BookTok, a subcommunity on the app TikTok, has transformed the literary world and greatly influenced the resurgence of reading.
After the app’s popularity skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, bored teenagers used the social media platform to market their favourite books to young audiences.
The biggest book club in the world under the hashtag #booktok has now accumulated over 103 billion views, helping readers to discover their next favourite author while increasing book sales.
Scarlett Acres, a 20 year old student in Nottingham, started her BookTok account @booksfortiktok in May 2020.
She said: “I always enjoyed reading throughout school, but I cared too much that people thought it was geeky. I was scared of drawing attention by creating a social media account about it.
“When lockdown began, I realised I wasn’t going to see the people from school again and my brother said ‘what do you have to be afraid of?’ So I started it and it just kind of blew up.”
With over 5,000 followers, Scarlett’s passion for reading has led her to collaborate with publishing companies such as Penguin Michael Joseph, HarperCollins Publishers and Avon Books.
Scarlett read a whopping 73 books in 2022, so she is pretty knowledgeable of what makes a good read. Here are her top five recommendations so you can safely add them to your list without hesitation.
Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney
Goffney’s second coming of age novel powerfully explores body positivity and directly confronts toxic views towards sex.
Monique is a 17-year-old Black Baptist preacher’s daughter who has grown up with the view that sex before marriage is wrong. However, after many secret attempts with her boyfriend, Monique learns she has vaginismus— a condition where vaginal muscles contract involuntarily, preventing penetration.
While on her journey with two unlikely companions to ‘fix’ her body, Monique faces some home truths about family, true love and unconditionally loving herself.
Scarlett said: “The topics included in the book are essential for young girls to be exposed to as they grow up.
“Goffney normalises important issues about sex and the body that most authors wouldn’t touch on, which can really help young women accept who they are.”
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Published in 2018 and subsequently adapted into a successful television series, Rooney’s second book uses a third person narrative to explore the complicated relationship of two young adults, Marianne and Connell, along a four year timeline.
Rooney’s powerful way of conveying the main characters’ imperfect yet loveable characteristics allows the readers to connect deeply with them. These comparable qualities are what had Scarlett so hooked to the romance novel.
She said: “Everything about this book is amazing. I loved the honest way the author depicted serious topics like men’s mental health, sex, class differences and family issues.”
The decision to refrain from using speech punctuation throughout the book sparked a debate amongst readers on TikTok. While some view it as an ‘irritating’ obstacle which stopped them from getting into the book, others labelled it as an ‘artistic flare’ that mirrors the couple’s lack of communication in their relationship.
Scarlett said: “I definitely think that this was a circumstance where watching the TV series before reading the book paid off. It helped me to understand the writing style more and imagine the characters as I read.”
Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn
Journalist Natasha Lunn explores love in all its forms through a series of conversations with an exceptional array of authors, educators and psychotherapists.
This heartwarming collection reflects on personal experiences about falling in love, friendship, loss, sex, loneliness and much more.
Scarlett said: “I fell in love with everything about this book, it’s incredibly moving and really changes your perspective of what’s important in life.
“There’ll be some topics that you might not relate to, but it still hits you and makes you think deeply.”
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
This hilarious memoir recounts the adventures of a woman navigating through her 20s and has stolen the hearts of many modern romantics, becoming the new ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ of this generation.
Serving as an older sister to many, Alderton speaks about experiences like growing up, new jobs, bad dates and heartbreak, the power of friendships and the importance of self love throughout it all.
Scarlett said: “I read this book at a time I needed it the most without even realising.
“I really related with this book, I think it’s a must read for anyone who is going through their twenties and needs reassurance that you don’t have to have it all figured out yet.”
As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson
As the third and final instalment in the bestselling, award-winning ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ trilogy, this book received high exceptions from its avid readers.
The murder-mystery style trilogy begins with ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’, which follows the main character Pippa (Pip) as she sets out to find the truth behind a closed murder case. As the case unravels, Pippa starts to uncover hidden secrets within her small town.
In the following books, Pippa returns to her investigative side after someone she knows goes missing. Additionally, the release of her viral true-crime podcast leaves Pippa tormented by an anonymous stalker in a thrilling ‘full-circle’ finale.
Scarlett said: “I feel like many book series tend to dip by the time you get to the final book, but this trilogy just seemed to keep getting better, and darker – I couldn’t put it down.
“There’s a perfect amount of humour and romance without ruining the suspense and mystery within the book.”