Proceed with caution: The contents of this article may include spoilers for some of these books!
Dear reader, if you’re anything like me, you’re on #BookTok, have an overwhelming GoodReads Want To Read shelf, or have a deep appreciation for how a good book allows you to escape this mundane world. With TikTok’s massive reach since the start of the pandemic, it’s no surprise how large and popular the #BookTok community has become, so much so that publishers and Barnes & Noble actively contribute to the category as well. The BookTok hashtag now has a reach of 127.7B views, with book reviews being the best-performing videos at this time. BookTok typically prefers certain genres and centers on Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller, and romance novels.
However, with such a large volume of books being pushed your way on the FYP, which ones truly add value to your TBR? I have read a fair share of these “popular” BookTok books, so let’s break it down and dive right in on which are flops and which are total bops.
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Let’s kick it off with a classic, shall we? The announcement of this movie adaptation has revived the dystopian fandom to life as many welcome the prequel to The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the telling of President Snow’s adolescence as he takes on the challenge of mentoring in the Games for the chance to advance his status. From Snow’s perspective, we get to account Panem from his point of view before the residents of the Capitol came to love the Hunger Games and how he became the loathsome character we’ve come to know. This book is sure to have you yearning to reread the trilogy, so stay tuned for the film adaptation set to premiere on Nov. 17, 2023.
- The Silent Patient
This next one brought me out of my college reading slump, and I haven’t stayed away from a book for long since. The Silent Patient is one that I’d actually deem a page-turner that is bound to knock your socks off with its thrilling ending. Alice Berenson seems to have the ideal life, an in-demand painter married to an equally in-demand photographer. However, one night she decides to shoot her husband, Gabriel, five times and, from then on, is selectively mute. The incident becomes a mysterious public spectacle as they wonder what went wrong while she is kept away in a forensic sanitarium. Years later, Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, jumps at the opportunity to work with her, unravel the truth about her violent action, and is determined to get her to speak. Not for the faint of heart, Theo becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind the domestic shooting and find out he will. Will it be what you’re expecting?
- The Things We Leave Unfinished BY REbecca Yarros
Yes, I’m aware we just started Q2, but this is my top read of 2023, and I’m not changing my mind. The Things We Leave Unfinished is one of the top reads reviewed on TikTok and is historical fiction alternating across two time periods, present-day in the U.S.A. and during WWII in Europe. Georgia Stanton, described as the Ice Queen, leaves behind everything after her brutal divorce and returns to her late grandmother’s estate. This is where best-selling author, Noah Harrison, comes in as he’s chosen to create the fitting ending for his favorite author, Scarlet Stanton’s last work. Her grandmother, Scarlet Stanton, is a prolific romance writer who had her tragic love story while working with an American fighter pilot during WWII and was incapable of completing the novel based on her unfinished lost love. With its alternating timelines, The Things We Leave Unfinished is a jaw-dropper but effortlessly illustrates a quest for survival, how deep scars can be, and what one is capable of for love.
- Conversations with friends By SAlly Rooney
You might as well flip a coin: some people love Sally Rooney’s work, and for some, she’s just not their cup of tea. Conversations with Friends is not necessarily action-packed, but, as usual, Rooney manages to draw you into the dynamic of these four characters. Frances, our primary character, and her best friend, Bobbi, encounter Melissa and Nick, a married couple, and the story revolves around their dynamics as a group and as pairs. Rooney’s writing style is evocative and clean, providing just enough detail to keep you entranced by the characters, their strange connection, and Frances’ inability to be vulnerable. Rather than focusing on the cheating, Rooney focuses on their individual transformations and highlights how in order to be loved, we have to be okay with being known.
- Archer’s voice
Archer’s Voice, you disappointed me! I’d seen this one too many times on BookTok and decided it couldn’t be that bad and went for it. Archer’s Voice is the story of Archer, a selective mute, who has isolated himself due to the horrific memory of his past, and Bree Prescott, who arrives in town attempting to find a new sense of peace. Bree is determined to help Archer find his voice, and they heal their scars together. You may enjoy it, but for me, the plot felt extremely juvenile and rushed. If I could go back in time, I’d go back and DNF this one.
- ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Alice Feeney
Rock Paper Scissors, I love you, and you made me scared of marriage (jokes, kind of). Rock Paper Scissors is the definition of “Do you really know the people who hold close to your heart?” (yes, this includes your significant other). Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s marriage has been failing for quite some time, and when they take a weekend away to Scotland, it may be what they’ve needed all along. Adam Wright is a screenwriter with face blindness who has pulled himself headfirst into his work. Every year, they exchange traditional gifts, and Mrs. Wright writes him a letter she never shares. They didn’t win this trip by chance, and at least one of them is lying. Which one is lying, and when things start to go awry, who wants to spoil their happily ever after?
- The Invisible Life Of Addie Larue By V.E. Schwab
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is a #BookTok cult favorite and for good reason. In a helpless moment, Addie “prays to the gods after dark” and makes a Faustian bargain to live forever for the chance to live her life as she pleases for herself and no one else. As expected, there’s a caveat to this, and she’s forced to walk the Earth being forgotten by everyone she meets. Her story stretches across three centuries as she explores the world and goes to extreme lengths to leave her mark on this world. V.E. Schwab is a legendary author (even though she often denies it) and remarkably describes the human experience and the want to be seen.
There are definitely more cult favorites and disappointments on BookTok, but I’ll stop here. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a part two to this. I hope this compels you to add one or two new books to your TBR and inspires you to give BookTok a genuine shot!