The Enchanting World of BookTok

Everyone (at least, almost everyone) is familiar with the hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok. It‘s grown from a small video editing app to become one of the world’s biggest communication and social media forums, especially for the youngest generations, though older generations participate as well.

Like most social media apps, TikTok implements what we nebulously call the “algorithm” to determine what content they will include in their members’ For You page.

This results in a variety of niches known by such names as WitchTok, AltTok, PsychTok, and even BookTok, for those who enjoy the inside jokes in young adult novels.

“BookTok” is a niche within TikTok that discusses and reviews literature. In my case, the BookToks I see thanks to the algorithm are related to my genres of preference such as historic fiction, young adult, sci-fi, and books popular in my age group. However, BookTok contains niches within itself for any genre of interest, such as Shakespearean literature, Victorian literature, and specific “fandoms” for Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, et cetera.

Many adolescents and even young adults relate reading to a chore, a tedious task in the way of other more pleasant hobbies such as watching the last season of You. I too paused everything to watch the last season of You which was (in my opinion) extraordinary, but it is also just as entertaining as many of the recommendations from BookTok. Here I will include some for everyone who might be interested in a ray of genres that they are already drawn to.

Most of these I have read myself, but based on popularity and the reviews (both on TikTok, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and the New York Times) I will include them here. My attempt will also be to spread the word on books that may not be as popular based on their connection to marginalized groups. Many books contain white, straight, cisgendered characters (who are usually protagonists), though as America progresses, so does our literature.

The first recommendation is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The genre of Mexican Gothic can be considered thriller, horror mystery, and it does a wonderful job at keeping the reader on their toes.

Set in Mexico City, 1950s, it follows the story of a young Mexican woman, Noemí Taboada, investigating her cousin’s whereabouts, and claiming that her husband is trying to murder her. Based on the reviews, this book is also considered a feminist novel. Though Mexican Gothic is a horror novel, it has spread like wildfire among the favorites of romantic, historic, feminist, and young adult readers.

If you have had any BookTok recommendations pop up on your For You page, then you have almost certainly heard of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

This romance and fantasy story is set during the Greek Heroic Age and reimagines or is considered a “spin off” of Homer’s Iliad. It follows the love story of Patroclus, son of King Menoetius and Achilles, son of Thetis and King Peleus. Though I have not read The Song of Achilles yet, every review contains a warning for heartbreak and a ton of tears.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid has been recommended on every platform by practically every book influencer ever. Though it is under the genre of historical fiction, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo falls firmly into niches in the LGBTQ+ and feminist community. The novel is set in Old Hollywood and is a nonlinear narrative of former starlet Evelyn Hugo. Like The Song of Achilles, this may be a very emotional, tear-jerking read for some.

As for the lovers of classic lit, they may be surprised to see Little Women by Louisa May Alcott make a comeback among young adults.

This is likely because Little Women (2019) was recently adapted into a film by Greta Gerwig, starring actors such as Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, and Florence Pugh among others. The movie received many plaudits, reviews, and accolades; so it is no surprise that the book has once again entered the pop culture sphere.

For the uninitiated, Little Women is the coming-of-age story of the March sisters and their journey from childhood into womanhood. It is set in Massachusetts during the American Civil War, following their father’s fall from wealth and his absence now that he too is a soldier.

It’s a heartwarming story of family, female empowerment, class and unconditional love. If you too find yourself in a hurry to absorb Louisa May Alcott’s most cherished classic, the 2019 film adaptation is (maybe almost) just as great.

By continuing to read and engage with social media entertainment that includes characters and plots outside of the mainstream norm, we elevate marginalized voices. By combining my passion for literature with an advocacy for human rights, I fulfill my interests and values.

Our consumption of media has a powerful effect on our market and the world we aim to see in the future. Therefore, by reading books of our interest in our spare time, we not only do a favor to ourselves but to what we want to see persist in the future market.