BookTok is a subculture on TikTok that focuses on book reviews and recommendations, and it can often be a hotbed of controversy. Recently, the novel “One Last Stop” was released and many accounts affiliated with BookTok rushed to review it — but not everyone was a fan.
The page is now shut down, but one BookTok user elected to pan the book because of the central sapphic storyline. They said, “I think the biggest reason I’m not a fan of ‘One Last Stop’ is that they’re lesbians.” This reaction caused a mass uproar.
Since then, many accounts have jumped to critique lesbophobia or offer up sapphic book recommendations. This is exciting because sapphic books have long been underrepresented in reading circles, chiefly because of the popularity of young adult fiction with young straight women, who, like the user who disliked “One Last Stop,” enjoy gay male relationships but are grossed out by lesbians or sapphic relationships in fiction. This can be seen with many forms of media, though it does seem to be especially pronounced in YA fiction.
It also appears in relation to shows targeted at young women, like in “Supernatural” where Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins’ characters were a fan favorite pairing but many hated Felicia Day’s character, who was a lesbian. Ultimately, the show opted away from making her a central player, perhaps because of the mixed response to her character. Then there’s the prevalence of boys’ love or yaoi manga and anime, which is especially well represented on fan fiction sites and Tumblr, while girls’ love or yuri anime and manga have far fewer followers.
There’s also the “Harry Potter” fandom, which created the pairing of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy but often struggled with how to regard the female characters. Hermione as a main character escaped most of the fandom’s ire but Ginny, who was straight but intruded on fans’ ships, did not.
All of this makes the reaction of many BookTok accounts exciting — suddenly sapphic readers and allies have a new wealth of books where, previously, it was hard to source more recently published stories. Some popular recommendations are as follows:
The loss of a secret girlfriend prompts this book’s protagonist toward a deeper understanding and acceptance of herself with a chance at new love. Note: difficult topics such as death and alcoholism. Recommendation here. Available for purchase here.
Seeped in Hollywood glamor, this book is a beautifully tragic tale of secret love. Recommendation from here and available for purchase here.
And, of course, the book that started the controversy: “One Last Stop”
A romance that is almost supernatural, set in the subway. Can be purchased here.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. A few unfortunate reviews seem to have awoken a mob of sapphic reviewers and allies ready with all the books your romantic soul could desire. While the outpouring of support certainly does not erase the issues present in BookTok and various fandoms, it is reassuring to see. Here’s to a summer reading list Sappho would approve!