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Are These Popular “Booktok” Books Worth the Read?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you’re on the same side of TikTok as I am, you’ve probably heard the term “BookTok” before. The term is self explanatory: the side of TikTok where people talk about books. 

“BookTok” has proven to be a powerful tool for authors who want to promote their work. Even platforms such as The New York Times and The Guardian have written stories on the impact “BookTok” has had on the publishing industry. On top of that, it is almost guaranteed you will find a TikTok themed table at any bookstore you walk into. 

I have discovered amazing books on TikTok and I have added many more to my reading list. However, not everything that is popular is good, and it is no different with books. 

For this reason, I decided to write about some popular “BookTok” books I’ve read, my opinions on them and whether I think they are worth the read. 

  1. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I can’t stress this enough: YES! This is one of my favorite books, if not my favorite, and I couldn’t be happier when I saw it was trending. 

This novel tells the story of 1960s Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo, and how she became one of the most praised actresses of her generation. As with any good novel, however, you can expect quite a few twists as we learn every secret Evelyn has kept with her for years. You will finish the book wishing Evelyn was a real person; it is the kind of book that stays in your mind long after you’ve finished it.

2. “Verity” by Colleen Hoover

Yes! I have to admit that Colleen Hoover is not my favorite author. I read a few of her books before “Verity” and they weren’t anything special, so I was skeptical about giving this one a try. 

I could not have been more wrong. 

This romance mystery had me hooked since the first sentence and I read the whole thing in one night. There were so many plot twists that I had to put down the book a few times just to catch my breath. 

“Verity” follows writer Lowen Ashleigh as she accepts the offer to finish writing a best-selling series by Verity Crawford. Verity is unable to finish the series due to an injury and must rely on someone else to finish the series. As Lowen moves into Verity’s house and starts to learn more about the author and her family, the book takes one unexpected turn after another. I promise you won’t be able to put it down. 

3. “The Grisha Trilogy” by Leigh Bardugo

A big fat maybe. The trilogy itself is not that great, in my opinion. The main character Alina is not interesting enough to keep my attention throughout the three books.

The trilogy follows orphaned Alina Starkov, as she learns she is a powerful Grisha with unique powers. She is challenged to learn how to conquer her power at the same time as she learns how to navigate the politics of the Ravkan kingdom. 

It is a “chosen one” story that has been written many times before, and there’s nothing really special about the overdone trope. However, if you plan on reading “Six of Crows,” the world-building in the Grisha trilogy makes the duology easier to follow. 

4. “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Yes, yes, yes and yes. While the Grisha trilogy isn’t my favorite, the “Six of Crows” duology is absolutely incredible. The characters are amazing and so is the plot. Though it is easier to understand if you’ve read the Grisha trilogy, I read “Six of Crows” first and I had no problem understanding it. 

The duology follows a group of criminal teenagers as they pull an impossible heist. The writing will hook you and you won’t be able to put down the book. 

5. “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

Yes, but proceed with caution. The book is beautiful, but the writing and the slow pace are not for everyone. Though I did enjoy it, it did not meet my expectations overall, as everyone says it is one of the best books they’ve ever read. 

It is good, yes, but not much beyond that. The retelling of Achilles and Patroclus can be quite slow and the writing makes it confusing at times. With that being said, the last 100 pages have a great pace and will make you think it was worth giving the book a try. 

6. “Beach Read” by Emily Henry 

Yes! This book contains some of my favorite literary tropes: slow burn, rivals to lovers and more. It’s a beautiful book about grief with an exciting romance. Though some of the nooks can be quite a cliché, it is still enjoyable and you will find yourself rooting for the couple. It’s not the book I would usually gravitate toward, so I was surprised when I wound up loving it. 

Emily Henry’s books are quite popular on “Booktok” and “Beach Read” is the only one I’ve read so far, but I highly recommend it. It’s a light read ideal for those looking for a cute romance novel with a bit more substance than usual, as grief is a bit part of the book.

7. “The Deal” by Elle Kennedy

No. Unlike the cliché trope of “Beach Read,” the first book of the “Off Campus” series is badly written and borderline problematic. The plot is nothing new, the characters are boring and it doesn’t spark any strong emotions. The lack of representation is another big turn-off for me. However, short chapters and simplistic writing keeps the reader focused, so I’d only recommend this book if you’re looking to get out of a reading slump. 

8. “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston 

Yes! I’m biased because this is one of my favorite books, but in my opinion, this love story between an American son and the prince of England absolutely lives up to the expectations. I love everything about this book, from this fictional America with a Texan female president to its captivating supporting characters. Even the millennial references to Harry Potter and Taylor Swift, which I usually hate in a book, made me love “Red, White and Royal Blue.”

On top of a great plot, Casey’s writing is captivating and easy to follow. Though the book aims to be a romantic comedy, it can get deep. I still cry every time I reread it. I reread it four times in 2020 to be exact! Do with that information what you will.

9. “From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Yes! I’m not a big fantasy fan and I think the “chosen one” trope has been overdone to the point where I find it hard to enjoy it anymore. With that being said, I read “From Blood and Ash” in a day and a half. I could not put it down. The book keeps your attention and the slow burn relationship between the main couple is so well written you can’t help but root for them. The author has since released three sequels with more to come. I haven’t read the sequels yet, but I’ve heard they’re just as good as the first book. 

10. “They Both Die at The End” by Adam Silvera

Yes! It took me a while to get to this book, and for the first few chapters, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. However, I’m glad I stuck with it. This book is about the journey rather than the ending. This isn’t hard to uncover because of the title. However, that doesn’t mean it gets boring or that you won’t sob your eyes out when you reach the end. It is a beautiful story that stays with you after you finish it. The writing was not my favorite at first, but as the book progressed I learned to enjoy it.

With everything above being said, remember that I might love a book you hate and vice versa. I believe it is always best to read and form your own opinions and “BookTok” is a great platform to discover your next read, whether it is a book listed here or not.

Rafaela (she/her) is a sophomore at Penn State, majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Journalism and Sports Studies. She's obsessed with Taylor Swift, books, chocolate, and romantic comedy movies.
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