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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 SBU chapter.

As a bookish person, I am heavily involved in keeping tabs on the discourse surrounding BookTok currently.

If you are unfamiliar, the term “BookTok” refers to a sort of subculture on TikTok where readers worldwide share their opinions and recommendations on the books they like and don’t like. It’s reached such a height of popularity that many Barns & Noble’s have sections dedicated to the so-called “genre”.

At face value, it sounds like a wonderful side of the internet to be on. It’s like a giant bookclub and a great gateway for recruiting new readers as well. However, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with this side of TikTok.

I have been a pretty consistent reader for much of my life, and I was defiantly a big reader before the “rise of BookTok,” so when I was first introduced to it I was excited to see what other people had to say about some of my favorite books and read up on what other people give glowing reviews to. My expectations were quickly subverted, though.

I had read, and DNFed, multiple BookTok books that no where near lived up to the endless supply of good reviews they had received online. You would assume that if a book is receiving endless support online and being lauded as “one of the best books you’ll read this year” that it would be good, right? Wrong! I was left disappointed and unsatisfied so many times that I just stopped listening to BookTok’s advice altogether.

However, just because I stopped reading what BookTok shoved down my throat, doesn’t mean I stopped paying attention to the controversies that seemed to constantly arise within it.

There has been discourse surrounding the controversial authors that BookTok seems to consistently uplift, as well as certain books gaining a following of uneducated readers that don’t seem to grasp the gravity of certain themes such as domestic abuse or mental health. Sometimes it even seems that some authors don’t fully grasp the serious topics they write into their stories.


Currently, there has been some controversy over the whole “spice level” craze that the romance and fantasy genres seem to inspire in readers.

“Spice” basically refers to the amount of sex or smut that a book has, so if a book is “really spicy” you can count on it being a pretty raunchy story.

Maybe it’s because I was never much into the romance genre, but the whole concept of people’s top priority before reading a book was knowing its “spice level” always irked me a bit. In a romance book, fine, that’s literally part of the genre. Fantasy books, yeah it’s okay. As long as it doesn’t become a romance book with a fantasy subplot, go for it. However, I draw the line at people asking for the spice level of books like A Little Life and My Dark Vanessa, two books that deal with a plethora of heavy topics. You should probably be asking for trigger warnings instead in that case.

I’m not shaming anybody’s book taste. If you like reading something, keep reading it! You should be proud that you’re reading something at all in this day and age!

All I’m trying to point out is that some parts of BookTok have a serious “read the room” problem.

Just do the slightest bit of research on a book before you comment, “spice?” lest you make a fool of yourself and the rest of the bookworm community, please.


A popular thing that people do with their books is have a celebrity “head cannon” for a character. Essentially, when thinking of a character, they imagine them to look like a certain celebrity. This is totally normal, especially with books that don’t have movie adaptations. It just makes visualizing characters easier.

As usual, though, BookTok took it too far.

The specific case of Alex Wennberg of the Seattle Kraken hockey team is the prime example of this.

Last year, with the popularity of sports romances, specifically hockey romances, BookTokkers looked to the sports world to find their “fan casts” and Wennberg became a popular target.

The following reached such heights that the Kraken’s social media itself played up Wennberg’s popularity with his bookish fans. The real controversy started when BookTokker Kierra Lewis, who was instrumental in pushing the Alex Wennberg obsession, was invited to one of the Kracken’s games.

Lewis’s comment’s regarding Wennberg in her TikTok’s were already a breaching inappropriate levels as she was constantly sexualizing and objectifying him. When she was invited to watch him play live, the over sexualization and outright harassment continued, but this time in person. This whole time Wennberg was not treated as a real person, but rather a fictional person in these BookToker’s minds.

Essentially, BookTok has seemingly made some people blur the lines of expressing attraction and outright harassment. It went to such an extreme extent that someone felt it was okay to cat-call someone in public, and in their place of work no less. Sometimes it’s okay to keep your thoughts to yourself; have some decorum!


When I was growing up I was entrenched in the dystopian craze, wondering if the author was going to have the guts to kill off my favorite character and if the main girl will see the world and pick the right guy.

So, tell me why kids are reading Icebreaker? Icebreaker. Like I said earlier, people really need to start reading the synopsis’s of books before they purchase them, especially for their young kids.

Just because a book has a cartoon cover does NOT automatically mean it is for kids. Didn’t anyone ever hear the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover?”

Let kids be kids and read Jerry Spinelli and Judy Blume. Leave the adult novels where they belong; in the hands of an adult.


TikTok is centered around fast-paced scrolling and short videos. The attention span of users are short, so videos are short, and vague. The ones that do attempt to go in depth on reviewing and critiquing books are left behind to favor the short sweet videos just telling you to read a certain stack of books based on their “aesthetic.”

I have always found “BookTube,” which I’m sure you can imagine is just the same premise of BookTok but on Youtube, a whole lot more inviting and educational. Some of my favorite creators like Jack Edwards and Carly Thorn always give great recommendations and reviews that tell me just enough about the book, good and bad, to make me want to give it a read and formulate my own opinions.

So many BookTokkers seem to just want to read the most popular books and get in on the, “OMG THIS BOOK IS SO SO GOOD!” train. BookTube actually has good analyzations and gives enough information to let readers be more informed going into the book, but also encourages them to find their own insights on the book to actually add some constructive comments to the conversations surrounding it.

Jessica Wikander is a new member of the Her Campus chapter at St. Bonaventure University this year, and is excited to write on topics such as movies, books, music, and so much more. She is also looking to get more involved in the world of writing and journalism as well as marketing while at school. Jessica is a freshman at St. Bonaventure University and is an undeclared communications major. Along with Her Campus, she has joined other on campus media outlets such as The Buzz, the campus radio station, and SBU-TV, the campus TV station. She also hopes to be a part of the Campus Conservationists Club, and the Jandoli School Women in Communications group. Back home, Jessica worked at her local public library for two and half years where she grew to love being surrounded by people who shared the same love of books and writing as her. On her own time, Jessica enjoys reading. She is a lover of classic literature, fantasy, and literary fiction. She also loves to crochet and is trying to learn how to knit. A comfort show of hers is New Girl, and is an avid period drama watcher and enthusiast. She is open to any discussions on her favorite pieces of media and is always looking for new recommendations of things to watch or read.