Aine Cunningham takes us through the 5 books that have had the online reading community on TikTok in a frenzy.
Anyone who loves books and is on TikTok will certainly be familiar with BookTok! This is the place where avid readers share the books they loved, books they hated, books that brought them to tears and books that they wish they could read again for the first time. Once a book goes viral on TikTok, it isn’t long before it is flying off the shelves in bookstores and every reader is clamouring to be the first to give their opinion. Here are 5 books that have had TikTok in a frenzy.
1. Song of Achilles, Madeleine Miller
Who doesn’t love the melodrama and excitement of Greek mythology? Despite being released in 2011, TikTok has been obsessing over this book, which is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad. This book focuses on the romantic relationship between warrior Achilles and Patroclus. It surged in popularity on TikTok due the passionate love between the characters and its strong LGBT themes, which resonated with many of its readers. Definitely one to check out if you’re a Greek mythology fan!
2. They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera
With a title like that, how can somebody not pick up this book? This 2017 book follows two teenage boys, Rufus and Mateo, who learn that they only have one day left to live. This title caused this book to go viral on TikTok, with readers desperate to find out, do they both die at the end? Or is it simply an intriguing title designed to get readers to pick up the book? You’ll have to read it to find out!
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Even if you haven’t read a book in years, you’ve probably heard of this one. TikTok has been captivated with the behind-the-scenes insight into the glamorous, elegant and turbulent life of 1950s movie star Evelyn Hugo in this 2017 book. Glamour aside, this book gained popularity through its LGBT themes and the simple question, how does a person get seven husbands?
4. It Starts With Us, Colleen Hoover
This long awaited 2022 sequel to the 2016 book, It Ends With Us had fans of the original novel desperate to see what was next for characters Ryle, Atlas and Lily following the events of the first book. Due to the large fanbase that the original amassed on TikTok, with even major celebrities posting themselves reading it, it’s no surprise that this highly anticipated sequel went straight to the top of The New York Times bestseller list.
5. Babel, R.F Kuang
There is nothing TikTok loves more than a dark academic book. But this book is so much more than just aesthetics. This recently released 2022 book follows Robin, who is taken to England and taught languages in the hope that he may join Babel academy, a translation institute. It gained popularity on TikTok due to its powerful themes of colonisation and violence, and maybe just a little for the dark academia.
TikTok clearly has a penchant for romance plots. None of the romance plots on the above list, however, are your typical straightforward love stories filled with joy. They are filled with obstacles, turbulence and constant questioning regarding whether the characters will be able to overcome their issues and end up together. Who isn’t a sucker for a tear-jerker if we’re being honest?
The devastation caused by these books has not deterred anyone from reading them. It has been quite the opposite. If anything, this list proves that people are more than happy to subject themselves to emotional suffering if it means a quality read. Admittedly, I have not read the majority of these books, but it’s difficult not to be drawn in by the sheer passion and enthusiasm these TikTok readers display for these books.
When you see someone insisting a book is the greatest you will ever read, it’s only natural to feel a little bit curious. I was inspired to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo after seeing the glowing reviews and recommendations it was getting. It seemed right up my street, filled with glitz, allure and betrayal. I’ve always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes of the picture-perfect Hollywood image, and was excited to read it. This book did not disappoint. From the beginning I was captivated by the life of Evelyn Hugo. I struggled to put the book down as I learned how one marriage after another collapsed and how the next came to be. The mystique of Hollywood disappeared as I read and developed awareness regarding the issues those who appear to have perfect lives can endure. It is not surprising that author Taylor Jenkins Reid has been so acclaimed, with this book spending 54 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. After reading it, I was desperate for more and immediately sought out what else Jenkins Reid had to offer. This experience proved to me that although people may view TikTok as a low-brow place to seek book recommendations, it is worth listening to the reviewers.
If I could recommend a book to be TikTok’s next craze it would be Carrie Soto is Back, written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book follows the life of tennis star Carrie Soto as she attempts to reclaim her spot as women’s top tennis player. Filled with Jenkins Reid’s signature style of drawing you into the behind-the-scenes life of a prolific celebrity, this book is filled with all the tension and emotion I'm sure TikTok would love. The many benefits now of social media is the way in which communities are being formed and grown due to common interests. It's interesting to see these small pockets of book-club-like groups joining together to discuss theories, hopes for next editions and common opinions online. It leaves you to wonder - is this the post pandemic future for group readings and studies, and is it all that bad?