In 2023, BookTok once again dominates the literary world.
Although it may surprise some if there is one thing Tic Tac is it read. The community reads so much that it impacts book culture as a whole, from curated bulletin boards to bestseller lists. For online bibliophiles, this year has held new romantic obsessions, Emily Henry’s latest release, and several beloved adaptations.
Here are some of BookTok’s favorites from the year. If you didn’t meet your reading goals this year, here are some great titles to add to your TBR lists in 2024.
The guest by Emma Cline
This is the novel that has consumed BookTok – and most other spaces, from libraries to beaches – this summer and rightly so. Alex, a beautiful young con artist, is kicked out of her rich lover’s coastal home in the last days of summer. She plans to reconcile with him at her annual Labor Day party, but to do so Alex must find a way to stay in the rich city for the next five days. The story envelops the reader in unease, the tension never breaking, even in its final moments. And it’s this disturbing ending Really got TikTok talked about because it allowed creators to take up one of their favorite hobbies: theorize. — Elena Cavender, cultural journalist
Fourth wing by Rebecca Yarros
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail wanted to become a scribe (because we love main characters who read), but she is forced by her mother, the general commander of Navarre, to become a dragon rider (sexy and cool). Fourth wing is the kind of book TikTok was made to read. This is the first book in the Empyrean series, an adult enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel featuring dragons (hot), mommy issues (hot), and extremely high stakes (hot). The second volume in the series, Iron Flame, also came out this year but TikTok and I agree that it’s much harder to understand than the first book. This encouraged thousands of TikTok creators to post fan drawing, theoriesAnd fancasts. This book is a very fun read. — Christianna Silva, senior cultural journalist
Babel: or the necessity of violence: a mysterious history of the Oxford translators’ revolution by RF Kuang
Babel was released in 2022, but it became a sensation on TikTok this year. It follows Robin Swift, a sweet and intelligent boy orphaned by cholera in Canton in 1828 and brought to live with a very strange guy, Professor Lovell. Swift attended the prestigious Royal Institute of Translation at the University of Oxford, also known as Babel, where he studied Latin, ancient Greek and Chinese. The book addresses British imperialism, racism, power, imperial expansion and a shadowy secret society. Unlike many of the other books on this list, TikTokkers haven’t done many fancasts or created much of anything. fan drawing about Babel; instead, the creators used this book to talk about the main tenets of the text: racism, colonialismAnd language. — CS
happy place by Emily Henry
Emily Henry Hive gained momentum this summer with the release of her fourth (!) romance novel in the last three years. Beloved for their adorable yet likable protagonists and subtle Taylor Swift references, Henry’s books quickly became a BookTok mainstay. It manages to appeal to both romance enthusiasts and skeptics alike with its inventive use of tired tropes and elevated prose. In happy place, Henry goes after the two exes for having lovers and fake relationships when Harriet is forced to keep up appearances with her ex, Wyn, during the annual trip to their college friends’ cottage in Maine. It is his least classically romantic novel to date, which caused division on TikTok – but that doesn’t mean people (me) I didn’t like it. — THIS
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This book was published in 2020, but was making the rounds on TikTok this year for reasons unknown to me. Sometimes TikTok can be like that. Set in 1950s Mexico City, this book reads like a film noir in which a young socialite, Noemí Taboada, receives a very frightening letter from her cousin Catalina, who has just married a (shocking!) white man , and begs for help from his cousin. . Taboada goes to help his cousins and discovers that something very strange is happening in that house. TikTok reviews of this book call it a “fever dream,” and the speech touches a little on racism in the novel. Meanwhile, other creators simply follow the classic path of creation aesthetic base on the book and fancasts. — CS
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zévin
If you told me last year that a book about video game creators that everyone on TikTok loved would make me cry, I’d call you a liar. But then I read Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and, my God, y’all, it’s so good. The book follows Sam Masur and Sadie Green, two video game developers who love each other – but never cross into lovers territory – as they create an exceptional game, Ichigo. Zevin does this phenomenal job of portraying the reality of what it means to be (excuse me) a messy person. The creators of TikTok gave us CommentsThey gave us aestheticand they gave us emotional vulnerability about that NPC Chapter. TikTok loved this book, and so did I. — CS
Yellow face by RF Kuang
Yes, there are two RF Kuang books on this list. TikTok has been obsessed with Kuang since her first book, The Poppy Warwas released to great acclaim in 2018. Yellow face, published in 2023, follows Juniper Hayward (a white woman) as she steals a novel from her deceased friend, Athena Liu (an Asian American), and publishes it under the name Juniper Song. TikTok gave us Comments, synopsis, memesAnd observations on racism in the book this reflects the racism in the publishing industry today. — CS
Red, white and royal blue by Casey McQuiston
Red, white and royal blue was released in 2019, and its cult following led to the release of a movie this year. He was a prince and he was the son of the president, can I make that more obvious? OK, to make it more obvious, Prince Henry of Wales and America’s first son, Alex Claremont Diaz, fall for each other in this delightful, unserious romance novel. TikTok returned to the novel in anticipation of the film, which includes some memorable characters it didn’t make the adaptation like Alex’s older sister, June Claremont-Diaz, and Henry’s mother, Queen Mary. THE the entire third act of the film differs from the novel, so there’s still a lot to take away from the novel if you’ve already seen the movie and want more romance. — THIS
All about love: new visions by bell hooks
All about love is almost 25 years old but still appears as if it were published today. It is a short book of 11 chapters in which the social theorist and critic presents a new approach to self-love without narcissism and exposes the roles that love and loss play in gender, race, capitalism, romance, etc. It takes a while on TikTok, and for good reason: All about love should be considered required reading for everyone. If you’ve seen it online this year, you’ve probably seen influencers read their favorite extracts of the book or try to convince you to read it yourself. — CS
Everything I know about love by Dolly Alderton
A large majority of TikTok users are between 18 and 34 years old, so this memoir—a fun memoir about friendships, work, love, and loss in your 20s—had some staying power on BookTok. Alderton’s memoir is known on TikTok as a book to help people feeling lost in their 20s and dealing with your first big heartbreak, moving in (and dating) your best friends, dealing with death and loss, and more. Everything I know about love was originally released in 2018 and had a Television adaptation Last year. TikTok served get ready with me, SO a lot extractsAnd a few Comments.— CS