I Read 5 Books from #BookTok and This is What Happened


Photo Credit: Anna Salinas

Anna Salinas, OwlFeed Editor-in-Chief

Well well well. It got me. TikTok got me. I love reading books but ever since my sophomore year of high school I took a very long break from reading as I was stressing and trying not to have a break down over online school. 

But ever since I got a part-time job, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things as I have been buying books like a crazy person. Over the summer, a very popular thing to do was people sharing their favorite books all over the well-known platform TikTok. 

Now of course this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to writing stories about TikTok. For god’s sake, I wrote a story about Ratatouille: The Musical. But what is known as #BookTok which is a community full of book lovers, people all over the platform have recommended their favorites and I just so happen to read a couple. 

BookTok has creators recommending a variety of books, but some of the most recommended ones are questioned if they’re worthy or not of recommendation. It’s even questioned if this is the best platform to recommend these books. One of the reasons so many books are recommended is because they are known as depressing or shocking, or even happy and genuinely beautiful. 

BookTok is soooo huge now from when it started. According to Conor Murray from NBC News, “Retailers like Barnes & Noble have taken advantage of BookTok’s popularity to market titles popular on the app to customers by creating specialized shelves featuring books that have gone viral.” 

If you were to walk into a bookstore right now like Barnes & Noble you would find a table right in front of you saying “#BookTok.”

This has been very helpful towards bookstores as some have hit a low in sales in recent years. People have started going back to buy the latest popularity from good ole #BookTok. But are most of the books actually worth acquiring? Well if you want to figure that out for yourself you 100 percent can, but if you don’t spend the money or just aren’t interested, then I’m your guy for this part. 

So here are five books I have read from #BookTok and if I think they are worth the hype to read. So sit back, relax, and read as I talk about some of the saddest books ever suggested on #BookTok.

#1- They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera- 4/5

Long before the book was ever popular on #BookTok, I read They Both Die At The End when it first came out in 2017. At the time, Adam Silvera was one of my favorite authors as he wrote stories History Is All You Me, What If It’s Us with Becky Albertalli, and my personal favorite More Happy Than Not.

Adam Silvera’s stories surround topics of queer love, mental illness, and even gives his stories futuristic elements.

They Both Die At The End takes place in a society where a little after midnight people will receive a phone call from a contact called Death-Cast saying they will die in the next 24 hours. They don’t know how they will die or when, they just know they will die sometime that day. Our story follows protagonists Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio as they both were given the devastating news that they will die. 

Of course the title says it all, but what I like about the story is it makes you question: is that really going to happen? And then it rips you to shreds by the last chapter like most authors like to do.

Is this story worth the hype? In some ways yes but in some ways no. While we follow our protagonists we also meet other characters we wish we knew more about, and the twist is a twist that was shocking but afterward the shock value floated away.

#2- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller- 5/5

I remember the first week after I got my job, I knew I wanted to buy a new book and this was the most mentioned book all over #BookTok. So, of course, I decided to buy it. But the reason I decided to buy it was not only its popularity, but because of the reason for its popularity.

The Song of Achilles written by Madeline Miller is a retelling of Greek mythology based on the Iliad. According to The Guardian, “The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus who, exiled by his father to live in the court of Peleus, soon falls in love with his host’s son, the superhuman Achilles: from childhood, his demi-god status means he is swifter, more beautiful and more skilled than all his peers.”

Now without giving spoilers, I will 100 percent say this story is the most beautiful, heart-wrenching story to have ever been written. Miller has so many lines throughout the story that gives me chills whenever I hear or read them. This book is so good at drawing emotion that I didn’t start crying until the last page (yes I have emotions). 

Honestly, is this book hyped too much? Answer: No, I think it 100 percent deserves the hype. I think if you’re someone who likes mythology or even if you don’t like mythology, it’s a good story for everyone. 

#3- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart- 3.5/5

This is the third book stop in #BookTok town. This book is called We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and the major reason it was recommended was because of its twist ending. 

We Were Liars goes back and forth between the past and present as Cadence, a teenage girl who suffers from memory loss, tries to recall what happened on a past trip to her family’s private island. 

While yes this story made me bawl my eyes out about the twist at the end, it also made me mad about what the twist was. Like how did I not predict that when there were so many signs?

 I will say I do enjoy the way it is written, but it made me feel like I was watching a teen movie from the early 2000s. Also, there isn’t really a message to go along with it or a lesson learned, it’s just a story told about a girl with memory loss and we get to find out the truth with her. 

Is it too highly recommended? Simply, yes. I can completely understand why people like the story and why some people don’t, but it’s not for everyone. 

#4- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz- 3/5

Now for a story that isn’t as upsetting as the others is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I have seen this story before it was ever popularized on BookTok. I remember being very excited about this book because of how hyped it was before #BookTok. 

This book takes place in the 1980s in El Paso, Texas, and follows Mexican-American teens Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana throughout their friendship and struggles surrounding race and ethnicity, sexuality and family relationships. 

I did enjoy various aspects of the book, but sometimes felt like it was kind of slow and with the reveal, at the end, I kinda saw it coming, so nothing about it was very life-changing. I do think it was very well written and was just glad that it was a story with a happy ending, unlike the others. 

I honestly do recommend this book considering there will be a sequel coming out in November but I don’t think it’s something that everybody should have to read.

#5- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven- 3.8/5

Finally, added to my collection of depressing stories is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. You may recognize this title if you’ve seen the movie created by Netflix with the same title. This book tackles struggles of mental health whilst being in a romantic relationship. 

The synopsis for All the Bright Places can simply be explained as “a compelling and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.”

I read this book very quickly because I wanted to know what would happen at the end, which it was mainly hyped about and yeah, it was very sad. But the story is also beautiful as it talks about the relationship between Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. This story really paints the scenario of being in a relationship where both people are going through different situations, where one is growing and developing and the other is doing the complete opposite.

I would recommend this book but it’s also kinda forgettable to me. Definitely something I would have to re-read, which isn’t a bad thing, but it just didn’t leave as big of an impact on me as some of the others did.

To conclude, is it okay to like these stories? Yes, it is. Is it okay to not like these? Also yes. Stories recommended on #BookTok aren’t always to everyone’s taste as people can like different things when it comes to literature. And that’s also to just life in general. 

So if you want to spend your money on any of these books that interest you, go full steam ahead. This is just my opinion on them but I do recommend reading what you want and even recommending your own favorite books as it can help others get into reading, benefit bookstores, and even can make the #BookTok community even bigger. 

So don’t be afraid to look at #BookTok for a good book others have enjoyed as well. Who knows, you just might like it too.