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Is BookTok worth the buzz?

Analyzing three books that have found success on Tiktok

With the influence of social media on modern culture, the books people read are often swayed by what’s popular on “BookTok,” “BookTube,” and “Bookstagram.” Bookstores often even have a “BookTok” table, advertising the books that are currently popular on social media. 

Many authors have gained popularity through BookTok, often making accounts of their own to promote their books. One author who does this is Ali Hazelwood, author of The Love Hypothesis and seven other books. Once a book becomes popular on the internet, its sales soar through the roof. The question stands, is this popularity reflective of the quality of these books, or are people just buying what they see? 

To dive into this question, I’ve chosen three books that have seen success through various forms of social media: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Circe by Madeline Miller.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo follows famous actress Evelyn Hugo through her career and her seven marriages. Published in 2017, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is Reid’s fifth book, however it was the first one to achieve mainstream success through social media. Her following three books also became popular on social media, making Reid more than just a one-hit wonder. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo introduces us to Monique Grant, a journalist for Vivant magazine who is struggling with her career. One day, Evelyn Hugo requests Monique specifically to write her biography. Monique doesn’t understand why she’s been chosen, but she can’t turn down this opportunity, even if it means screwing over Vivant. 

As Evelyn tells Monique her story, the reality behind each of her marriages unravels. There’s more to the story than people know, and Evelyn is ready for the truth to come out. But, when Monique finds out why Evelyn chose her, everything is turned upside down. Monique must grapple with telling Evelyn’s truth while also struggling with her new feelings towards Evelyn. 

While it may at first seem like nothing more than the love story of a privileged woman, this book explores much deeper topics. Evelyn’s story starts in the 1950s, and the story explores how Evelyn, a Cuban woman, has to change her identity to fit in in Hollywood. It also discusses homophobia, and the need for individuals in that time period to hide their sexuality. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The writing is so easy to sink into and contains so many beautiful quotes. The characters are written so realistically, and their stories are all fascinating and intriguing. Reid writes beautifully about love and grief and knows how to craft a book that you can’t put down. 

Six of Crows

Six of Crows is the story of a group of young rebels with a chance to pull off a life-changing heist. The Six of Crows duology is part of the Grishaverse series and was the fourth book published, but follows a different set of characters and can be read as a standalone. While the series as a whole is by no means unpopular, Six of Crows seems to have a fanbase of its own.

Kaz Brekker is a young gang leader with no family and no money. 

When Kaz is offered a chance to pull off the impossible, the potential reward is too great to turn down. Kaz recruits the strongest team he knows: the best spy in the city and Kaz’s closest friend, Inej, gunslinging Jesper, Matthias, the one who knows the lay of the land, Nina, a soldier with supernatural powers to take or save lives with the flick of a hand and explosives expert, Wylan. This heist could be deadly. Kaz believes in his crew, but could tensions among the group be their downfall? 

As someone who doesn’t read a lot of fantasy, I didn’t have very high expectations for this book, but I was happily surprised. The story was exciting and very tense, always keeping me reading to find out how the crew would make it out alive. The characters all have deep backstories that inspire sympathy, even when their actions sometimes seem unforgivable. The story involved a significant amount of violence which was not for my tastes, but it was well-written and full of twists and turns, keeping it interesting right up until the very end. 

Circe

Circe is a retelling from Greek mythology, following the life of the witch Circe

Miller’s first book, The Song of Achilles, which tells the story of Achilles and Patroclus, is quite possibly one of the most popular books on social media. Circe came out seven years after The Song of Achilles, and although it never garnered quite the same popularity, Miller’s esteem was enough to make Circe yet another bestseller, making its way to many influencers to read lists. 

A daughter of the titan, Helios, and always falling under the shadow of her powerful brother, Circe lived a lonely childhood. When she falls in love with a mortal fisherman, Circe will do anything she can to make him live forever alongside her. But when her attempts at creating immortality have more effects than she bargained for, Circe discovers powers she never knew she had. 

When her powers end up causing harm to others, she is banished to an island where she will be alone for eternity. However, Circe finds friends in the animals on the island, and over her years of solitude, she hones her craft. In the time that she spends on her island, many visitors make their way there, including the famous Odysseus, another mortal for Circe to fall in love with. With all the time that Circe has had to think, she must reconcile with her father, and in the end must choose between two worlds. 

Madeline Miller’s prose is absolutely stunning. Even if I didn’t like the story itself, I would read this again just for how beautifully it is written. The story is also beautiful and tells the story of a woman who must find peace with the life she has been given and learn to live for herself. The stories of Circe’s relationships with her visitors show how she grows over time, and, eventually, the life that she chooses for herself. 

For anyone interested in mythology this is a great read, and even for anyone who has no interest in mythology, this book is well worth your time.

Should we take recommendations from BookTok?

Overall, it’s safe to say that I enjoyed these books. Of course, this is only a sample of what BookTok has to offer, and the many other options that can be found on BookTok cover all different genres, age categories and styles. It seems like these books are indeed popular for a reason, and I will definitely be looking to BookTok for more recommendations in the future!

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