Barnes and Noble’s website describes BookTok as a hashtag used by creators who feature book recommendations, reviews and memes (Barnes and Noble). BookTok has grown a considerable amount since the beginning of TikTok and now there is an entire community within the app. After seeing creators rave about the same few books over and over again, I knew I would have to check some of them out for myself. Would they be worth the hype or would they be complete misses?
The first notable BookTok novel I had ever read was “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. I originally was bored when I first started reading it, but it picked up about halfway through and I was hooked. The prose is simple, but the writing style was unique to me which made it easy to read. I loved one of the main characters, Gat (Gatwick) by the end of the novel and was personally inspired to start reading with a pen because of him. I don’t think that this book was anything too extraordinary or never been done before but it was definitely a fun summer read.
This next book I saw all over BookTok for months and had heard so much about it from users that I follow and several of my friends was “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller. It is a retelling of the myth of Achilles and Patroclos. I thought I knew the myth but I was not prepared (emotionally) for the story ahead of me. The writing is unbelievably beautiful and descriptive. I put off finishing this book when I got close to the end. I was conflicted because I didn’t want to stop reading it but at the same time, I couldn’t put it down. I cried for days after finishing it, and I regularly re-read my favorite sections.
One of the trends that I liked on BookTok was the “if you liked this book then read this one” which helps lesser-known books and authors grow in popularity. I’ve noticed a huge revival of Greek mythology retellings on BookTok. I have since added “Circe”, also by Madeline Miller, and Troy by Adèle Gerasto to my TBR (to be reading) list after finishing “The Song of Achilles.”
“Diary of an Oxygen Thief” was my least favorite read out of the bunch. I would definitely advise looking up trigger warnings before if you insist on reading this 151-page bore. I did not like the main character at all; he is toxic, manipulative and misogynistic. The writing style actually wasn’t too terrible, and it was a quick read. I did, however, physically cringe and roll my eyes at some parts that were especially obnoxious. For only being 151 pages, it felt really drawn out and anticlimactic, making it the biggest miss I have found thus far on BookTok.
Out of the books I have read that were recommended on BookTok, I liked two out of the three. Since there are so many other features available on BookTok that you can explore, it raised my overall rating to 4/5 stars.
Many of the creators I have found use the app to discuss books and not just recommend them, which was my favorite feature overall. One of the creators I found uses the Live mode to read along with followers, especially complicated or classic texts, which allows timely discussions. Other creators have made book clubs with their followers or will use trends to give recognition to their favorite authors or fellow BookTok-themed accounts.
Another tool I discovered through using the app is booktriggerwarnings.com. This website is helpful since creators often recommend books which contain sensitive themes or content that not all readers will be comfortable with reading. If you do decide to trust BookTok, I advise you to check the trigger warnings before reading. A lot of creators include these warnings in captions which I found very considerate and helpful.
The community aspect of BookTok has grown so much in the past few months that I have been using the app. I love how creators actually share their opinions on topics and as the viewer, I have the opportunity to comment back or join live streams to continue the conversation. It is refreshing considering most of TikTok is centered on short-lived trends and you hear the same audios and videos repeatedly. BookTok is here to stay!