BookTok Recommendations To Determine If Your Reading List Is Worth It

booktok recommendations

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer intern
Olivia Charlson. Find her on Instagram at @olivialee2000. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

I fell for it. Again! The last time I was on vacation, I was foaming at the mouth to get my hands on a book recommendation. I saw it multiple times while scrolling my social media apps, it has a pretty cover and I saw someone reading it in my feminist theory class. Score! But why did no one tell me it’s more erotica than fantasy — and it’s all tension, no action up until page 200? I think I might have been better off opening my old Wattpad app and trying to find some fan fiction.

I am an avid reader and I am always looking for new fantasy books to get my hands on. Lucky for me, TikTok and Instagram have no short supply of book recommendations. But I keep buying the wrong ones. This is why I’m airing out some books I ran to the bookstore and bought after seeing them on BookTok. Time to find out if you still think it’s for you or if you’re better off browsing the aisles alone.

A Touch of Darkness

A Touch of Darkness

I fought with this book. If you hadn’t guessed the beach book was this one, now you know. Once you get past those first fifty pages it does get interesting, but it’s hard (no not like sexually, again, that happens way later in the book). This book is a retelling of Hades and Persephone in a modern-day world where Persephone is trying to lead a successful life in a human world. The problem is the writing can be very rough around the edges. For a book so hyped up, I wasn’t expecting that. The worst part is there are some very cool fantastical elements and interesting moments between a lot of the characters, but the world and characters still fall flat through their portrayal.

You will like this book if:

  1. You are looking for that beautiful, mindless, smutty romance story that’s an easy read.
  2. You do not mind how much the main character breaks the dialogue so she can glare at whoever she is talking to. 
  3. You find the idea of gods being incredibly horny while also having cool physical horns to be quite hilarious. 

You will not like this book if:

  1. You have a hard time imagining Hades in the more rich smooth talking role instead of the sunken soft man I wanted.
  2. You do not have any patience.
  3. You can not read this line without cringing: “The worst part was that there was a side of her, a side that she’d never known existed until tonight, that wanted to run back inside, find him, and demand a lesson in the anatomy of his body.”

The Song of Achilles

Please don’t come for my head. The ending of this book and the last few chapters are a work of art and the author knows what they’re doing in regards to mythology. This book is highly regarded and it has stolen the hearts of most of the reviewers I have seen. I even got stopped in a cafe while reading it just to be told it’s such a good book. It was just a miss for me, and frankly, a little bit boring. The book moves through several different settings and I found myself being frustrated having to read certain sections. The way sex is described in this book made me uncomfortable as a reader, whether it was all the young boys implied to be having sex or in certain scenes like when Patroclus and Deidameia have sex. It is a huge step to center a classic like the Iliad around a gay love story. However, the most explicit sex scene is when the characters are about 16 and it begs the question: should a straight woman be writing such a visual scene about two teenage boys? There is a sort of desperation in the characters that is both beautiful and hard to swallow on a day of light reading.

You will like this book if:

  1. You are looking for a well-written and aesthetically pleasing read.
  2. You enjoy retelling stories that are close to the original but have their own interpretation.
  3. You like being involved in such a big ship between two characters.

You will not like this book if: 

  1. You tend to avoid war movies or books in general.
  2. You can’t fight back the hoard of stans who will come with pitch forks if you also were not a fan.
  3. If a woman’s vagina is described as “greasy” and “like oil” makes you cringe even if it is a hint at the character’s nature or comment pointing to sexism or whatever.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus

This is a book I had heard about but wasn’t interested in necessarily until I saw it come up on my for-you page so many times. I liked the magic and the concepts throughout, but it’s a struggle to even describe this book to a person. Two magicians in a fated competition against each other only to fall in love sounds like a great time to me. The only problem is we barely watch them fall in love with each other. It feels like they barely know each other even at the end of the book. The worst part is the most interesting parts of the book are subplots and only really touched on (like Poppet and Bailey’s interactions or Tsukiko’s competition). There are some very poetic quotes that you can pull from this, but it needed work establishing its plot points and main characters.

You will like this book if:

  1. You are looking for a world with lots of fun magic elements to dive into. 
  2. You find that a story is better when the background characters are a large part of building the book.
  3. You trust your authors wholeheartedly and if they tell you two characters are in love, who are you to question that?

You will not like this book if:

  1. You have trouble jumping from one perspective to the other. 
  2. You are looking for some kind and reliable father figures. 
  3. You like the rules set in a universe to not be characters throwing arrows at a dartboard in the dark.

There are bound to be recommendations on social media that will lead you to your next favorite book. These are just a few reviews to test whether your reading list is actually yours. If you made it through these reviews and still want any of these books, go out and try them for yourself! 

Has Tiktok or Instagram pushed you to waste some money on a book that wasn’t your style? What BookTok recommendations have you read? Let us know in the comments below!

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