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What Is BookTok (And 12 Great Book Recommendations For 2023)

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Many of us turn to TikTok for dance moves, makeup tutorials, trending fashion and cleaning tips. But did you know that it’s actually gone bookish? That’s right, we said bookish. BookTok, a subcommunity of the wildly popular platform TikTok, has racked up a total of 77 billion views to date.

This hot new literary space is filled with book suggestions, reviews, OTT reactions and sometimes hilarious reenactments. It seems that almost overnight, this passionate community of BookTokers has taken reading from a solitary and languishing activity and turned it into something, well, cool.

So how did it all get started, and what should you know about BookTok? We’re going to fill you in on this flourishing subculture as well as some of the most popular reads for 2023. 

Editor Favorites:

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Rating

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Family of Liars By E. Lockhart

Family of Liars By E. Lockhart

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

How Did BookTok Get Started?

When TikTok user Cait Jacobs did her first book post in 2020, she probably had no idea she was about to launch a literary phenomenon. But her video became so popular that it inspired a host of other bookworm influencers to begin creating their own content.  

And views weren’t the only thing that started to grow. Thanks to the creativity and enthusiasm of BookTokers, literary sales also started to rise, with some titles finding their way onto the New York Times best seller list. Though some of these titles were new, others were up to a decade old and suddenly regaining new life and sales.

One literary Cinderella story is that of author Madeline Miller whose book The Song of Achilles had an initial printing of 20,000 copies in 2012. But when it caught fire on TikTok, sales took off, and today the book has sold over two million copies. 

Naturally, publishers took note. 

BookTok’s Impact on Publishing

Think Oprah and Reese Witherspoon are the only people who can make a book fly off the shelf? Guess again!

When publishers noticed how this social media platform boosted sales, they naturally wanted to be a part of the BookTok phenomenon. Soon, they began to sponsor popular BookTokers to promote their titles and, in some cases, even published budding authors who had gained popularity on the app.

Barnes and Noble caught on relatively early to this literary trend and soon put a section devoted to “Trending on TikTok” in their store displays and on their website.

But lest you think that BookTok is just a publishing house machine, don’t despair. Because there’s something different about BookTok. 

Why Is BookTok Different?

Traditional book reviews might focus on the plot, writing or the characters, but TikTok is a little different. While some BookTokers do include these things in their reviews, the most popular videos are the emotional reactions that video creators have to the books they’ve read.

In some cases, we’re talking about crying, screaming and throwing objects. But at the end of the day, isn’t that what we want a book to do? To take us out of our everyday world and send us on an emotional journey?

So why big publishers may now be a part of BookTok, the core of the community is still everyday people and passionate readers having an emotional reaction to something they’ve read. In other words, it all comes down to word of mouth. 

What You’ll Find on BookTok

While young adult fiction was one of the main subjects when BookTok first got started, other categories have since taken off. Whether you’re into Sci Fi, Romance or love a good thriller, you’re sure to find plenty of content.

And, yes, even classics get a little attention on the app. Here are a few things that you can expect if this is your first time in this popular literary space.

Book Reviews and Recommendations

As mentioned, BookTok is full of book reviews and suggestions, many of them not very traditional. So if you’re looking to fill out your reading list, the app is a very entertaining way to find new books to cuddle up with. 

One approach that has become popular among content creators is the “story time” trend. This is where BookTokers present the plot of a book as their own story, only revealing at the end of the video that the dilemma is actually from a novel they’ve read. 

Looking for something specific? Say a literary trope like enemies to lovers or say a real tear jerker? Type in the subject you’re looking for, and you’ll find a slew of suggestions. Check out this video for books that will have you weeping.

And lest you think it’s all about love, there are also videos about books that aren’t living up to expectations. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@edenreidreads/video/7084991933579365638?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&q=outrageous%20booktok%20reviews&t=1668448436926

Connect with Published Authors

Want to connect with your favorite authors? Popular writers like Ayana Gray, Aiden Thomas, and Victoria Aveyard (just to name a few) all spend time on the app. They often use the platform for book giveaways, new book reveals, to talk about what they’re reading or offering advice on writing and publishing.

Aspiring Authors

New authors also use the app to promote their books and gain footing in the publishing world. Before Chloe Gang became a huge success, she gained a following on BookTok, which helped to launch her debut book These Violent Delights onto the New York Times Bestseller list. 

Cruise around BookTok, and you may just discover an author before they hit the big time. 

Indulge Your Book Fetishes

For some of us, reading romances involving English cottages and picnics in fields of flowers is more than a preference. It’s an obsession. Or perhaps your reading list consists solely of dark ghost stories. 

If you have a particular literary fetish, BookTok is the perfect place to indulge it. By typing in things like Cottage Core, Gothic Core,

Fantasy Core and Dark Academia, you can connect with your tribe on book recommendations and more.  

Related: How To Read Good Books For Free [For All Types Of Bookworms]

Most Popular Books on BookTok in 2022

Now that you have an idea of what BookTok is all about, let’s dive into some of the top book recommendations from the Booktok community for 2022—all of which are available on Amazon. 

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This sexy and action-packed YA fantasy is the first book in a series of four. It centers around nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre. When she kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature drags her off to a treacherous and magical land as retribution. 

But soon, her burning rage for her captor turns into a burning passion. Lovers of fantasy and romance, prepare to have your imaginations set on fire. 

2. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Love a romantic tear jerker? Then you need to put this heartbreaking novel on your list. When successful businesswoman Lily gets involved with handsome neurosurgeon Ryle, things are good. Like a little too good to be true.

As some nagging questions about her new love begin to grow, an old love makes a sudden reappearance in her life and threatens to destroy her relationship with Ryle. Come on, what romance reader can get enough of a classic love triangle?

3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aging starlet Evelyn Hugo gives you a taste of old Hollywood glamor as she recounts her scandalous life to a little known journalist. Along the way, we hear the story of, you guessed it, her seven husbands.

But which one was her true love, and what secrets will she reveal? A story of ruthless ambition and lost love, you want to miss out on this historical page turner

4. Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

In the mood for a good thriller? Then you’ll want to pick up this disturbing book by Lucy Christopher. When a young girl is kidnapped on her way to a family vacation, her captor hides her away in complete isolation and expects love in return.

Written as a letter from the girl to her captor, the book tells the tale of her living nightmare and her fight for survival. Both heartbreaking and captivating, this is a satisfying read all around. 

5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This New York Times #1 Best Seller and debut novel has sold over 15 million copies. A coming of age story and murder mystery, it takes us back to a coastal town in North Carolina in 1969.

When the handsome and popular town quarterback shows up dead, the first suspect is a reclusive girl named Kya, who’s been surviving on her own in the marshes for years. This beautiful and atmospheric novel will draw you in as the mystery around the so-called “Marsh Girl” and her possible crime unravels. 

And if you love a good movie remake, you can also stream “Where the Crawdads Sing” on Prime Video.

6. Family of Liars By E. Lockhart

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

If you liked the mystery and thrilling storyline of We Were Liars, you’ll love Family of Liars. This new book by E. Lockart debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, spending 13 years in the top 10. Family of Liars is a prequel to Summer Fifteen, the summer when Cadence loses her memory from a blow to the head. Join the Sinclair family for another mysterious summer of secrets. 

Related: The Best Kurt Vonnegut Books [Everyone Should Read]

7. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

If it’s a serious drama you’re craving, look no further. Yaa Gyasi’s follow up to her acclaimed novel Homegoing paints an intimate portrait of an immigrant family as they try to cope with overwhelming grief.

With a brother that overdosed on heroin and a now suicidal mother, Ph.D. candidate Gifty tries to find a scientific explanation for her family’s suffering. Along the way, she has to confront her own demons and grapple with her conflicted relationship with the Evangelical church in which she was raised.

8. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Then again, sometimes you just want a book that you can read on the beach. Even when summer is long over, and you’re breaking out the fall sweaters and hot chocolate. 

BookTokers are obsessed with this juicy title that’s filled with witty banter, romance and Hollywood glitz. The story? Ten years ago, novice reporter Chani Horowitz did a profile of famed actor Gabe Parker and ended up in an unexpected whirlwind affair.

After a decade, she finally has the writing career of her dreams but can’t seem to shake the questions about her infamous interview. So when Gabe’s PR offers up a reunion, she tries to resist but finds it impossible to say no. 

Was that long weekend as memorable for Gabe as it was for her? You’ll find out!

9. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

This breakout YA thriller focuses on a misfit native American teen, Daunis, who dreams of a fresh start at college. But when a family tragedy thrusts her back to the reservation, she witnesses a murder and ends up as an undercover agent in an FBI drug investigation. 

Along the way, dark secrets are exposed, and old demons surface, forcing Daunis to make hard choices as she learns what it is to be a strong Anishinaabe woman. 

10. The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

This is a follow up story from The Atlas Six, which follows six gifted recruits who try to earn their place in the supersecret and prestigious Alexandrian Society. The team will spend a year together studying the Society’s archives and growing their powers. Of the six, only five recruits will be initiated. Mystery and suspense grow as the characters struggle to find their moral compass as one recruit dies and another vanishes. 

The Atlas Paradox provides a little more comedy to the story, but the time has come for each recruit to pick a side—will they preserve the world or destroy it? 

11. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The bad news? Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio have been informed they’re going to die today. The good news? They’re both looking to make a friend on their “End Day.” Luckily, there’s an app for that.

When these two strangers meet up and try to live an entire lifetime in one day, you’ll want to be along for the ride. Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Silvera’s novel reminds us that there is no life without death. 

12. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Entertainment Weekly described this best-selling book by Alex Michaelides as “Hitchcockian suspense” with “Agatha Christie plotting.” In other words, it’s a killa thrilla. 

Famous painter Alicia Berenson seems to have a perfect life. Until she shoots her fashion photographer husband in the face five times and never utters another word. 

Locked away in a forensic unit, the price of her art and her notoriety continue to rise. But all remains a mystery until criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber arrives on the scene and tries to uncover her motivations. His obsession takes him down a dark path, where he ultimately begins to question his own motivations.  

All’s Well That Ends With Another Great Book

Just when we thought people didn’t read anymore, BookTok came along and proved us all wrong. Filled with entertaining reviews, outrageous emotional reactions, budding authors and literary fetishes, it proves that reading and book clubs are definitely trending.

We book lovers all know that sad feeling you have when you finish an amazing book. But now, when that book ends, you’ll have endless suggestions for finding your next literary love. 

Happy reading! 

You might also be interested in: 15 Ways To Start Reading More Books Right Now [Reader Guide]

The Top BookTok Books Of 2022:

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  2. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  6. Family of Liars By E. Lockhart
  7. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  8. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
  9. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
  10. The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake
  11. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  12. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Sherry De Alba

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