TikTok serves up an endless loop of short videos that can be anything from dancing skits to tutorials and tips, making it one of the most popular apps of 2020 and 2021. With a large number of users come clusters of individuals with similar interests. In this case, #BookTok—a hashtag with a niche but loyal and ever-growing following. Book lovers on TikTok use it to share all sorts of videos related to books, from recommendations to snappy and relatable takes on the reading experience (such as “Things that bookworms do”).
#BookTok videos that go viral have contributed to a surge in book sales and more fan-made content that increases the visibility of certain books. Readers also keep close tabs on certain authors and titles through this hashtag as well as #bookclub, #bookish, #bookworm, and #bookrecs. Through TikTok, we’ve found some of our favourite reads that pull on those heartstrings, bring forth the tears, and have us mulling over the meaning of life.
We present to you the best #BookTok recommendations for your reading pleasure:
1. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
For those who like: Romance woven with heartbreak and tears
What’s it about: Lily has always worked hard for the life she wants, graduating college and starting a business in Boston, a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up. Nothing has ever been easy for her, except the instant spark she has with the gorgeous and brilliant neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. He’s assertive, stubborn, and even a little arrogant—but with Lily, he’s sensitive and kind. She’s also the only exception to his “no dating” rule. As questions about her new relationship pile up, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan, her first love who was a kindred spirit and protector. Atlas’ sudden reappearance forces Lily to confront the past she left behind and threatens everything she’s built with Ryle.
Why you should read it: Colleen Hoover’s books go above and beyond when it comes to packing an emotional punch. With a huge fan base on TikTok, she’s won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). This self-made writer is known for her soulful writing, romances that have unconventional endings, and honesty in tackling subjects and feelings we might be too scared to face. Two of her other books that have gained popular recognition are Ugly Love and Verity.
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
For those who like: Historical fiction laced with romance and scandals
What’s it about: Monique Grant is an unknown magazine reporter whose professional life is going nowhere. To rub salt into the wound, her husband has left her. So, no one is more astounded than Monique when she’s handpicked to write the biography of Evelyn Hugo, a reclusive Hollywood movie icon who has lead a glamorous and scandalous life. Nevertheless, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for Monique to jumpstart her career. As she listens to the story of how Evelyn arrived in Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to retire from show business in the ‘80s—and the seven husbands accumulated along the way—Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star. But as Evelyn’s tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Why you should read it: Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has more to it than old Hollywood glamour—it inspires us to weather heartbreaks with grace and to make the best of life. Reid has a way with words and excels at writing engaging dialogues, which is also apparent in Daisy Jones and The Six and Malibu Rising. Her books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list and Reese Witherspoon is a fan.
3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
For those who like: Hard-hitting stories that unpack current social and relationship issues
What’s it about: We don’t have to be related by blood to consider someone as part of our family. This is what four classmates from a small Massachusetts college discover throughout the years. When they first move to New York in search of a better future, they’re broke and adrift, fuelled only by friendship and ambition. Willem, an aspiring actor, is kind and handsome; JB, a Brooklyn-born painter, is quick-witted and sometimes cruel; Malcolm, an architect at a prominent firm, is frustrated; and the enigmatic Jude, who keeps them together, is withdrawn and brilliant. While their relationships deepen and darken over time, it’s the increasingly broken Jude, haunted by a childhood trauma he struggles to overcome, who will turn out to be their greatest challenge.
Why you should read it: Shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction, A Little Life is a heart-wrenching and masterfully executed story of love tinged by violence. It’s also thought-provoking to read about queer life and issues through the lens of a presumed-heterosexual author—for better or worse, it raises important questions we should engage in regarding authenticity and representation. Nevertheless, this book will change your perspective of life and serves as a reminder to be more empathetic.
4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
For those who like: Heartwarming and life-affirming speculative fiction
What’s it about: We all have regrets in life and more than one “what if” moment, where we wonder what may have changed had we made a different decision. After hitting rock bottom and attempting suicide, Nora Seed wakes up in a strange library where she’s presented with the possibility of changing her life for a new one. She gets to explore a different career, undo old breakups, and realise her dreams of becoming a glaciologist in the search of a truly fulfilling life. As she travels through one alternate universe after another, Nora searches within herself for the answers to what makes life worth living in the first place.
Why you should read it: While this book starts out with a dark undertone of despair, Matt Haig has a gift for making everyday life seem extraordinary. With compassion and a quirky sense of humour, he invites us to look both within and outside ourselves to find greater meaning in life. The Midnight Library is a winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction and a nominee of the 2021 British Book Awards for Fiction Book of the Year.
5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
For those who like: The mystery and suspense of psychological thrillers
What’s it about: Alicia Berenson is a famous painter married to a successful fashion photographer. They live at one of London’s most prestigious addresses, in a grand house with big windows overlooking a pretty park. So why would Alicia shoot her husband, Gabriel, five times in the face on an evening when he returns home late from a fashion shoot? The truth is impossible to come by as Alicia stops talking altogether after this bizarre act of violence. Her silence captures the public’s imagination and casts Alicia into the ranks of notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets while she, the silent patient, is hidden away at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. When criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber has a long-awaited opportunity to work on Alicia’s case, his determination to seek out the truth takes him down a twisting path into his own questionable motivations.
Why you should read it: The Silent Patient, despite being Alex Michaelides’ debut novel, entered the New York Times’ bestseller list for Hardcover Fiction at number one in its first week. This is a testament to the page-turning mystery at the heart of the story and Michaelides’ tight pacing right up to the very last word. This book’s ending also ensures Alicia, Theo and Gabriel will stay on your mind long after you’ve moved it to your “completed” list.
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