Which 'BookTok' Books Are Worth It?

Lifestyle

Seemingly everything that trends on TikTok begins to trend in the real world. The way people dress, the foods people eat, and people’s humor have all been vastly impacted by the social media platform. Back in September, the company announced that, “More than 1 billion people around the world now come to TikTok every month to be entertained as they learn, laugh, or discover something new.” Which means that more than a billion people’s everyday life could be impacted by a short video. That certainly has remained true for many people when it comes to reading books.

BookTok has become a phenomenon on the app, and it certainly is still getting more popular. It started off as users just posting about books: their thoughts, opinions, and recommendations. As that type of content became more popular, BookTok was formed. BookTok is a combination of “Book” and “TikTok”. The tens of thousands of videos posted under the hashtag “#BookTok” have amassed over 31.7 billion views! The community on TikTok has gotten so many people into or back into reading, and if that’s you, you may be wondering, what BookTok books are actually worth it, and which aren’t? Here’s what I think.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection is the first book in a series of five young-adult books that are set in a dystopian world. The story first follows America Singer as a young girl growing up in the futuristic Illeá, the United States of America turned into an abusive monarchy. She grew up poor due to the country’s caste system, so when she had the opportunity to marry the prince via a process called “the Selection” her mother jumped at it and bribed her into entering. From then on, it’s history.

Although not the most complex of writing, the series, and specifically The Selection, go down as an all-time favorite. Surprisingly not predictable, I fell in love with characters like Maxon and Marlee. I finished the 5 books in less than two days, I was so obsessed. The heartbreak, romance, and suspense pull you in. Not to mention the twists and turns that I did not expect. A truly fantastic read, I would recommend the book to almost any teenager.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Before reading the book, I highly suggest looking up its trigger warnings.

It Ends With Us is a story about escaping domestic abuse. The story follows protagonist Lily Bloom, an aspiring entrepreneur living in Boston. The book flashes back from her childhood to present day. Soon after her father’s funeral, she meets a charming neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincaid, on a rooftop. The two had undeniable chemistry but after realizing they didn’t have what each other wanted, they parted ways until six months later. When Lily runs into Ryle at her new flower shop, their relationship begins to blossom, until it doesn’t anymore.

For the first time in a while, I couldn’t put down a book. This story captivated me in every way possible. I truly loved it. At first I was obsessed with this new boy, Ryle, then it was Lily’s letters to Ellen, and then the journey of escape. There was always something new coming up that I could love. The author, Colleen Hoover, does an excellent job portraying abuse and Lily’s feelings. Additionally, the book sheds some insight into what it is like to grow up in a household where the father frequently abused the mother. That’s what really made the book special. It Ends With Us is a heartbreaking novel that I believe everyone should read at least once in their life.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People We Meet on Vacation is a slow-burn romance novel centered around two best friends: Poppy Wright and Alex Nilsen. The two met in college at the University of Chicago, and little did they know, they were from the same part of Ohio. Their friendship led to vacations every summer for around a decade, until their disastrous visit to Croatia. Two years of separation later, Poppy aspires to rekindle the friendship they once had. When Alex agrees, the two friends are able to reconnect while igniting something new, or at least what readers thought was new.

I think my problem with this book was that I set my expectations far too high. Users on TikTok hyped the story to be “the best book I have read in 2021” and “it touched every part of my soul”. When that didn’t happen to me, I was disappointed. This book just didn’t have “it” for me. As mentioned earlier, it’s a slow-paced novel, which isn’t my favorite style. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, and the plot was fine. The book was just good, not great. For almost its entirety, the author made it seem like what happened in Croatia was horrible and the end of the world, but when I found out what happened, I thought the reaction was silly. Although I didn’t love the book like I have others, there were moments where I enjoyed it, so I’d say, give it a shot if you’d like.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars is a young adult novel that follows Cadence Sinclair, a teenage girl who is the granddaughter of a wealthy man. Along with her extended family, Cadence spends every summer on a private island where she’s gotten to bond with her cousins over the years. The Sinclairs are seemingly perfect, but in reality, they are far from that. Cadence's own story proves that. After she suffers a head injury one summer, her world is turned upside down.

This book both confused me, and shocked me. There are readers on opposite sides of the spectrum; some loved the book and others did not. I’m on the latter of those two. I was not fond of this story. I didn’t fully understand its plot and concepts. When the big secret was finally revealed, I found myself stunned, but the book’s previous lack of entertainment determined my feelings about this story. The story did a good job portraying “perfect” families while dissecting what actually goes on behind the scenes though. It truly is a hit or miss with this one.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna was on the verge of entering her senior year of high school in Atlanta, her world was flipped upside down as her father forced her to go to a boarding school in Paris. When she’s found crying in her dorm room by her neighbor Meredith, she is consoled and, the next morning, is invited to sit with Meredith’s friends. Anna becomes more acquainted with French culture, and its boys. In particular, Étienne St. Clair, the school’s heartthrob and member of her new friend group. The two go through a whirlwind of experiences together throughout their senior year, and Anna can only hope it’ll all work out for the best.

On BookTok, this isn’t the most popular book, it has its select group of fans hidden, so I consider myself lucky that I stumbled upon it. If I recall correctly, I think I read this book in one night. It was so good. Not the most well-written compared to other books on this list, it was still a lovable and charming story. Throughout the novel’s entirety, I wanted to be Anna while I rooted for her success. She was an interesting character, and a great protagonist. If you asked anyone who is French, they would likely tell you the cultural aspect of this book wasn’t necessarily accurate, but nonetheless, being set in France was what brought the story to life. An endearing and adorable tale, I’d recommend this book to any romance lovers.

Well, that’s it for now, and it’s only 5 books! Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds. One is a world of books.”, and I think that quote is becoming more applicable to my life every day. I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to so many wonderful books thanks to BookTok, and can’t wait to read, explore, review, and share even more books.

Ella Bilu
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Ella is currently a freshman at an independent school in Los Angeles. She enjoys reading, writing, and watching all types of sports. In her free time, you can find her working on graphic design, baking cookies, or playing soccer.