Books are a big part of my life and show up in most aspects of it. Not only do I use reading for escape and entertainment, but I write for Book Riot, review books for a professional review journal, run a BookTok account with tens of thousands of followers, and I’m a librarian. So it’s pretty important that I stay up to date on trending books. While it’s impossible for me to know about every single popular book out there, it would be pretty embarrassing if most times a book came up, I had no idea what the other person was talking about. So how do I find out about trending books?
I won’t belabor this one — you’re already here, so you probably know! But Book Riot is a great resource to see which books are trending. Checking the homepage daily can give you an idea of which titles are mentioned again and again, both front and backlist. We also offer newsletters so you can stay up-to-date on the latest in specific genres and other areas, as well as podcasts. All of this content is created by book lovers who have immersed themselves in the world of books and publishing, so you can bet they are sharing about all the latest and most popular trending books (and, of course, more).
In addition to running a BookTok account, I of course also view and engage with lots of other BookTok content on TikTok. This enables me to see what other users are talking about and loving. Interestingly, with BookTok, this often ends up being backlist books like They Both Die at the End, which got massively popular in 2020 thanks to a handful of videos going viral about the book, years after its 2017 publication. The videos themselves became something of legend, leading to a YouTube compilation of them. They Both Die at the End isn’t the only book to find fame on TikTok. Plenty of others have found larger audiences thanks to the app, and by following popular creators as well as smaller accounts, you can easily track which books are trending just by paying attention to which videos are mentioned with greater frequency. You can even try to make a personal favorite book go viral to get it trending. The author would no doubt appreciate it!
With Instagram, book cover aesthetics hold a bit more weight than book content for the sake of pretty photos, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get valuable information about trending books on the app. Check out hashtags like #BookRecommendations to see which titles appear over and over again. Follow some fellow book lovers and keep an eye out for repeated mentions. This will help give you a good idea of what is trending.
Twitter is quite the beast when it comes to staying on top of trending books. There are a number of avenues here, and likely to be more than what’s listed here. To find out what’s trending, it’s smart to follow bookish influencers, publishers, authors, bookstores, and libraries on Twitter. Events like #AskALibrarian can hint at popular books by way of how many times a given title is recommended (though #AskALibrarian, on Thursdays at noon Eastern, is also great for finding lesser-known gems).
Review journals are another great way to stay on top of what’s trending in the world of books, often ahead of them actually trending. Reviewers often use a star system to indicate especially good books which can influence their popularity once they hit the market. The drawback to review journals is, most of them are subscription, meaning you have to pay to get access to them. If you’re really interested in getting your hands on these, check with your library. Many public libraries receive copies of review journals like Booklist and Library Journal to help inform their purchases. Some libraries then make the journals available to the public or keep an archive for staff that the public may request to see.
Visit Your Library or Bookstore
Library and bookstore staff often get advanced reader copies and have other ways to stay up on trending books before they are available to the public. Often, popular titles will be made especially available to browsers. Watch out for those display tables, posters, and other advertisements for books. There’s a good chance that if those books aren’t already trending, they will be soon.
Signing up for publisher newsletters is a free and easy way to find out what books are trending. Publishers benefit from the publicity, and you get a sense of what books they are pushing based on what titles are highlighted in newsletters. Language like “highly anticipated” and “hot” can also help clue you in to what books to look out for. Find Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster, and don’t forget to check your favorite indie publishers for their newsletters.
While you could go out to all the news sources to see what they’re saying about publishing, it’s perhaps a little easier to go to Google News and simply type “books” (or whatever more specific term you’d like to use) in the search bar. It’s not perfect, but will usually help scrape together the best-of lists and other trending-relevant news among other things. You can even set up an alert to have the same information delivered to your inbox.
This is just a taste of all the options to keep on top of trending books. While there are lots of other ways, these are some of my favorites. They’re fun, easy, and free, so why not give them a try?