There are many sides to the social media app TikTok, with one of the most unexpected being BookTok. BookTok is a community of people who share opinions, reviews, and recommendations on a variety of books through short clips.

Whether it’s a raving five-star review or the latest scandal in cancel culture, Booktok will have something to say about it. This is largely positive, as it’s an innovative way to get younger people into reading and encourage them to have conversations about literature.

These days, the power of social media is enough to make someone famous and even make a first-time author, bestselling. Most bookshops, including Waterstones, now have a BookTok dedicated section.

The first book you will find in almost any BookTok section is ‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeleine Miller. This emotional re-telling of the Iliad focusses on the relationship between Achilles the demigod and his best friend and love interest Patroclus. It’s both a romance and tragedy, re-telling Greek mythology in a way I have never seen before. I definitely would not have picked this book up if it weren’t for the hype surrounding it on TikTok.

Another book that’s popular among the community is the YA psychological thriller ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart. It tells the story of a group of teenagers who vacation with their family on a private island during summer. The main character, Candace, suffers a head injury and cannot remember anything from the trip. The novel is critically acclaimed, with users from TikTok even sharing clips of themselves crying over the book.

The 2020 Audie Awards Gala, New York City
Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

While BookTok is doing amazing things for some authors, it’s also calling out others. A huge controversy this year has been surrounding ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Clune. The novel follows a case-worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who has to decide whether a group of children are capable of causing the end of the world.

While the majority of people enjoyed this novel, BookTok member and YouTuber Jack Edwards, among others, mentioned in a video that there are problematic elements of this book to be considered. He claimed that Clune was inspired by events that occurred in the 50’s and 60’s in Canada where 20,000 Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their homes and forced to live in foster care.

The question to be asked is, is it within the rights of the author to package up someone else’s trauma for a book? Some people think it is acceptable, a lot think it is not. However, this question may never have arisen if it were not for opinion-sharing platforms such as TikTok. It has a stronger impact than you would think.

If you’re searching through #BookTok, you won’t be able to escape clips about ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ by Taylor Jenkins or ‘They Both Die at the End’ by Adam Silvera. Both of these novels have been at the top of the hashtag for quite some time. Jenkins’ book is historical fiction about an Old Hollywood star’s life and Silvera’s story is a YA novel about two boys who find out they only have a day to live. While they are extremely different, they both gained popularity through BookTok; there really is something for everyone.

Whether it’s fantasy, horror, or romance, if you’re in a reading rut and looking for the book to get you out of it, you might just find it on #BookTok!

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