Updated: Sep 24, 2022
Welcome to BookTok, the community on social media platform TikTok that gathers to discuss the latest, potentially greatest, and most infamous novels in the publication scene. Content creators post videos that can range anywhere from recommendations, reviews, ratings, and responses to other critiques in the community. This online book club is a fantastic way to get a quick insight into what’s popular with avid readers. One can get an idea for whether or not they will enjoy a novel from the perspective of a fellow reader who has already done the reading. While BookTokers’ opinions and rankings can widely vary, it’s a convenient and entertaining way to decide whether the next trendy read is “worth it,” as well as more importantly share your love of literature with like-minded readers.
However, BookTok has its serious downsides. Its rise in popularity has reached corporate recognition, with Barnes and Noble creating a section dedicated to #BookTok novels. The BookTok trend also allows for influential but casual consumers to make incorrect commentary from their platforms. While reader reviews are always helpful, biased ratings from amatuer influencers can cloud the reputation of a book that otherwise has critical acclaim. Not only do popular TikTok profiles make book reviews. The trend has also breached YouTube as well, with content creators posting videos, with titles such as “I Read 10 Viral TikTok Books” and “Hyped TikTok Books are... Interesting. Here's what to Read Instead.” They rack up over 100K views, often reaching one million or more. While the consensus is usually unanimous on the quality of most of these popular books, the opinions of these influencers can misconstrue a book’s critical acclaim for the better or worse. A really great book can get a bad rap, or a mediocre or downright terrible novel can receive “the hype.”
Another issue with BookTok is that it can minimize the author’s work on their novel. There is a wide-reaching stigma against “popular” media, whether that pertains to blockbuster movies, Top 40 music, or anything mainstream. While five minutes of fame in the ever-changing BookTok spotlight might momentarily popularize a book, it can also cause readers to not take it seriously. In the same way that many consumers have less respect for genre fiction (such as romance and fantasy/science fiction novels), BookTok selections are currently at risk of becoming subject to that same sentiment.
Overall, BookTok is a fun and harmless way for avid readers to share their literary discoveries online. The trading of recommendations and ratings in an entertaining and easily consumable format is a great way for people to share something that they love. However, it is beginning to reach dangerous territory brought about by consumerism and capitalism. People take advantage of its popularity to score views over controversial rankings and stores commodify the trend to sell more products. The BookTok book club is super fun to participate in, as long as it remains true to its purpose of spreading the love of reading.
Without further ado, my author’s pick from TikTok books that I personally really love is Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. What’s your favorite BookTok novel?
Bookshelf by Trawin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0