Book Tok-xic?


Reyde Jones, Graphics Director

TW: Contains Colleen Hoover Criticism

“Booktok,” or the side of TikTok solely dedicated to discussing, recommending, and occasionally bashing books–There’s definitely good things about Booktok, you’ve got the surge of publicity for new books, endless book recommendations, and small accounts that are actually getting money from talking about books. I’m not too sure the good outweighs the bad though. The darker (a term I use extremely loosely) side of Booktok has an excess amount of cancel culture and lowkey false advertising. 

Booktok has opened the doors to a whole new world for people who didn’t previously read all that much, which brings up the question I’ve been dying to ask. Is reading trendy or timeless? For people like me who’ve loved to read their entire lives, it can be slightly frustrating to see our favorite pastime become the latest fad. The stereotype of the quiet bookworm is gone, but is this for the better? I promise I’m not trying to gatekeep here, I’m really not. Reading is great for everyone, no matter when or what you start with. I mean, as long as you didn’t start with Colleen Hoover books.

The cult of Colleen Hoover is unreal. She’s managed to sink her claws into an alarming number of young adults worldwide, but I just don’t get it. Why does she have this pull, or better yet, what helped her? Booktok is the match that lit the Colleen Hoover flame for most, starting the pandemic not everyone knew about. I remember scrolling through TikTok one day and seeing multiple videos talking about how good It Ends With Us was, so of course I had to get it because if a book is hyped up by multiple people, you’d have to think it’s amazingly good. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I hated the book. I didn’t even finish it before giving up on it, something that I rarely do. After finding out what happens at the end of the book, from a Booktok spoiler of course, I was glad I didn’t finish it. I like to read happy things, real life can be sad enough as it is. She’s built her brand on heart-wrenching romance novels that may have somewhat of a happy ending. 

Guys, I have so many book recommendations. Please just read something else.

Booktok is notorious for “canceling” authors, books, and the occasional Booktok account. Sometimes these cancellations are needed, such as J.K. Rowling, but most of the time its isn’t. The members of booktok are like vultures, stalking their prey and striking when the time is right. Comments made on social media outlets decades ago can come back to haunt you if you aren’t careful. One major thing you have to worry about as a Booktokker is the authors you support. If you’re not careful, you could also be canceled for backing someone the rest of Booktok has deemed problematic. 

Occasionally, booktokkers will bash other books in order to tell people to read what they believe should be read. For example, recently some accounts have been bashing Sarah J Maas books. These accounts say that the books are overhyped and that we should read something that is actually good. Why do we have to drag down someone’s work–something that they poured their heart and soul into, in order to recommend something to read. It’s ok to recommend books that you think are good; it’s even ok to say you didn’t love a book. What’s not ok is tearing another person down just to get your point across.

Something that started as a way to share books with fellow readers has morphed into something darker, maybe even toxic. When did reading become all about who the best author is, or what books deserve the “hype”? 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Booktok, even though I love you, you’re extremely toxic.