In an article about BookTok, the covers of three famous books

Are BookTok’s Hyped Up Recommendations Any Good?

Book lovers from around the world connect with each other and share recommendations through TikTok, but are the books actually any good?

TikTok provides an outlet for enthusiasts of all kinds to share their skills and interests with the world. Users of the app have posted thousands upon thousands of videos under various hashtags, demonstrating to their subscribers, as well as the rest of the TikTok community, that new hobbies and friends are just a finger-click away. The hashtag BookTok currently has over 10.7 billion views.

This enormous following has led to the creation of BookTok sections in bookstores and even shortages of certain novels. Adding to this craze, books that were written and published years ago have seen new sales booms.

With its short and aesthetically pleasing videos, the TikTok book community has glamorized the act of reading. By reading a recommended novel, avid readers and book newbies alike gain a shared experience that links them to a broader community. These readers can then go on to post about the books they found on the app and further perpetuate the book-sharing cycle.

Typically, BookTok creators make videos reviewing books in a few short sentences or skip the review altogether, opting to instead compile quick montages of books for different moods, settings, astrological signs, Hogwarts houses, etc. Some of the community’s top creators include katie.bookss, thebookwhisperer and readingxan .

Among TikTok’s most viewed book-related videos there is quite a bit of overlap when it comes to recommended books — many of which fall under the category of young adult fiction. Three books that have been mentioned in countless BookTok videos include “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is characteristic of the many emotionally rich stories that have found fame through the platform. Although the novel was acclaimed before its TikTok rise — winning the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for best young adult fiction — BookTok brought the novel to new heights.

The novel follows the ultra-wealthy Sinclair family as they spend their summers insulated from the world on their private island. In learning about the lives of the family and their friends, readers escape into another dimension filled with luxury, love, adventure and drama.

At first “We Were Liars” induces feelings of envy and wonder but this soon dissipates as readers progress through the story. Lockhart’s fast-paced book is heartbreaking and eye-opening, touching on topics such as class, mental illness, family relationships and power.

Although the book is not groundbreaking and, in some instances, moves too fast to fully encapsulate its plot and characters’ sentiments, it is undoubtedly shocking, intriguing and horrifying (in the best ways possible). It is no wonder why BookTok is obsessed with this book; it’s easy to read and perfect to recommend to readers who enjoy binge-reading or new readers who want something quick yet moving and thought-provoking.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is a beautiful and intricate tapestry of a book that weaves together storylines and characters in the most riveting way possible. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a master of character development as she works details of her protagonists’ life stories and personalities into her novel.

Her novel follows Monique Grant as she meets with and writes her tell-all book about the infamous movie star Evelyn Hugo, who, in her youth, lived an extremely dynamic and dramatic life — especially in terms of her many love affairs. Like “We Were Liars,” “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” offers its readers a glimpse into the glamour and glitz of society’s elite, while also acknowledging the realities and toxicity of America’s most powerful and idolized celebrities and figures.

Jenkins Reid expertly derails images of an idealized Hollywood, forcing her readers to acknowledge the destructive obsession the public has with martyrizing stars. Also like “We Were Liars,” “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” builds up to a story-shattering shock, showing that if there is anything that links the preferences of BookTok’s diverse creator pool, it’s their mutual love of a jaw-dropping twist.

“They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera

The many TikTok reviews of the book “They Both Die at the End” always emphasize the same key points and feelings toward Adam Silvera’s award-winning novel: that the story of two boys on their final day on Earth provokes uncontrollable, ugly crying and that when Silvera chose the title “They Both Die at the End,” it wasn’t some clever, deceiving joke.

Despite knowing all of this, it is still hard to come to terms with the predestined death of the book’s two protagonists, Mateo and Rufus. The story begins as both of the boys receive notifications from a death-predicting service that they will die within the next 24 hours. Both characters are young and their lives seem strikingly incomplete. They still have so much to live for, so many problems they still need to solve and so many experiences to try.

On their last day on Earth, Mateo and Rufus become unlikely friends who attempt to navigate their grief and shock together rather than living out their final day alone. Although this book only takes place over one day, it contains a lifetime of wisdom, emotion and love, exploring topics such as loss, bravery, friendship, social media and more.

At times the dialogue of “They Both Die at the End” is bland and lackluster but overall, the book is captivatingly melancholic, encouraging its readers to find resolve and meaning in their own lives before time runs out.

BookTok as a Whole

Overall, “We Were Liars,” “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “They Both Die at the End” speak to the credibility of BookTok as a whole. Although many of the community’s most recommended books fall under the young adult category, which can sometimes be seen in the novels’ simplistic language and flow, the books can be read and enjoyed by everyone.

TikTok novels are easy to read yet stick around with the reader for a while afterward. Featuring numerous plot twists and heart-dropping moments, the books are great for anyone wanting to experience a bit of excitement from the comfort of their own home.

Unlike other book communities, BookTokers aren’t concerned with page counts or prestige. Instead, they offer straightforward book recommendations that are generally well-received. TikTok’s book community is the future of recreational reading, providing a place where book suggestions can be shared with little strife or competition. In joining BookTok, you join a community that is ready and overjoyed to welcome new faces to share their love of reading with.

Lauren Koop, London School of Economics - Peking University

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Lauren Koop

London School of Economics - Peking University
International Affairs

Hello all! My name is Lauren and I am a first year grad student at PKU. My interests include: books, art, culture, world happenings, lifestyle and language. So excited to share my writing with y’all!

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