From Sweet to Spicy, Here are the Most Popular Romantic Reads on TikTok
The bookish community on TikTok, or “BookTok“, has hundreds of thousands of videos and creators sharing their love for the written word. Within this community, sub-communities have emerged. There’s AuthorTok, YATok — the list goes on. It stands to reason, then, with the romance reading community being such a large part of publishing, there’s a subset for romance readers too. The most popular romance books on TikTok prove that out.
TikToks have immense power over the sales of books, as exemplified by the spike in sales for novels like Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End or Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. When a video goes viral, something wholly unexpected and unplannable, people pay attention. They listen. They buy. So much so that Barnes & Nobles across the country have entire displays dedicated to books popular on the app.
And the romance community is no different. I was curious, then, to see what romance books, tropes, and authors are popular on BookTok right now. I set out to find out.
In order to deep dive, I scrolled through around 100 videos tagged #RomanceBooks, #RomanceTok, and the general #BookTok or #BookRecs and #BookRecommendations videos to get a better picture of what people were talking about. I tallied books that were mentioned across the 100 videos for comparison’s sake.
I wound up with a list of 50+ books of the most popular romantic reads on TikTok, which I have narrowed down to the top 20 or so. I’ve divided them up by the trope or genre they were recommended under so you can pick through to find what you might be interested in. Make sense? Great, let’s get into it.
The first trend that became apparent quite quickly is the way romance BookTok latches on to specific authors. Multiple “favorite romance books” videos listed authors in the rankings rather than a specific novel. Here are a few of the ones who appeared most often.
Colleen Hoover was by far the most popular author talked about on romance TikTok. Her first novel to go viral last year, Verity, started this obsession with her, and it has only grown from there.
In the one hundred videos I watched, It Ends with Us was mentioned 20 times. It was by and large the most popular book in the community. Viewers raved about how “heartbreaking” and “heavy” and “important” this story is, with many mentions to check the trigger warnings before diving in.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Newly graduated and starting her own business, Lily meets a young neurosurgeon resident, Ryle. Their attraction is instant, but differences in what they want out of the relationship send them different directions. That is, until six months later when they run into each other again. Their attraction grows and they veer closer and closer to relationship territory. It’s perfect…until it isn’t, and Lily’s ex comes into the picture to only complicate things further. Definitely listen to the TikTokers and check the trigger warnings before picking up this one.
Two other frequent recommendations for Hoover included November 9, mentioned, fittingly, nine times; and Ugly Love, recommended eight times. With both of these, much like It Ends with Us, TikTokers almost always advised viewers to check trigger warnings before picking these up.
Emily Henry was the second-most talked about author in my time on romance TikTok. Readers talked extensively about her writing style, the “spicy” nature of her novels, and the “enemies to lovers” or “childhood friends” tropes she uses in her two recent releases.
People We Meet on Vacation was the second-most mentioned book, with 15 videos making mention of it or its characters. “Slow burn” and “second chance romance” were frequent phrases used to describe this summer-vacation-romp.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Poppy and Alex used to be friends. They used to take off on wild adventures over the summer. Every summer. That is, until their falling out. Now, two years later, Poppy wants one more try. One more vacation to try to smooth things over. One more shot at, maybe, something more. Expecting nothing, she invites him along on a week-long trip and, surprisingly, he agrees. This summery, slow burn is sure to put a smile on your face.
Henry’s other novel, Beach Read, was also a frequent recommendation, with seven mentions many of which focused on the “enemies to lovers” trope between the two rival authors the novel focuses on.
All three of Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters Series novels were mentioned by at least five or six videos each. Her novels are described as “witty” and “sexy” in equal measure, with readers gushing about their favorite pairing of the three.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
It’s not easy to check off her bucket list when Chloe is chronically ill and chronically online. But, she’s doing it. Moving out, check. Next: getting drunk, riding a motorcycle, and sleeping with someone without feelings getting in the way. For the last one, Chloe knows just the man for the job. Now, all she needs to do is convince him. Named a Best Romance of 2019, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is as funny as it is sweet.
The other two novels in the series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown and Act Your Age, Eve Brown were equally raved about for their sweetness and their heat. TikTok says you can’t go wrong diving into this series nor Hibbert’s other work.
BookTok in general is obsessed with tropes. You can’t scroll far before you’ll get videos dedicated to “books that make you cry” or “love at first sight” or “second chance romance.” Whatever trope you love, you’re sure to find at least one video with recommendations on what to read next. Romance TikTok is no different.
Enemies to Lovers
BookTok loves the “enemies to lovers” trope, seemingly more than any other. At least ten of the one hundred I reviewed made some mention, if not was dedicated completely, to novels that used that dynamic.
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
Piper is a social media influencer plagued by paparazzi. When she gets herself into trouble, she gets cut off and sent to a small town in Washington to run a dive bar. There, she meets local gruff fisherman Brendan, who insists she won’t make it two seconds. The pair butt heads and, as with any good enemies-to-lovers romance, attraction simmers just under the surface. It’s no secret everyone is in love with this Schitt’s Creek inspired romcom.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy prides herself in everyone liking her, especially everyone at work. Everyone, that is, except for her office-mate Joshua. No, instead, they’re locked in a game of one-upmanship that never ends. They’ve agreed, if Lucy wins, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If Joshua wins, Lucy resigns. Simple. But that hate turns into something different, leaving Lucy wondering if that’s all part of the game too. TikTok says you’re sure to love the banter and chemistry between these two rivals.
The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Biochemical engineer Liya is independent and happily so. When her parents throw a dinner party as a guise to set her up, she flees as soon as she can. Then, her ditched date, a lawyer, shows up at her office to try to keep her company afloat. It’s safe to say that neither of them are happy to see each other. But late nights full of banter turn into heartfelt discussions about their pasts. Maybe this time, Liya won’t make a break for the door.
Second Chance Romance
Everyone loves a second chance, and TikTok is no different. The romance side of TikTok loves an opportunity to try again. Maybe circumstances were different the first time. Maybe the couple needed to grow up a little bit. Whatever the reason, second chance romances are some of the most popular romance books on TikTok.
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
New pediatrics resident Macy is content. She has her job and a fiancé who is financially secure: what more could she ask for? Who cares if her heart wasn’t exactly in it? But, when she runs into her first love, Elliot, she collides with the past and the feelings she had before. Will she stick with her secure, albeit boring, path or will she try again with the man who broke her heart? TikTokers describe this one as “heartfelt” and “beautiful” with lyrical writing they wouldn’t ever forget.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Eva and Shane had a week-long whirlwind when they were teenagers. But that was decades ago. Now, Eva is a bestselling erotica author and Shane an award-winning literary recluse. When they meet unexpectedly at a literary event, the same sparks from the past come back. Setting off on a seven-day summer affair, the pair reconnect. But, after what happened when they were teens, can they really trust each other? And, what comes next? Full of pop culture references and summer escapades, Seven Days in June is an emotional journey you’re not soon to forget.
Whether it’s pop-culture favorites or mythology based, TikTok loves retellings. And, the more romantic, the better.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Loosely based on Elizabeth Taylor’s life, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo centers around Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo as she tells reporter, Monique Grant, the story of her life. From Hugo’s early days in the 1950s to the present, she regales the journalist with love stories, drama, and friendship alike. As they grow closer and Hugo’s story progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer Monique wasn’t chosen by happenstance. Readers love the complex characters and the bisexual representation.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
As indicated by the title, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is a retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But, this time, the leads are Dr. Trisha Raje, a neurosurgeon, and DJ Caine, a chef on the rise. Their paths cross when the Raje’s offer DJ a job, and then again when DJ’s sister needs the expertise of a neurosurgeon. They clash over assumptions they’ve each made about each other, but the more time they spend together, the less their assumptions seem accurate. Maybe they’re more similar than either of them thinks.
A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair
Everyone knows the story of Persephone and Hades, right? St. Clair, however, spins a new tale full of intrigue and romance in this modern retelling. Persephone, disguised as a human journalist, wants to live a normal life. But, after she meets the God of the Dead, Hades, her dream of an unassuming life are dashed. She must learn to cope in the Underworld, or her freedom will forever be out of reach. Feelings, no matter how forbidden, start to creep in.
There’s nothing like the tension and drama of fake dating. There’s nothing better than the promises the characters make to keep feelings out of the equation, and how quickly they break as pretend touches become too real.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane needs practice in the whole dating category. Math has always been her world, so she missed that whole part of growing up. Her solution? Hire escort Michael Phan. He’s experienced, he’s gorgeous, and he needs money enough not to refuse her offer. Stella’s got a lesson plan and everything. Easy peasy, right? Love has no place here. Right? TikTokers love the representation of autism, the pair’s chemistry, and the totally unexpected way their no-feelings-attached arrangement quickly becomes something else.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Olive Smith has too much to do to care about love. She’s a third-year Pd.D. candidate, so where would she even find the time? But her best friend does and, in an effort to convince Ahn she’s putting herself out there, she kisses the first man she sees…Adam Carlsen, a professor. Thankfully, he agrees to keep the charade going to keep Ahn off Olive’s back. And, as it turns out, having Carlsen on her side gets her out of a dire situation that has her entire career on the line. Their experiment, though, proves different results than Olive predicted.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Drew Nichols doesn’t have a date to his ex’s wedding, which is totally unacceptable. By chance, he gets stuck in an elevator with Alexa Monroe, presenting the perfect solution to his problems: fake dating. Alexa agrees and the pair endure the wedding festivities together. And, maybe, they have a little more fun than either of them expected. After they depart to their separate homes, though, they can’t stop thinking about each other. Will they be able to handle the distance?
You can’t scroll long before you’ll find a video talking about the “spiciness” of a novel. Referring to how sexy or steamy a novel is, many TikTokers developed their own rating system for their viewers. No matter what spiciness level you’re looking for, TikTok will deliver.
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Elle Kennedy is another beloved author on TikTok, especially in the “spicy” category. The Deal is without a doubt Kennedy’s most recommended book on TikTok. This new adult college romp focuses on Hannah, newly scorned and lacking in the seduction area, and Garrett, aspiring professional hockey player with a GPA that puts his dreams in danger. Hannah and Garett seem to be the solutions to each other’s problems, until the sex leaves them both wanting more.
Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas
They started as pen pals, Misha and Ryen, when they were in elementary school. Years later, they’ve kept up writing each other about anything and everything. And they have rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. Then, Misha comes across the picture of a girl named Ryen who likes all the same things his pen pal likes. Coincidence? Definitely not. Now Misha knows, and meets Ryen, without her knowing it’s him, their vow is broken. Will their relationship survive these new parameters, or will they lose the connection they had on paper?
For some reason, TikTok loves books from the early 2000 and 2010s. The Song of Achilles, The Hunger Games, and They Both Die at the End are just a few examples of the way TikTok likes to look back. Whether it’s for nostalgic reasons or these books are wholly new to the younger generations, you’re sure to encounter a throwback or two while scrolling.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Getting shipped off to a boarding school in Paris was not part of Anna’s plans for her senior year. She had to leave behind her best friend, the job she loves, and the guy she’d been crushing on all at once. But, then she meets the gorgeous and charming Etienne St. Clair at school, and she thinks maybe boarding school won’t be so bad. One small problem, though: Etienne has a girlfriend. And, it’s serious. Anna, though, doesn’t think that’s any reason to give up, especially in a place as romantic as the City of Light.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette’s touch kills. Literally. The last time she touched someone, she became a murderer — by accident, of course. To make matters worse, no one knows why she has this curse nor how to fix it. No, instead they lock her up so she doesn’t hurt anyone else. Enter Adam, Juliett’s new cellmate. A great idea, right? But then she learns she can touch him and he can touch her back and her small, isolated world grows. This YA take-down-the-system dystopia is rife with metaphor and lyrical writing that continues to charm readers across TikTok.
Hopefully you enjoyed this deep dive into the most popular romance books on TikTok! If you want to read more about the book world in the app we’re all obsessed with, check out this general breakdown of books that are popular on TikTok, or this list of authors to follow! Or take this quiz based on your FYP and get a book recommendation!
Or, if you want personalized recommendations and your FYP isn’t cutting it, Book Riot’s TBR is here to help! When you sign up, you’ll get paired with one of our expert bibliologists who will match you with your next perfect read, romance or otherwise! All you have to do is tell them what you like (and what you don’t) and, like magic, recommendations will show up in your inbox, or in your mailbox, depending on what you prefer!