This is the year I returned to reading for about the fifth time. Throughout my life, I’ve been defined by my love of books and my ability to lose myself in a story. However, the actual urge to pick up a book and read has come and gone. This used to bother me, but I’ve come to realize that this cycle is completely normal and not worth fighting. Sometimes, I’m reading for pleasure a ton, and sometimes I’m simply not. 2023 was a reading year entirely because of BookTok.
Most people already know BookTok’s power when it comes to driving book recommendations and sales, but there is more than just selling power to be gained. BookTok (along with Bookstagram and BookTube) has developed many active bookish influencers who use their clout to celebrate titles, promote authors, and create a community around quirks and habits of their particular genre. Using the ultra-short social media format, paired with familiar sound bites and aesthetic imagery, is incredibly influential. Case in point? In 2023, this children’s librarian and book writer increased her titles read by 1307 percent. Not a typo. Over one thousand percent increase.
Another consideration: I am firmly entrenched in Romance BookTok, and most of my titles this year fall in the genre. Out of 197 books read, only 10 haven’t been romance, and the majority have come from Kindle Unlimited, which means I could read on my phone, iPad, and Kindle. How can a librarian with varied interests and overflowing shelves do almost all of her pleasure reading in a single genre and format? The algorithm got me, and I went willingly.
Once again, the reason is BookTok. I’m over 35, so most of my TikTok exposure actually comes two weeks later when they’re recycled to Instagram in the form of Reels, but I know that no matter which platform I use to view them, these quick clips have flooded my TBR and helped me choose my next read more times than I can count. Below, I’ve gathered up some examples of the types of BookToks that have gripped me and convinced me to switch apps and download something new within ten seconds of being exposed. This doesn’t cover everything, but spend a little time clicking, and soon your FYP will be inundated with more of the same.
The Simple Quote
A classic for a reason; a simple quote with some music and imagery in the background has gotten me to click on a title more than once. Usually, the creator picks images that define the vibe of the story and a quote that makes a big impact. This particular exchange from Avery Keelan’s Shutout is a personal favorite. Defending her right to wear what she wants while also implying that he’ll fight anyone who gives her trouble? A staple of the genre.
Fancasts refer to the act of finding pictures of people that match the descriptions of your favorite characters. Sometimes, these are celebrities, and sometimes they’re not. Fancasts are especially helpful for people who struggle to create mental images when they’re reading. I love the format of this fancast, with images that not only reflect physical character descriptions but also hobbies and general vibes. The couple being fancast is Kai Young and Isabella Valencia from Ana Huang’s King of Pride.
This format can go a lot of different ways. Highlighting and annotating books is huge in the romance genre, but it happens everywhere. Kindle has settings that allow you to see the most commonly highlighted sections of books while you’re reading, and the stationary world is full of supplies to make notes in your physical copies. I love these types of BookToks that show a quote in the context of the story or share a clip of the audiobook. This tiny exchange from The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams is an example of something that would leave me wanting more. Also, read this book; it is by far my favorite.
The Collection of Recs
Bang for your buck. These are the ones I save and use when I’m completely restocking my Kindle library. A creator will pick a theme and share a slew of recs that fit the bill. To be honest, I’m usually saving collections of spicy recommendations, like this one from Diem of @diemsbookshelf, but I am also a huge fan of Mary Warren’s frequent Fat Girls in Fiction themed romance roundups.
The Collection of Dirty Talk
It speaks for itself. And the words will turn you on. Specific to the romance genre, creators will often make content that just lists different phrases and quotes that the main characters say, typically during spicy scenes. I adored Night Shift by Annie Crown for a lot of reasons, but this dirty talk is what made me look it up. Rumor has it this type of BookTok has led to millions of instant downloads.
The Sweet Fact About Sheer Smut
This type of BookTok resonates with me more after I’ve finished a book, but I’ve done plenty of rereading this year, so it still ups my percentage. This phenomenon happens when books with incredibly spicy scenes also have deep character development. Often in romance, there is steamy spice and a decent plot, or an excellent plot with some spice thrown in, but the Losers duet by Harley Laroux is both at full volume. Chef’s kiss.
Someone Write This
I’ve only ever seen Kristie from Read Between the Wines do this, but I’m new to this world, so it might be more common than I realize. The creator takes a viral clip from the internet and invents a romance backstory, pleading for someone to write it. These are so fun, full stop.
Hopefully, you’ve found some books you want to read, some BookTokers you’d like to follow, or a new type of BookTok to infiltrate your algorithm. No matter what, happy scrolling and happy reading!
Also In This Story Stream
- Does Literary Fiction Also Work on BookTok?
- How To Diversify Your BookTok FYP
- Why is Nonfiction Rare on TikTok?
- The Best Bookstores and Libraries to Follow on TikTok
- The Next Big TikTok Books
- BIPOC BookTokkers to Follow
- I’ve Got 60 Seconds to Hook You: Bookstagram vs BookTok
- 20 of the Best Queer BookTok Accounts To Follow Right Now
- The 12 Most Popular Romantasy Books on TikTok