I’m your typical millennial TikTok user. You know, the one who consumes the most viral videos when they emerge weeks later in my Instagram feed. I’m still mildly wary of the platform where I am decidedly a lurker, not yet an active creator. I forget about TikTok for days on end, partially in an honest attempt to not get sucked into another social media platform but also because I am still slightly bewildered by it all. However, there is one thing that entices me to open the app. Fellow elder millennials, listen up. Let me tell you about a magical little place called #BookTok.
In a nutshell: BookTok is a (massive) corner of the app where users post quick videos, reviewing and recommending novels that generally fall within the genre of young adult and romance. They’re passionate and creative—and there are even fantasy accounts dedicated to fan-favorite characters featured in the most popular TikTok books.
It’s a collection of young, impassioned readers inspiring countless others to join the club, of which they are in packs. (The hashtag is currently sitting at nearly 190 billion views). And while it can’t quite be quantified, we do know that BookTok is driving book sales and even publishing deals thanks to this wildfire word-of-mouth trend.
Featured image from our interview with Roti Brown.
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What is a TikTok book?
A TikTok book is quite simply a book that has organically gained popularity on the app. This is very much about judging a book by its cover, and there’s no shame in that. Once you’ve spent some time in this world, you can easily spot the signs. There is often a fantasy element with romance at the center. You’ll find book recommendations based on popular tropes like “forced proximity,” “who did this to you,” and of course, “enemies to lovers.”
Why is BookTok so popular?
Like any good trend, BookTok simply makes reading cool again. It’s introducing young readers to a world beyond a syllabus. One where they can escape their own lives through a relatable main character on a fantastical journey. The pandemic changed everything—including the way we read and hear about books. The BookTok community bridged the gap with videos titled, “books that will make you fall in love with reading,” and “books that left me heartbroken and shattered for days.” In short, BookTok positions reading as accessible—aspirational, even.
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The 21 Best BookTok Recommendations to Pick Up, Stat
Time for the big reveal! I recruited two Camille Styles editors and all-around book lovers Bridget Chambers and Isabelle Eyman to help me review as many TikTok bestsellers as possible. These are our 21 best BookTok recommendations. They are all terribly juicy, engrossing, and oh-so-perfect for the cozy reading season.
1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Genre: Thriller & Suspense
Review: As much as I love to curl up with a book, it’s rare that I [neglect my family to] read an entire book in a single day. But this one had me hooked from line one—I just had to know who did it. Even a slight predictability couldn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying the ride. If you like a plot that takes off like a runaway train and keeps pace until the very end, you’ll love this whodunnit where the perfectly cast Irish setting takes center stage. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a television near you? The author hinted that The Guest List has been optioned as a TV series—time will tell.
2. Every Summer After by Carley Fortune
Review: Every Summer After is the perfect summertime read about a summertime romance between best friends. It’s People We Meet on Vacation meets The Summer I Turned Pretty, and had me incredibly attached to and invested in every character. My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed, but that’s probably because I didn’t want it to end at all. — Bridget
3. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Horror Fiction
Review: October is the perfect time to pick up this slightly scary and yet very engrossing novel. It’s the perfect book to correspond with spooky season without being pure horror. Personally, I’m not a horror fan but I do love a good mystery with a dark and looming house involved. This one does get a little bit icky but it didn’t keep me up at night. I’d read it again. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a streaming service near you—Mexican Gothic is in development as a Hulu Original Series produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.
4. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Genre: Fiction Romance
Review: I was on the hunt for a breezy romcom and had high hopes for The Wedding Date. The meet-cute is indeed cute but unfortunately, I found it a bit eye-roll-inducing throughout. I didn’t find the characters to be likable or super reliable and the open-door scenes felt more gratuitous than anything else. However, the end was (again) cute and it was a decent palette cleanser between novels. — Brittany
5. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Genre: Science Fiction
Review: Along with the stellar reviews and numerous recommendations, I was first drawn to the magic-adjacent aspect of this story. A library where you can “try on” different lives? I needed to know more. But for some reason, I just never found myself lost in the story. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t want to—I found it quite sad (if not also beautiful) and a bit predictable. Still, I do enjoy Matt Haig’s writing style, and yes, I’m in the minority as The Midnight Library has amassed nearly 200 thousand reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon. (Trigger warning: the story centers around an attempted suicide.) — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a movie theater near you—StudioCanal and Blueprint Pictures have optioned the film rights.
6. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: This book is a beautiful, heartbreaking, empowering epic-adjacent story and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I typically avoid books that will 100% make me cry but with Kirstin Hannah, it always feels earned and worthwhile. This one was made all the more better with some perfect casting in my head, Gwendoline Christie (aka, Game of Thrones’ Brienne of Tarth) as Elsa Wolcott. — Brittany
7. The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: Bridget has long sung the praises of this beautiful novel and I am in utter agreement. It is a story stunningly told of two sisters in war-torn France, where both the characters and the setting vividly come to life in beautiful, easy prose. If you’ve yet to pick it up, this is your sign. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a movie theater near you—real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning have been cast as Vianne and Isabelle.
8. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Genre: Fiction Romance
Review: What’s a TikTok book roundup without an Emily Henry novel? I’m new to the delightful world of Emily Henry, I must admit, and this was the perfect introduction. Henry masters the art of the rom-com. The story is fun and witty, the characters’ nuances feel earned, and the lightness is well-balanced with grounded storytelling. I’m officially joining the Emily Henry fan club. — Brittany
9. Verity by Colleen Hoover
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Review: This might be a very controversial opinion, but Verity is by far my favorite Colleen Hoover novel. While Hoover is most popular for her romance novels, Verity is a thriller that kept me turning pages long after my bedtime… and then made me too scared to turn off the lights. It’s one of those books that has you thinking about it long after you read the last page and contains one of my favorite endings to discuss with friends. — Bridget
10. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Genre: Fiction Romance
Review: I have heard and seen more about It Ends With Us than any other TikTok book. It’s in the process of becoming a movie, and I have no doubt that the movie will garner the same level of attention. Perhaps because the hype was so intense, I felt slightly let down by the book, considering I didn’t have the same visceral reaction that everyone else seems to have. This book does deserve a trigger warning, however, considering it discusses some harsh realities about domestic abuse. — Bridget
Coming Soon: A movie, potentially. The rights were purchased by Justin Baldoni’s company Wayfarer Entertainment in 2019.
11. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
Genre: Fiction Romance
Review: Love and Other Words is a very similar read as Every Summer After, which is probably why I liked it so much. I’m a sucker for a good best friends-turned-lovers plot, and Macy’s and Elliot’s story is one of my favorites. They are a testament that some bonds truly can never be broken and if something is meant to be, it will be. Even though it’s a fictional story, it warmed my heart to the fullest. — Bridget
12. A Court of Thorns and Roses The Series by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Review: And now we come to the series that launched a thousand (more like a million) BookTokers. I decided to pick up the first book in the series to see what all the hype was about. The PLAN was to stop there and read a few more TikTok books to provide the most reviews I could muster. Friends, I have let you down. Or have I… ?
I am currently savoring book five in this ongoing series. The hype was real, at least for me. I love a plot-driven, world-building, good versus evil story. I love a character who’s special in ways yet to be revealed. I love a love story with tension (that enemies-to-lovers trope is a good one). If any of those sound appealing to you, welcome to the world of—as the BookTokers call it—ACOTR. (P.S. It gets a little spicy.) — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a streaming service near you. Hulu has optioned the rights with Outlander showrunner Ron Moore at the helm.
13. Throne of Glass The Series by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance
Review: Before there was ACOTR, there was the Throne of Glass series. I actually read this series first even though it’s not the most popular of the two. And I enjoyed it for a few reasons, one of which is a bit unexpected.
You see, Sarah J. Maas began writing her first novel, the first in this series, at sixteen years old. Yep. And what I found to be truly engaging throughout the series was simply witnessing her writing grow and mature with each book. I also loved the unexpected twists and turns that Maas is now known for. There are seven books in the series and my favorite character (Yrene, perfectly imagined in my head as Zendayah) shows up in book six. — Brittany
P.S. Despite my love for the story, I was always totally thrown off by the covers and it seems marketing got the memo. The books re-release in February 2023 with sleek new covers.
14. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the first #BookTok book that I read. It immediately transported me to the glory days of Old Hollywood and sucked me into the world of the rich and famous that isn’t as fabulous as it’s chalked up to be. Evelyn Hugo is a character who everybody will feel and root for, envy and pity. Fun fact: All of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books have characters that cross over from novel to novel, so Malibu Rising fans will recognize Mick Riva as one of the seven husbands. — Bridget
Coming Soon: To a streaming service near you—Netflix is developing the film.
15. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Review: This novel easily features one of the most intriguing elevator pitches: a young woman makes a deal for immortality. In exchange, she’s doomed to be forgotten… until she walks into a bookstore 300 years later and a boy remembers her name. Right?! Listen, it delivers. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like a book with mystery, magic, and a little spice, this is the one for you. Another good one for spooky season. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a movie theater near your—eOne acquired rights to the movie, which will be produced by Gerard Butler’s company G-Base.
16. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
Genre: Fiction Romance
Review: Imagine getting assigned to write a profile on your celebrity crush, having him/her fall for you, spending an entire weekend with him/her, and then reuniting a decade later for a follow-up interview. It’s something that my 15-year-old dreams were made of, but with clever dialogue and a little spice. Totally unrealistic and slightly cheesy, but one of my favorite novels to escape real life. — Bridget
17. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Review: This book goes in my top 10 of all time and I will forever recommend it to anyone who asks. It is so many things at once which makes it wildly appealing. I’m talking laugh-out-loud funny, endearing, adventurous, and leaves you in awe of the resilience of the human spirit. But there’s also a compelling mystery and an entire “lone man must save the world” plotline. I truly enjoyed Weirs’ first book, The Martian, and this one is even better. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a movie theater near you—with none other than RYAN GOSLING in the lead role.
18. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Review: I just finished reading this buzzy book about two friends who create video games and, let me tell you, it was a good read. It’s contemporary but still creates (literally and figuratively) its own type of world, and having no video game knowledge myself, I was excited to dive into something new. There were truly just so many layers to the story and now having finished, I can say it was a really beautiful experience. I went into it knowing very little but some may appreciate a trigger warning. If that’s you, just do a little research before you pick it up. — Brittany
Coming Soon: To a movie theater near you—Paramount Pictures acquired the movie rights for a cool $2 million.
19. The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Review: While I usually prefer a hard copy rather than an audiobook, The Five-Star Weekend was the perfect listen. Elin Hilderbrand is very much worth the hype and writes about Nantucket in a way that’s dreamy and wistful without falling into a cliché. I’m loving the transition to books about women exploring new beginnings in mid-life, and Hilderbrand executed the trope perfectly. If you want drama and a heartwarming narrative with female friendship at the center, pick this up. — Isabelle
20. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Review: Of course you’re going to pick up a memoir with such a proactive title. And frankly, you’ll be glad you did. Child star Jennette McCurdy (of iCarly fame) doesn’t hold anything back. In its pages, she reveals the truths behind the glitz of television and the reality of growing up with an abusive mother. It’s admittedly hard to read at times, but McCurdy writes honestly and openly about the challenge of protecting your own mental and emotional well-being against a parent you’re expected to trust. — Isabelle
21. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Genre: Literary fiction
Review: Of all the best BookTok recommendations, this will forever be my go-to. Ottessa Moshfegh writes like no other contemporary author I’ve ever picked up. And this strange not-quite-a-plot narrative (only vibes) pulls you in from the beginning. The writing encapsulates you with the unnamed narrator’s loneliness and search for meaning, and it’ll have you reflecting on the purpose behind every moment. It gets existential at times as all the best BookTok recommendations should. — Isabelle
This post was originally published on October 6, 2022, and has since been updated.