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#BookTok: What Books Trending on TikTok are Worth the Read

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Welcome to BookTok, a community free of chaos and problems of the modern world. Here, TikTok users gather to share their love (and other passionate feelings) of the classics, their niche favorite reads, new bookstore finds, and of course, book recommendations!

With 21.9 billion views and counting under the tag, the ever-growing community of BookTok holds a great deal of advice and information to sift through, and it can be difficult to determine which recommendations are actually worth the read. Luckily, I’ve spent my fair share of time on BookTok reading and analyzing the most popular recommendations, and I’m here to share them with you!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Worth it!

A BookTok favorite, The Song of Achilles, tells the story of an awkward, bashful Patroclus and the bold, beautiful Achilles, set in the Greek Heroic Age. In his youth, Patroclus finds a most unexpected companion in Achilles, and the two quickly develop an incredible bond. As they grow, Patroclus and Achilles are faced with decisions that test their relationship and make them question their true selves.

Through compelling prose, artful storytelling, and careful craftsmanship of her characters, Miller creates a beautiful retelling of Homer’s, The Illiad, told from the perspective of Patroclus. This is a story of love, heartbreak, and sacrifice that perfectly combines classic Greek mythology and young modern love. Warning: this is a tearjerker… but it’s worth your time and the tears. (P.S. If you love this, try Miller’s Circe next.)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: Skip it.

Brontë’s literary classic follows the story of Heathcliff, a restless orphan boy adopted by the wealthy Earnshaw family. While Heathcliff and the family’s daughter Catherine grow close, his presence creates a rift between the Earnshaws and the neighboring Linton family. Ultimately, Catherine is forced to make a choice concerning her pride and her family, which risks her impassioned relationship with Heathcliff.

While BookTok advertises Wuthering Heights as a romantic classic, Brontë’s story is more of a depressing tragedy. Brontë’s Wuthering Heights exemplifies the author’s talent and deserves its nomination as a classic, but if you’re desperate for some period-piece romance, try Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen instead.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: Worth it!

In her delightful friends-to-lovers slow burn, Henry depicts the relatable tale of Poppy, a young travel journalist desperate to rekindle her friendship with her ex-best friend and travel buddy Alex. People We Meet on Vacation alternates between flashbacks and the present day, telling the fun-loving, heartfelt stories of Alex and Poppy’s relationship as the novel builds towards the night that ultimately forced the two apart.

Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation could not be a more perfect contemporary romance. It’s a realistic, modern take on love that shares the realities of dating, friendship, and communication in early adulthood.  People We Meet on Vacation is a great leisurely read that is guaranteed to pull your heartstrings and make you laugh.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: Skip it.

Undoubtedly the most popular fantasy recommendation on BookTok, Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series takes an unusual spin on the fairy tale classic Beauty and the Beast. Main character Feyre is a mortal suddenly swept away into the world of the magical faeries. A stubborn soul, Feyre is desperate to get home, but High Lord Tamlin is determined to keep her.

While the premise is appealing, Maas’s faerie land fantasy world-building and character creation are ultimately lacking. The only redeeming quality of the novel is the fast-moving plot, but the over-detailed writing takes away from the speed and makes the novel feel lengthy. If you’re still in the mood for fantasy, I strongly recommend the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo (and the accompanying Netflix series)!

Normal People by Sally Rooney: Worth it!

My last recommendation is the book that BookTok simply can’t decide whether they love or hate: Normal People. While the Hulu adaption garnered large success and support, Rooney’s original storytelling of the relationship between Marianne and Connell remains disputed in the community due to her unique writing style and “surface-level” characters, as stated by BookTok member Nina.

Normal People accompanies Marianne and Connell as they navigate their ever-complicated relationship and grow into adulthood, continuing to weave in-and-out of one another’s life. Beginning in high school, Marianne and Connell see each other in private, as Connell is determined to keep their social scenes separate. Through college, the two mature and see one another both publicly and privately, always struggling to love one another and communicate properly. Rooney demonstrates the hardships and difficulties of real relationships, while also showcasing the simple beauty of love.

Thanks to the power of TikTok, a wonderful digital community of readers and book lovers has emerged in full force. BookTok has provided us with comprehensive recommendations and reviews, allowed writers to share their stories in amazing new ways, and helped lonesome readers find a sense of community. The influence of BookTok, and more importantly books, remains a strong force in our lives.

Kaitlyn Newport

American '24

Kaitlyn is a junior at American University majoring in journalism and political science. She enjoys creative writing, photography, and reading, and she is passionate about mental health and women's rights. Kaitlyn is a section editor and contributing writer for HCAU and currently living in D.C.