TikTok has become the best place to find the unlikeliest heroes and yet every day there are people who share stories that bring back home for humanity. Oliver James, 34, parked his white Ford cargo van into his favorite spot at Upper Newport Bay Nature Reserve in Orange County, before starting his first Livestream of the day. Behind the driver’s seat, he has added a makeshift curtain and by the side mirror, he has a place for his cellphone to sit. From there everything is set up and he just needs to take out the paperback copy of the book in his bag.
As James begins the Livestream, he says “It’s a new day, a new start,” and then flips to page 190 of the book “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl.” Hundreds have already logged on and are watching the Livestream as he begins reading from the memoir.
James is not the type of evocative reader that you would have expected to go viral, but he has something positive and infectious in his energy that has helped him get a big following. James is a personal trainer by trade and yet his six-figure following makes him one of the largest “BookTok” influencers on the platform. In fact, his following is larger than the one of the New York Public Library, The Last Bookstore, and all the “Big Five” publishers combined.
His meteoric rise in the platform is hard to explain, especially when one understands that it all started with five words.
“What’s up! I can’t read.”
And yet, those five words started both his online journey and his journey as a reader.
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