The Deep Dive

Books Popular on BookTok for the Summer — And a Few That Should Be

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

Since at least early May, BookTokkers have been doing roundups of their summer reading lists. The books on the list sound fun and tend towards the romantic, with a little mystery/thriller sprinkled in — but they’re also mostly by white authors.

This isn’t a new problem for BookTok — or the publishing industry at large — but it is really annoying. Especially considering that a lot of people complain about how it feels like the same few books keep getting recommended on BookTok. What’s more, people have been getting turned off from BookTok recommendations because some of these books…aren’t to their taste.

I’ve, of course, dabbled in a little BookTokkery myself, and I see where they’re coming from. While keeping in mind that book taste is subjective, I still wonder how some of these books have such large followings, just based on things like originality of story, and, let’s be real, writing quality. Still, they are popular, and I don’t take issue with this fact because I see them as encouraging more people to read, and I count the boom in the interest of reading brought about by TikTok as a net positive.

But there still is the issue with diversity.

BookTok, for all its positives, does seem to be reinforcing instead of fighting against the lack of diversity in publishing. One might argue that diversity is lacking because people simply don’t want to read books by nonwhite and queer authors; that’s not really true though. The full story of the lack of diversity in publishing involves marketing and a look at how publishers tend to spend less of their marketing budget on books by nonwhite and queer authors.

I remember how, before I started working within the book industry and was still just a reader, there were so many more books I wouldn’t finish. Looking back, I realize a lot of this had to do with marketing, and how only a few books (in the grand scheme of things) were constantly being promoted to me that just weren’t the right fit. I feel like I’ve experienced a similar thing with some of the most popular book recommendations I’ve seen on BookTok, and I think adding more books to the BookTok ecosystem would help solve the issue. And not even just books by diverse authors. I think BookTok could do with a little jolt of newness, and after I’ve brought you up to speed on the books being recommended for summer reading on BookTok, I’ll put you on to a few books that I think would become popular on the app.

This is just a sampling of books, to keep you in the know, as well as to give you more options. If you follow our weekly bestselling books list, you may see some familiar titles, which makes sense because of how much BookTok has influenced the book publishing industry since the onset of the pandemic.

Books Popular on BookTok This Summer

cover of Funny Story by Emily Henry

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Ms. Henry rules the summer, and here, she’s turned her talents to a chaotic/organized romantic pairing. Daphne thought she had it going on, until her fiancé Peter realized he’d rather be with his childhood bestie, Petra. Now, the children’s librarian, away from everyone she knows and in need of a roommate, decides to live with someone in a similar situation: Petra’s ex, Miles. The two mostly avoid each other, until they come together one day to realize how fun it would be to pretend to date and share pictures of themselves doing so online. But it’s all for show, of course…

cover image for How To End A Love Story

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

Interestingly, Yulin Kuang wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation and directed the upcoming Beach Read adaptation. And here, she gets a little meta with the story of Helen Zhang, a bestselling author who’s earned the position of writer for an adaptation of a popular YA novel. Everything is going well until she finds out Grant is a screenwriter on the show as well. Now, the two will have to confront the horrible accident that connected them 13 years ago, even as they’re reminded of why they liked each other in the first place.

Just For the Summer Cover

Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

This April release is all up and down BookTok. It’s a romance that starts with Reddit, of all things. Justin reveals in a Reddit thread that he’s cursed, and how every woman he goes on a date with finds her perfect match right after she breaks up with him. And Emma, feeling like she has nothing to lose, especially since her next assignment as a traveling nurse will place her in Minnesota, thinks that dating Justin might prove to be fruitful. But then Emma’s raggedy mother turns up, and Justin has to take care of his siblings, and suddenly, the idea that the two of them may be perfect together starts to form.

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