COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- A TikTok star from Costa Mesa is gaining fame by bringing his fans along with him on his journey to learn how to read.
The 34-year-old may be functionally illiterate, but he's determined to change that.
Oliver James has been filming himself from the front seat of his van for the last year and a half as he reads.
"I usually ... push play and just do a couple of my lives or a couple of my videos and that's pretty much it," James explained to "Good Morning America" of his simple setup at a parking garage.
James, who is a personal trainer and aspiring motivational speaker, has been sharing his life on TikTok as @oliverspeaks1.
His literacy goal has made him a star of the "BookTok" community.
Approximately 43 million Americans have low literacy skills and over 8 million are considered functionally illiterate, meaning they are unable to determine the meaning of sentences, read short texts or complete simple forms, according to 2019 data from the Department of Education.
"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating. So they spent a lot of time restraining us, a lot of time disciplining us, a lot of times putting us in positions to kind of shape us to just not act out in class," he recalled.
Now, James' reading skills have improved so significantly that he's on a new journey to read 100 books this year.
With his short-term goal set, James also said he hopes to one day teach his own 3-week-old son to read.
"Good Morning America" contributed to this report.