In the spring of 2020, the initial quarantine of COVID-19, there was a huge increase in book sales. Meanwhile, the creators of TikTok have started reviewing and sharing their favorite books. It grew into a whole community, dubbed “BookTok,” of readers who shared recommendations on novels, genres, and authors. These creators are mostly Gen Z and the subject matter of these books certainly reflects the demographics. The diversity in characters and storylines varies much more than the bestsellers of the past.
BookTok appears to influence many bestseller lists across the country and draw attention to more young new authors and diverse voices. Chloe Gong published her novel Romeo and Juliet “These Violent Delights” during her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. The novel is set in 1920s Shanghai and instead of arguing over Italian families, it features warring gangs. The book exploded on TikTok almost immediately and the sequel, due out in November, is already considered a bestseller.
Booksellers started to catch the trend as some books sold out quickly. Barnes and Noble took advantage of this by creating a “BookTok table” in stores and a #BookTok page on their website that features all of the popular TikTok books. The novels range from young adult fiction (YA) like Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy adventure trilogy, “Shadow and Bone”, to more mature material like “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, which chronicles mental health and the age of anxiety. Some of the books have been out for some time, such as “The Secret History” by Alfred A. Knopf (1992) and “Dead Poets Society” by Nancy H. Kleinbaum (2006), but have recently gained popularity due to their popularity on TikTok.
TikTok users are also particularly interested in certain genres and aesthetics. Many creators shared their love for the morally gray protagonists / love interests and the ‘enemies of lovers’ trope. Books like The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and “Dance of Thieves” by Mary E. Pearson have gained popularity in part because of these trends. One of the most critically acclaimed TikTok series is Leigh Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and the “Six of Crows” duology. Netflix has produced (and is currently creating Season 2 of) a series based on Bardugo’s books.
Many TikTok users said the BookTok community inspired them to start reading in their spare time for the first time since elementary school. I believe the Spring 2020 40s has helped teens and young adults reconnect with their love of reading. College students are some of the biggest book reviewers (and readers) on TikTok, so I decided to ask Point Loma students to share their favorite “BookTok” book with me and give all of you a review.
Madeline Miller’s Achilles Song
Comment from Daeny Piequet
“The Song of Achilles “ by Madeline Miller is a fascinating and beautifully written story of the demigod-warrior, Achilles and his lover Patroclus. From Homer’s “Iliad”,“ the theme of the Greek gods and warriors is interwoven throughout the story. We follow these characters throughout their history from childhood to adulthood. They end up building an incredible friendship that continues as they get older, which blossoms into an all-consuming love that draws you in from the moment these characters start talking. There are so many details throughout the book that bring the story to life and make you feel all the emotions, from love and heartbreak to pure joy.
They both die at the end by Adam Silvera
Claire Plath live review
In the book “They both die at the end” the book takes you through the lives of two teenage boys as they live their last day to the fullest they can. The book makes you realize how precious each day is and how we can make our own life our own by doing those things that will make each day we have meaningful and memorable. I first heard about the book because it was so popular on Tik Tok! Many different users recommended it and reviewed what they thought of the book. When I saw it was on sale at Target, I immediately bought it and started reading it. The book intrigued me and quickly caught my attention. The story of two young teenagers, Marcus and Rufus, both from completely different backgrounds, come together when told they have one day left to live. They spend their last day together, getting to know each other and the deep parts of what makes them who they are.
The title doesn’t water the ending at all. There is no way out, no way back, because in fact, they both die at the end. Yet the end of the book still makes me shed a tear even though I already knew what was going to happen before I read the first page. The love Marcus and Rufus developed for each other in a short span of just one day was expressed so beautifully in the book. The book itself is relevant and really fun to read! I would definitely recommend this must read book!
Six of Leigh Bardugo’s Crows
Review by Amelia Tsering
“Six of crows” by Leigh Bardugo stars the morally gray genius Kaz Brekker. He and five other criminals together undertake an almost impossible heist. The story takes place in a fictional universe in which a minority of people, called Grisha, possess inexplicable gifts. “Six of Crows” is written from six perspectives, but is cleverly woven with twists you wouldn’t expect. This book has both a compelling plot and well-developed characters and relationships. If you want a page turner with a complex story, “Six of Crows” is a wonderful read.
By: Amelia Tsering