikTok and Instagram books gain popularity instantly, pushed from person to person with a simple double tap of the finger.

“One of my favorite books I got from BookTok. It was actually sold out because of how popular it got,” said Ellery, “It was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and I remember buying the only copy left at target because it was so popular, it was selling out everywhere.”

V.E Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, the story of a girl who makes a deal with the devil and is gifted immortality for the price of being immediately forgotten by everyone she meets,  was one of the top 100 books sold on Amazon in 2021 and one of the top 50 bestselling books according to USA Today. It is only one of the many books which gain a massive amount of sales and acclaim due to social media. 

Despite holding different opinions on the worthiness of the hype surrounding Addie LaRue, Zygmunt is similarly amazed by the way social media has changed the buying and selling of books. 

“Instagram and Tiktok have changed the way books are marketed towards people,” said Zygmunt. 

Displayed in nearly every Barnes and Noble in the country are the books currently trending on #BookTok and Amazon highlights these picks on “As Seen on #BookTok” lists. 

Major publishing houses such as Penguin Random House and it’s imprint, Penguin Teen, both have TikTok accounts which they use to market books directly to this quickly growing demographic of BookTokers and their followers. 

Authors such as Chloe Gong and Victoria Aveyard have also turned to TikTok as a way to interact with their readers. Both published #1 New York Times Bestselling Books in 2021. 

BookTok and its predecessors Bookstagram, BookTube, and BookTwitter were built by fans, and the presence of authors and publishers does change the dynamic of those fan interactions. 

“Having the authors there [does make it] kind of hard to say your thoughts of the book for fear that the author sees it and is offended, I’ve heard a lot about that,” said Ellery, “I’ve been noticed by authors a  few times but I had nothing bad to say about their books. But yeah, it’s definitely an added stress thinking that the author might see you talking about their books.”

The authors and the books who continue to blow up in internet book communities tend to follow a set trend. 

“There’s a lot of fantasy. A problem I have noticed is that most of the books have white straight leads and do not have representation for people of color and different sexual orientations,” said Ellery.

She has started following more and more creatures with smaller follower counts in order to move her feed away from this trend. 

“Most mainstream books are not very diverse, so that’s definitely a problem to be addressed. That’s another reason I like the smaller creators because they tend to push more diverse books,” said Ellery.

Zygmunt has noticed a similar pattern in the book recommendations on Instagram, and the response which pushes to support authors who are members of communities that have been overlooked by publishers. 

“It’s not something that’s going to be resolved overnight, but there’s a lot of people out there, myself included, who are trying to have more open conversations and discussions about those authors and promoting those authors in a space that’s generally very open to those opinions and perspectives,” said Zygmunt. 

Tosa West sophomore Terrence Ball has had a similar experience with lack of acceptance of different perspectives, although his observations were made in a very different corner of the internet than the book nook from which Ellery and Zygmunt post. 

He posts a lot of Marvel, specifically Spiderman content.

“For a while on TikTok, I tried cosplay and worked out pretty good,” said Ball. “Movie scenes or little skits or comedy or just to have fun.”

He’s taken a step back from posting about Marvel on social media, but he still remains a fan, interacting with the content that others put out. 

“They post content like videos, edits, memes, or tributes or just cool edits or fan arts,” said Ball.

As cool as he finds these videos and memes, he has also noticed a lot of drawbacks of interacting with other fans on the internet. 

“You see when it comes to the Spider Man fan club, we tend to be extremely toxic,” said Ball, “I’ll give you an opinion, but everyone will be completely hummeling a bunch of crap on me for that. Say I love Tom Holland, fans will say ‘No, you idiot like Toby McGuire more!’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s just my opinion.’ So basically if you give out an opinion, or anything, fans won’t accept it.”

Social media is often criticized for providing platforms with the perfect environment for this toxicity to thrive. 

“Instagram is just a comparison game. It’s just making you compare yourself to others,” said Zygmunt. 

Apps such as Instagram and TikTok make data such as like, view, and follower count public to anyone to view, making it easy for creators to compare themselves to others. 

“I have heard some people losing interest or not feeling like they measure up to some of the bigger accounts with more followers…it’s a problem,” said Ellery.

Zygmunt has felt that pressure to compare her account to larger ones, but has since learned to take a step back in those moments. 

“I mean, not that I was upset about the number of likes I was getting, but it’s frustrating to see a lot of effort be put into a post and then not see reciprocation or appreciation from other people. That’s just the nature of Instagram. And now I just kind of let it be,” said Zygmunt.


This can also be a challenge for authors and booksellers when certain posts, no matter how much work is put into them, just do not get the same amount of attention.

“I can see how it would negatively impact independent writers who don’t have publishers assigned to them. There’s a lot of books that are published through Amazon independently that don’t get the same kind of marketing, necessarily,” said Zygmunt.

Lack of equality amongst marketing is just one item in a heavy stack of drawbacks of being on the internet, but there are numerous benefits as well, which Ellery has noted as being much greater. 

“There’s not many disadvantages, because I can pretty much post on my own time. Everyone’s super supportive,” said Ellery.

She has gained a community to talk with and motivate each other. 

“I’ve made a couple of friends who I’ve done buddy reads with so they can read the same book at the same time and talk about it, which has really helped me stay motivated to read because sometimes I feel not motivated with all the stresses, like schoolwork,” said Ellery.

The internet offers the chance for widespread connection, and the building of relationships with people across the world. 

“I’ve been able to connect with so many people around the world which is absolutely insane,” said Zygmunt, “I have friends in Iceland, and France. One of my closest friends from the account actually lives in Alaska. And then I also have another one of my good friends, she lives in the LA area.”

All of these people have connected across oceans and through pandemics over a mutual interest. Influencing each other and fostering conversation. 

“I like the fact that TikTok has inspired so many young people to pick up books. I think it’s become more of an open discussion about literacy and what we enjoy reading and not being ashamed of like what you want to read and  just enjoying the format of storytelling that way. I think that’s been really awesome,” said Zygmunt.

Ball appreciates this ability for connection over social media.

“[Creators] just show you how much they love what they do, like they really love Marvel or they really love DC and how much it really means to them,” said Ball,  “And it just really shows you how much impact superheroes have on us.”

He hopes to continue to share the depth of that impact and create safe and welcoming spaces for differing perspectives. 

“I think I might continue to be a Marvel fan and Spider Man fan. Help people realize we’re allowed to like different things and entertain people with my content,” said Ball.

Zygmunt has also set goals for how her content will contribute to the growing book communities on social media, and for herself as she continues to be a part of those communities.

“That’s something that my friend and I have been talking about a lot is just reading books that we genuinely enjoy and I think that when you enjoy the books that you’re reading then your content becomes better on social media,” said Zygmunt,  “So that’s my big goal for the future. And obviously I still want to inspire other people to read.”

Ellery hopes that her account will continue to be a fun and non stressful place to talk about and openly enjoy books as making and interacting with book content has only reinforced her already present love for reading. 

“I think it’s really widen my variety of books. I’ve always had a love for books, I think it’s amplified that, giving me all of these new opportunities,” said Ellery.



thebooksofmorgan’s List of Bookstagram Books That Are Worth the Hype