By Nimra Amir, October 12 2022—
#BookTok is a community of users on TikTok who post videos on all things book related from reviews and recommendations to memes and hauls. So, for those who need an outlet to talk about a recent read or for those who cannot decide what to read next, #BookTok is the place to go. Naturally, over the last few years, the hashtag has gained considerable popularity — now with over 81.9 billion views.
I, however, decided to see for myself if the #BookTok recommendations are actually worth the hype by reading five of the most popular #BookTok recommendations — and like many others, I unsurprisingly found that most of the time they are not. There was the occasional book that I enjoyed but generally I would not recommend reading books just because they are popular on #BookTok and instead, because they would actually interest you. But if you’re not sure what kind of genre you like, then #BookTok may be a great resource as you come to figure out what kind of books peak your interest and what kind of books do not. Here’s what I think about the books I read and what I would rate each out of five. There might be a spoiler or two if you keep reading.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid — 4/5
Revered movie icon Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell the truth about her scandalous Hollywood life — from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to leaving the show business in the 1980s and, of course, the seven husbands she had along the way. But, out of all people, she chooses relatively unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant to write the story for her.
By the time I had finished the book, I forgot that Hugo is not a real celebrity. Her character feels so whole in the sense that she is deeply flawed in just as many ways as she is not. But it is despite these flaws or perhaps even because of them that we get such a brutally honest portrayal of love in all its forms. I wish that Grant’s character — who was more of a predictable plot device — felt real in the same way.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and translated by Geoffrey Trousselot — 3/5
A small back alley café in Tokyo has been serving coffee that allows its customers to travel back in time. But this experience is not as easy as it seems since the customers must sit in a particular seat the whole time and most importantly, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.
This felt like a book you would have to read in English class. It was a set of four stories each relating to a bigger message of regret. Before I started caring about one story, however, the next one was already starting and so, as powerful as the message was, it felt underwhelming.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller — 3/5
Patroclus is an awkward young prince who meets the charming Achilles after he is exiled from his homeland. They create an inseparable bond that is tested by fate when Achilles joins the heroes of Greece as they are called upon to lay siege to Troy in the name of Helen of Sparta.
I do not mind tropes but when it came to Patroclus and Achilles, it felt like the tropes were just all that they were and not even likeable tropes at that. Maybe, the hype just made this fallback seem worse than it is because otherwise, it was written pretty decently but decent is about the best I can say.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry — 4/5
Nora Stephens is a cutthroat literary agent from New York City who reads enough books to know that she, as the corporate shark, is not the heroine in anyone’s story. That is until she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina with her little sister where she keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a brooding editor she knows from back in New York City.
By the end of the book, I was worried if Stephens was going to be made to change to get a happy ending but thankfully — despite being a bit of a pick-me at times — she is accepted for who she is, especially by the love interest — who is also a bit of a pick-me at times. A cringe match made in heaven that was above all just fun to read about.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab — 1/5
Addie LaRue the night before her wedding makes a Faustian deal to live a life of complete freedom — where she is obligated to no one but herself. This does not go exactly as planned since, although she can live forever, she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets until one day she meets a young man in a bookstore who does remember her.
To put it bluntly, I wish I could forget LaRue too. For someone, who has lived for centuries, she has no character development and how could she when she has lived mostly just in Europe and America where she does nothing notable except occasionally steal or have the odd one-day relationship.