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  • Kate Wolford

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This week's pick: Book Tok? Yes, Please!

I had assiduously avoided TikTok until about a month ago. It seemed so noisy and jumpy and too, too much. Yet, as a publisher, it seemed foolish to ignore the power of BookTok, which is owning the publishing world.


What I found was this: Passionate readers, particularly young women, are making videos that convincingly convey the powerful allure of a good book. Or the furious disappointment of a bad one. They are, more importantly, as attention spans grow ever shorter, helping keep the spirit of book reading alive. (I’m well aware that TikTok itself is one of the reasons why attention spans are getting shorter, but I’m working with what we have.)


Also, while certain names like Colleen Hoover are relentlessly dominating book sales, plenty of writers with smaller audiences are benefiting from the app. I found out about the fantastic Once Upon a Broken Heart series by Stephanie Garber thanks to BookTok, and while it’s definitely a big seller, Hoover’s work dwarfs it—and BookTok can claim a lot of responsibility for that. (I haven’t tried any of Hoover’s work yet, but based on what BookTok says, I suppose I will.)


Fantasy and romance genres are a big deal on BookTok, and that means that fairy tale and myth retellings are as well, and yes, you can narrow down your BookTok searches that specifically. What you’ll get will be snappy reviews with a good shot of a book’s cover, to help you narrow down your choices.


But beware: BookTok has lots and lots of drama and controversy. Not only that, it’s largely, but not entirely, 20-to-30-something women who are BookTokkers, so your tastes might not comport with theirs. For example, Leigh Bardugo books are huge on BookTok and I just don’t get the appeal. Lord knows I’ve tried. At the same time, I still enjoy reading books with young protagonists despite my age, so the youthfulness of BookTok works well for me.


The recommendations of books by Black, South Asian and East Asian authors alone are worth checking out BookTok for—not to mention work by Indigenous and Hispanic writers. In four short weeks, my consumption of books by nonwhite authors has ballooned and I’m loving it! I’m reading Babel by R.F. Kuang right now—fascinating. And the horror book Jackal by Erin E. Adams is next in line. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, by Mariana Enriquez, a collection of short stories, is already disturbing the hell out of me—in a good way. One of the biggest reasons why I went on TikTok in the first place is to find new fantasy/fairy tale/horror books by nonwhite authors. I’m so glad I did.


All you have to do is download the TikTok app, create an account (you can be totally private), and start searching for BookTokkers. It’s a lot of fun, so give it a whirl.


Yours in Enchantment,

Kate


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