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There aren’t many people who have not used or know about TikTok, the app known for serving up short videos on everything from dance moves to fashion tips, cooking tutorials, and funny sketches, creating almost every bizarre trend imaginable. TikTok has now introduced another trend but this time with an educational twist; BookTok. Novels – old and new – have been going viral thanks to a new wave of book-loving influencers discussing their young adult literary picks.
TikTok doesn’t seem like an obvious destination for book buzz but that hasn’t stopped it from booming. The #BookTok hashtag has racked up over 5.8 billion views, and some authors have seen a tenfold increase in book sales for works that are often decades old.
Even bookstores are jumping on the trend. The Barnes & Noble website now has a “BookTok” page dedicated to the most popular books on TikTok and its American stores have introduced allocated sections displaying titles that have gone viral on the platform. BookTok is the fastest book club you will ever visit. In under a minute, users film books they recommend, record time-lapses of themselves reading or show their reactions to the final nail-biting or tear-jerking moment of a novel.
If you scroll through #BookTok, you will see in-depth spoiler-filled reviews, colour-coordinated bookcases, and even a user acting out a literary battle scene, complete with a sorceress dress, horse and bow, and arrow.
Books with teenage, star-crossed lovers are popular too with users obsessing over what fictional characters make the best boyfriends or fantasising about their dream date with Romeo.
Publishers have started joining the platform to promote books, and some have started sending early copies, free books, or payment to popular influencers in exchange for endorsing their titles.
One 18-year-old BookTok influencer, Selene Velez, admitted to the New York Times that she was receiving fees, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, to push certain novels to her 139,000 followers. Others have said how the trend has been a relaxing pastime during the pandemic. One user tweeted: “BookTok saved me from going insane during lockdown”.
At the time of writing this article, the most popular books on BookTok are in order of popularity;
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Loosely inspired by Dutch Republic-era Amsterdam, this novel takes place in a dangerous universe called the Grishaverse, where monsters, robbers, and smugglers jostle for power. Six outcasts have to pull off a heist to survive.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: After an accident on a private island caused Cadence to lose her memory, the 17-year-old must piece together what happened by talking to her deceitful cousins.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: After killing a wolf in the woods, Feyre Archeron, a 19-year-old huntress, is taken hostage by a beast-like creature who teaches her about the world.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Miller retells Homer’s Iliad from the perspective of Achilles’ doting lover, Patroclus.
As one of the best places to discover new books by young female authors, BookTok looks set to only increase in popularity – especially now that the writers themselves are joining the community to discuss their creative process. Among them is author of The Last Goodbye, Fiona Lucas, fantasy writer and author of Stolen Sun, Eli Hinze, and romance novelist and author of All I’ve Never Wanted, Ana Huang, all of whom use the platform to share writing tips, answer narrative questions and even discuss practical steps to entering the literary world as a professional author.