Curious to know what’s worth the hype on #BookTok this Gift-y Season? Curious to know on earth BookTok even is? Arika from Team Booksweet is here with the answers you seek in this blog post!

Like most readers, I usually stick to the books that I know I’ll like: characters who are unlikeable and plot lines with an odd twist. But it’s equally important to try new things and discover new favorites. For this, I get new recs from BookTok! 

If you’re not on the app, TikTok, there’s really no reason to know this, but BookTok is a subcommunity on the app that focuses on books and literature. To tap into it, just log into the TikTok app and type in #BookTok. Creators make videos reviewing, discussing, and joking about the books they read. Some creators create videos, describing the aesthetic of the book. These books range in genre (with a heavy focus on young adult fiction, young adult fantasy, and romance, in keeping with the demographics of the app). 

While TikTok isn’t my favorite, I find it helpful and fun to explore BookTok reviews before purchasing. Another similar community for this: Bookstagram. You guessed it: it’s just like BookTok, but on Instagram. 

You can find Booksweet on TikTok and Instagram at @shopbooksweet. Our team of ARC Readers posts reviews regularly on Instagram, which we share via Insta Stories (click the “ARC Recs” highlight to explore their recent reviews). 

This month, I swam through the sea of BookTok reviews and surfaced with my top three recommendations for Booksweet readers to give (or receive!) this gift-y season. (No spoilers, promise.)

Recommendation #1: Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese
Ok, this is a love story and while some people aren’t romance fans, this one is different and totally worth it. It follows two characters who are in the same friend group together. They begin “fake dating” when they notice their friends are trying to make them a couple. One of my favorite parts of the book is the representation of neuro-divergent characters. Chloe Liese does a great job representing neuro-diversity without romanticizing it in the process. Plus, it’s nice to have issues like this in books because it makes the characters more realistic and relatable. Some content warnings I will give is that it features panic attacks and toxic relationships. Despite that, I couldn’t stop smiling. Two Wrongs Make a Right is the perfect book if you’re in the mood for a love story, but you don’t want to read any of those cheesy tropes.

Recommendation #2: Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn
The sequel of Legendborn is finally out!  I’m not usually a huge fan of fantasy novels, but this series is different. Called “a modern day twist on Arthurian legend” the series follows a Black teenage girl who attempts to infiltrate a historically white magical society during her time at a pre-college program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discovering her own unique magic in the process. Legendborn is critically acclaimed and received the Coretta Scott King Award/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. The series is fast paced, with as much nuance as intensity: I was glued to the pages. I also love the representation of People of Color in this book and the complexity of the characters and the society. Tracy Deonn is an amazing writer, with exacting language and vivid descriptions.  I would recommend this series to anyone interested in dipping their toes in the fantasy genre.

Recommendation #3: The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
This book follows Bobby Western, a salvage diver whose work is conducted 40 feet under the sea, pressing into the watery unknown to investigate a jet crash in the Gulf of Mexico. Doesn’t that sound simple? Trust me: it’s not. Like with most McCarthy books, The Passenger is more about the character’s inner-life than the plot. McCarthy’s word choice is otherworldly, painting vivid pictures of the seafloor and its wreckage. The characters are personable and the intense undertone is so amazing. My father and I read this book together, enjoying regular phone calls to talk about it–and it’s a complex story, with much to discuss. 

Happy BookTok-ing, readers!