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Should You Trust Social Media Book Recommendations?

Do people on social media have good taste?

illustration of a phone with TikTok, Instagram and YouTube icons presenting thumbs up and an open book next to it with two thumbs down on the pages.
Social media recommendations are being put to the test. Illustration by Libby King

Book-related videos started making their rounds of different social media apps and book influencers are rising in fame. Novels are only set to go viral, but can we trust those trending recommendations

Booktok, Bookstagram, and Booktube are trending with book influencers making their way to mainstream media.

Due to their large and growing following, one recommendation can go a long way, skyrocketing a book’s popularity and sales.

Young Adult books

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Description

Five students walk into detention and only four walk out.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Goodreads

3.94/5 – Goodreads.

5/5 from me.

It’s been five years since reading One of Us Is Lying, one of the first books I read when I was getting back into novels. I remember fidgeting around in my bed as I rushed to finish this addicting book. I loved the four main characters, the mystery, and most importantly, the romance between two of the characters. 

Considered an OG BookTok book, One of Us Is Lying has spent five years on the New York Times Best Seller List.

An article written by Kirkus Reviews explains the twisted The Breakfast Club vibe Karen M. McManus brought to the novel.

Although the language and plot sometimes border on cliché, this fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic John Hughes will leave readers racing to the finish as they try to unravel the mystery on their own.

Kirkus Reviews

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Description

After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.

Goodreads

4.23/5 – Goodreads.

5/5 from me.

I hadn’t heard of this novel at all until receiving it in a subscription box. A few weeks after its release, it gained well-deserved popularity.

The enemies-to-lovers romance story between Iris and Roman was to die for. Along with their jobs at the paper, the war, and familial issues and drama, it was the perfect mix of everything. It was easy to fall in love with the book and its characters.

In Publishers Weekly’s review, they said Rebecca Ross’s prose was “dreamy and atmospherically tense,” dubbing the book an “ardent romance and a harrowing exploration of war’s horrors and heartbreaks.”

Winning the 2023 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy, Divine Rivals has made a place for itself on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Powerless by Lauren Roberts

Description

When Paeydn unsuspectingly saves one of Ilyas princes, she finds herself thrown into the Purging Trials. The brutal competition exists to showcase the Elites’ powers—the very thing Paedyn lacks. If the Trials and the opponents within them don’t kill her, the prince she’s fighting feelings for certainly will if he discovers what she is—completely Ordinary.

Goodreads

4.29/5 – Goodreads.

3/5 from me.

The book’s author was a BookTok-er who’d filmed her journey from writing and self-publishing to getting picked up by a traditional publisher.

This book took the internet by storm even before getting traditionally published. Readers loved the romance, angst, and the action. 

This wasn’t my favorite social media book recommendation. Being described as The Hunger Games meets Red Queen has given it mass popularity and the attention of many people, including myself.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Will I read the sequel? Probably not.

A Kirkus Reviews review mentioned the book’s “illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations,” explaining they couldn’t be “erased by any amount of romantic banter.”

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

Kirkus Reviews

Adult books

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Description

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

Goodreads

4.59/5 – Goodreads.

5/5 from me.

I’d like to think that almost everyone has heard about this book because of social media. Fourth Wing not only took the book-related platforms by storm but also the entire internet. Everyone was reading this book and everyone was raving about it.

I understand why.

Yarros created a compelling world, especially with such high stakes on the line. With the enemies-to-lovers romance, the fighting to survive, and of course the dragons, it was all so great.

A review from Berkeley Fiction Review explained the way the high fantasy novel pulls in readers and grips them with themes of romance.

The plot is addicting, and each brush with death pulls you a little deeper into a magical world. A world where both dragons and hot dragon riders are real and can communicate telepathically.

Berkeley Fiction Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Description

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.

At least, he’s not a beast all the time.

As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Goodreads

4.20/5 – from Goodreads.

4/5 from me.

The classic romantic fantasy that took over social media. One of the most popular fantasy novels written by one of the most popular fantasy authors. To be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I love the whole series. The book took me a while to read and longer to pick up the sequels, but I’m so glad I did. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a series that only gets better. Sarah J. Maas is also starting to connect her series, which is even more reason to pick up her books. 

The Guardian wrote a review of the book when it first came out in 2015. The writer, HannahLoveBook, had a similar thought to the book as I did.

I initially thought this novel was quite slow, and almost gave up by page 50, but there was still a spark igniting my interest in the plot. The pace increased gradually, creating a tantalising story of great interest and passion. I honestly could not put it down!

HannahLoveBook, The Guardian

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Description

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Goodreads

4.42/5 – from Goodreads.

5/5 from me.

Another classic. This was probably the first literary fiction novel I read. It was such an interesting story about the life of a Hollywood star, the ups and downs and everything in between.

In my opinion, this book shows that there are many different types of relationships one can have, ranging from romantic to platonic. I distinctly remember this novel having so many quotable lines that make an impact.  

This is a story that needs to be told and a lesson everyone needs to hear. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has amassed a large following for its main protagonist: Evelyn Hugo. The Indiependent gave credit to the titular character for the novel’s success.

The most striking thing about this book is how real Evelyn Hugo feels to the reader. As a character, she is immaculately fleshed out and developed without a single gap or fault, with very human feelings and thoughts that are often not addressed fully in other books.

Sam Hewitson, The Indiependant

Can we trust the recs?

You never know what you’re going to read. Credit: Shutterstock/Prapass

From the info gathered by judging books in this article, it’s safe to say we can sometimes trust book influencers.

So, the truth is that reading is subjective. 

Just because I enjoy a book, doesn’t necessarily mean you will too and vice versa. We’re all allowed to have our own opinions – some people might agree with you and some might not.

That truly is the beauty of social media. Social media is a place where people are allowed to share what they love or don’t with the world. It’s a place to find a community with people of similar interests.

So, when it comes to book recommendations, they’re just suggestions from one person to another. The important part is reading what interests you.

While I enjoyed all the books listed above, some more than others, I would say that if a book interests you, give it a try.

There’s no rule saying that you must enjoy it because the majority of the internet does. At the end of the day, reading is all about having fun and going on new adventures.

Written By

Hi! My name is Madison Kim and I write for the Life Section for Trill Mag. I am currently a student studying English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

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