The most popular #BookTok books in every state

TikTok’s book community “#BookTok” was recently referred to by The New York Times as a “best seller machine.” In this community, creators post literary content to the app, ranging from book recommendations to their emotional reactions during pivotal plot points. 

This content has catapulted sales for a select few books, and major book retailers such as Barnes & Noble are recognizing the community’s power.

These days, it takes one viral TikTok for a book to become a bestseller. #BookTok reaches readers across the world, and a nation’s most popular books can tell us a lot about its language and culture. So which books are actually selling, and what do they have in common? 

Using Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Google search interest data, we conducted an analysis of the titles rising in popularity due to TikTok. Our report ranks the most popular books and authors, determines which are favored in each state, and even highlights the older books making a comeback due to TikTok. 

Key findings

The most popular #BookTok books and authors

For BookTok community members, reading is all about finding stories that captivate their audience’s emotions – particularly their sense of romance. The top-five best-selling books due to TikTok are nearly all romances, and two of them share the same author.

The five most popular #BookTok books are:

  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (romance)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (romance)
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (romance)
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (romance)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (young adult)

#BookTok has popularized the romance genre with Gen Z readers. Romance tropes such as “enemies to lovers” and “fake dating” allow readers to enjoy fun, lighthearted stories with satisfying emotional endings across many different books with unique characters. 

In fact, of the top 55 books analyzed, 24 were in the romance genre, according to Goodreads classifications. Fantasy books took up 12 slots, with young adult (8), thriller (6), and historical fiction (4) genres following.

With two books in the top three slots, Colleen Hoover is the standout author on #BookTok. Her titles Verity and It Starts With Us are also in the top 25 #BookTok books. A romance author with one thriller title (Verity), Hoover is active on TikTok and Instagram, engaging with the community with her humorous personality. She clearly has a strong sense of what’s popular in online reading communities. 

Jennifer L. Armentrout also has four titles gaining significant traction on TikTok. A prolific fantasy and romance writer, books from her Blood and Ash, Harbinger and Dark Elements series have each been heavily promoted by the #BookTok community. 

Other popular #BookTok authors include Alice Oseman, Casey McQuiston, Elle Kennedy and Emily Henry, each with three books on the top #BookTok book list.

The most popular #BookTok books by state

A nation’s most popular books can tell us a lot about its culture, and the same is true for individual states. We analyzed the list of over 170 popular #BookTok books using local search data to determine the most popular #BookTok bestseller in every state and created a map to display each state’s favorite title.

With 41 books represented, there are a wide variety of popular books in the U.S. right now, thanks to TikTok. The books most popular on a state-by-state level include:

  • Ugly Love (4 states)
  • Book of Night (3 states)
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (2 states)
  • One Last Stop (2 states)
  • The Spanish Love Deception (2 states)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (2 states)
  • Written in the Stars (2 states)

The books making a comeback thanks to #BookTok

Finally, some books published well over a decade ago are seeing a resurgence in popularity thanks to TikTok. We removed books that have movie adaptations or are part of popular franchises such as Twilight or The Hunger Games

Here are the lesser-known titles that #BookTok is giving a comeback:

  • I Am Number Four (published 2009)
  • Anna and the French Kiss (published 2010)
  • The Song of Achilles (published 2011)
  • Throne of Glass (published 2012)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (published 2012)

Conclusion

Books open up our worlds and minds. Simple stories that follow traditional narrative arcs can also be effective language learning tools. Whether your recommendation comes from #BookTok or The New York Times, discover a new title and learn about a different culture, place, or time. 

Methodology: Using a list of 170+ popular #BookTok titles compiled by Barnes & Noble, we used Google search data to conduct this analysis. Genre data compiled using Goodreads.

Muse of Nightmares: Second in the Epic Fantasy Series Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer, the epic fantasy series written by Laini Taylor, began as a dream. Now Taylor, a National Book Award finalist, has just released Muse of Nightmares  (Little, Brown 2018; $19.99), the second book in the series.Laini Taylor_Author Photo_AliSmith credit

“The story has been in my mind for 20 years or more,” says Taylor, whose author photo shows her with a shock of long seriously pink hair.  “I think I dreamed Sairi, the character that came to me, who lived high above the city and I thought of her as the Muse of Nightmares. I started writing about her for my first book but then that became Lazio’s book.  But this is about Sairi, the way trauma changes us and if it is possible for a person to overcome this. Sarai doesn’t know what she’s capable of and she feels helpless, but is she?”

The journey of Sairi and Lazio is one of intrigue and mysteries (what was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? where did the gods come from, and why? and  how do they defeat a new foe?) and it’s interesting to note that as we follow Taylor’s story-telling, we often are only a few steps behind her as the story plot evolves. That’s because as much as she wants to shape her story, it often, as she builds her characters and scenes in her mind, takes on a will of its own.

Taylor says she always hopes to get to the ending she has in mind.

“But it doesn’t always work that way,” she says.

Immersed and—dare we say—co-dependent–with her characters, Taylor is sad when they make a bad choice though she can understand why they did so.

“It just give me so much empathy for them,” Taylor says.  “I ask what causes people to do that. When my characters don’t survive, I really wish I could save them, but I can’t.”

But though she doesn’t often know how her books will end or save a character, she did know that she wanted to eschew the typical epic ending of a massive battle between good and evil and instead resolve it by asking and answering a powerful question “must heroes always slay monsters or is it possible to save them?”

Ifyougo:

What:

When: Thursday, October 11 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 West Jefferson Avenue Naperville, IL

Cost: Free and open to the public. To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, Muse of Nightmares, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville (630) 355-2665.

FYI: (630) 355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com

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