BookTok: the TikTok trend explained – and best recommendations

Here’s the story of how BookTok became so popular — and some of the best book recommendations from literary influencers on TikTok

There’s a place for every obsession on TikTok.

The app has evolved well beyond its dance origins, with users today sharing everything from their favorite recipes to their best budget travel tips to hilarious childhood memories told in multiple parts.

But for literary fanatics, the best corner of the social media platform is without a doubt #BookTok.

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Under the 69.7 billion-view hashtag, TikTok users are sharing their passion for books — discussing their top picks, sharing “relatable” content, and bringing the titles they love most to life online.

TikTok users share their passion for books using the 69.7 billion strong hashtag #BookTok

The tag focuses primarily on fiction for young adults, with book-loving influencers often spreading the same five to ten reading recommendations, but there’s also a place for those who love classics or non-fiction – as well as a sizable Harry Potter community, of course.

If you’re looking for your next favorite novel but don’t know exactly where to start, the recommended lists in the app range from books I cried to to series I’d sell my soul to, um reading them again for the first time”. .. so there’s bound to be something you like.

But if you just want to connect with like-minded people in an online book sanctuary – there are plenty of influencers whose videos focus on talking about their favorite characters or sharing their favorite literary quotes.

What is the impact of #BookTok on the literary community?

Many TikTokers in the BookTok community credit the space for helping them fall in love with reading (again or for the first time), much like “BookTube” — YouTube’s “book corner” — did for a number of years has done before.

But BookTok’s skyrocketing popularity has also caught the attention of authors and the publishing industry, many of whom now see the online community as a powerful place to market new and upcoming novels.

Kat McKenna, a marketing and branding consultant specializing in young adult literature, told The Guardian: “BookTok is exciting.

“They are short, entertaining videos [are] It offers a new, powerful way to reach and engage non-readers – to attract more book lovers.

“The Snapshot visual trailers cinematicize books in a way that publishers have long attempted to market book trailers, but the way TikTok users create images inspired by what they read, is so simple and so clever.”

That’s how aspiring author Alex Aster landed her publishing deal.

She released a video that began with the text “Would you read a book about…” and then went into a brief description of her novel, paired with on-trend audio and aesthetic imagery that reflected the plot.

Her video went viral, and now her debut young adult novel, Lightlark, will be published later this month. Universal Studios has also bought the film rights.

But it’s not just new authors who benefit from BookTok – established authors are also finding that their older books are being pushed back into the spotlight.

Author Taylor Reid Jenkins, whose first novel was published back in 2013, is one of BookTok’s favorite authors. It’s unlikely you can scroll through the hashtag without coming across two or three of her novels.

A similar effect is seen with Sarah J Maas’ 2015 fantasy series A Court of Thorns and Roses, which now effectively has its own community within BookTok.

A trend was even developed for Adam Silvera’s 2017 novel They Both Die at the End – with readers filming themselves before and after reading the book.

The result was that it rocketed back onto the charts in March 2022, four and a half years after its initial release, selling over 4,000 copies in one week.

What are the best books on BookTok?

Aside from its online popularity and impact on the publishing industry, BookTok is also just a great place to get new book recommendations, whatever the circumstances.

So here are some of the top books recommended by BookTok and the literary influencers on the platform.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins

A novel by Reid Jenkins, this will likely be the first book you come across on BookTok – and with good reason.

It follows the glamorous and scandalous life of Hollywood film icon Evelyn Hugo, narrated by magazine reporter Monique Grant. You’ll be immersed in the story from the first page, and it will be almost impossible to take your eyes off it until you reach the last one.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

This novel follows the protagonist, Olive Smith, who is a third-year PhD student. Covering many of BookTok’s favorite topics (like fake dating and science), it makes for a fun, easy read to enjoy in the sun.

3. If you’re a Shakespearean fan but want something modern, look no further than If we were villains by ML Rio.

If We Were Villains by ML Rio

Set in a Shakespearean drama school, this crime thriller is full of twists and turns. It’s structured into scenes, and the lines between the characters the actors play and who they really are gradually blur as the murder investigation unfolds. It’s a firm favorite on BookTok.

4. If you’re looking for a tearjerker, look no further than It ends with us by Colleen Hoover.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is another author you can’t escape from on BookTok. One of her favorite reads is It Ends With Us, the story of Lily Bloom. Most BookTokers say it’s best to read the book without knowing too much about the plot – so we’ll leave the mystery intact. (Warning: mentions of abuse)

5. If you want unique storytelling, try it The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief boomed in 2014 when a film adaptation was released, but BookTok has breathed new life into the book. Set in Germany during World War II, it tells the story of a young girl named Liesel and her family. But the most unique part of the novel is its narrative, as the narrator of the book is Death.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Even people who aren’t book fans have heard of Normal People after the story caused a sensation with the release of the Hulu TV adaptation in 2020. But the community on BookTok is still raving about Connell and Marianne’s simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking love story, so it’s an idea to try before diving into the BookTok community.