BookTok Breakdown: Is it worth the hype?


Dakota Latham

Endless entertainment: Liesel Kuhrau sits scrolling through TikTok looking for reading inspiration. The new and upcoming hashtag “BookTok” has over 39.2 billion views on the app. “BookTok is the most scrumptious hashtag in the entire multiverse,” sophomore Ian Wright said.

BookTok, a group of people on TikTok that discuss books, creates an interesting dynamic on a platform that makes it easy to share ideas. The short videos posted contain reviews, recommendations, points of view, and discussions about favorite authors and characters.

Before BookTok blew up in the last few years, BookTube and Bookstagram were the two big platforms readers used to communicate. Similarities between the older platforms include reviews, recommendations, and community-oriented sharing. However, BookTube features readers sharing books in a much longer video form, whereas Bookstagram is more photo-based and may allow creators to post more often. BookTok might leave viewers more inclined to scroll through endless minute-long videos, but BookTube creators can go in much more depth and include many more books in a single video whereas Bookstagram allows for a more minimalist display of the information.

Both BookTube and Bookstagram have been around much longer than BookTok, but does that change the impact BookTok has left on the world already?

According to PublishersWeekly, “Gains in the young adult category were helped by several titles that benefitted from attention drummed up by BookTok;” the article continues on to give an example of this effect on one of the most popular books reviewed on the platform. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, released in December 2018, was the #1 title in the category, selling nearly 685,000 copies.”

Also from their website, the change in the unit sales of printed books from 2020 to 2021 went up 30.7% in the Young Adult Fiction (YA fiction) category, and there were also increases in other popular BookTok categories.

While not all genres saw this giant increase in sales, BookTok has created a space for authors to share new releases and give readers a place to recommend all different types of books for their wide range of viewers.

It is safe to say that BookTok has made a positive impact on the growth of readers across the board, and will continue to inspire the growth in the trend of reading, which was also seen at Lake Stevens High School. Many students have done their own reading of the trendy BookTok books, finding many that they enjoyed.


Some popular titles include:

Sidenote – each review below has a student explanation or review of the book, and then a star rating from Goodreads. Goodreads has a reputation for brutally honest reviews of books, yet each reader has their own opinion and may think otherwise.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid (4.48/5 stars)
“In a story full of Hollywood glamor, scandals, and queer romance — aging actress Evelyn Hugo reveals everything about her life and her seven marriages in a tell-all interview,” sophomore Natalie McCullough explained.
Genre: Romance/historical fiction
(Content warning: domestic abuse, homophobia, alcoholism, sexual assault)

The Inheritance Games – Jennifer Lynn Barnes (4.24/5 stars)
“The Inheritance Games was a true page-turner that had a really intriguing plot, like I could not put this book down. And oh my goodness, that cliffhanger at the end. It’s a must-read,” sophomore Liesel Kuhrau said.
Genre: fiction/mystery
(Content warning: abusive relationships, death of family members)

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera (3.92/5 stars)
“Very emotional, captivating story… no matter how attached the reader gets to the likable and complex characters, the way the story has to end is inevitable,” an anonymous student said.
Genre: YA fiction/adventure fiction/LGBT literature
(Content warning: death, grief, depression, violence)

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue – V.E. Schwab (4.24/5 stars)
“This book was extremely good, from the beautiful writing to the clever artwork, you won’t want to put it down!!” sophomore Chloe Swartz said.
Genre: fantasy fiction/historical fiction
(Content warning: abusive relationship, alcohol abuse, assault, depression)

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig (4.06/5 stars)
“In this short yet poignant novel, a woman named Nora struggling with her mental health learns to let go of regret with the help of a magical library and the multiverse,” McCullough explained.
Genre: fantasy fiction/fantasy fiction/philosophical fiction
(Content warning: suicide, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism)

Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys (4.35/5 stars)
“A true story about a sunken ship often forgotten, and four bold characters trying to escape a few months before the end of WWII,” sophomore Katie Cook explained.
Genre: historical fiction/YA fiction
(Content warning: violence, sexual assault)

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard (4.04/5 stars)
A classic dystopian novel where there are two sides of an unofficial war based on the abilities you have or don’t have, but that line gets blurred when a girl finds out she has a place on both sides,” an anonymous student said.
Genre: fantasy fiction/YA fiction
Content warning: mild violence, murder, betrayal)

Scythe – Neal Shusterman (4.33/5 stars)
“Scythe is a tres bueno book that explores a cool, near-future dystopia where death has been eradicated and overpopulation is solved by Scythes who go around murdering people for fun times. 11/10 recommended for people who want to have moral dilemmas for 432 pages,” junior Owen Johnson said.
Genre: biopunk/science fiction/fantasy fiction/adventure fiction
(Content warning: violent, death)

Renegades – Marissa Meyer (4.15/5 stars)
“A superhero story featuring anarchists and rebels and rival drama that includes fast-paced action scenes,” Cook explains.
Genre: science fiction/fantasy fiction
(Content warning: murder, death, violence)

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart (3.76/5 stars)
“A heartbreaking story that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, the ending will make you want to read it all over again to rediscover clues that were left along the way to the big finale,” an anonymous student said.
Genre: YA fiction/psychological thriller
(Contact warning: arson, death, grief, PTSD)


Honorable Mentions:

  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (4.41/5 stars)
    Genre: romance novel/historical fiction
  • It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover (4.44/5 stars)
    Genre: romance novel
  • One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus (4.02/5 stars)
    Genre: Mystery/YA fiction
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson (4.37/5 stars)
    Genre: Thriller/mystery/suspense/YA fiction
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston (4.20/5 stars)
    Genre: romance novel/fiction/LGBT literature
  • People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry (4.03/5 stars)
    Genre: chick-lit/romance novel/fiction/humor
  • Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins (3.99/5 stars)
    Genre: romance novel/YA fiction
  • Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow (4.14/5 stars)
    Genre: fiction novel
  • All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven (4.15/5 stars)
    Genre: fiction novel
  • The Cruel Prince – Holly Black (4.10/5 stars)
    Genre: fantasy


Bonus Book:

Cain’s Jawbone – Edward Powys Mathers (4.11/5 stars)
Released in 1934, Cain’s Jawbone is again coming back to the spotlight. Over the span of just one hundred pages, this book contains six murders. Except, the book doesn’t say who dies, or who committed each murder. And, all the pages are printed in the wrong order. That’s the reader’s job, to reorganize the book, and figure out the puzzle. TikTokers have this book plastered all over their walls, working towards the end through the millions of possibilities. To this day, only four people have successfully solved the book, winning the cash prize. Can you?


5 Popular BookTok accounts to check out:
@thisstoryantover → She focuses on recommending and reviewing books, she also uses both BookTok, BookTube, and Goodreads.
@abbysbooks → Recommends fantasy/dystopian type books, also has a range of funny content and reviews of books she reads.
@johneepixels7 → According to his bio “Disney enthusiast bookwork (queer, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, YA)”.
@kellyygillann → Her account ranges from a wide variety of books, but mostly is focused on young adult fiction reads.
@lifebyesther → Focuses on recommending classic books for both beginners and experienced classic readers.


If any of these books interest you, they are available for check out at the LSHS library, Sno-Isle libraries, or as Ebooks from Sora (which can be found on student’s Clever) and Libby (which can be found on the app store). Please also remember Sno-Isle libraries partnered with LSHS this year. Students now have direct access to public library resources with just their student number. Happy reading!