The Panther Knows Best: BookTok Recommendations: What’s Worth The Read And What Should Stay On The Shelf


Amy-Grace Shapiro, Multimedia Photo Editor

Readers should take BookTok recommendations with a grain of salt. Do not get distracted by the pretty covers and intriguing descriptions or blurbs. When selecting a book, a reader should always rely on their own personal preference, not what is widely popular on one platform.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

While I personally can not get past the introduction, other readers enjoy this novel, as they find it relatable and thorough. However, this story plays into harmful stereotypes. The author portrays Park, an Asian male living in a small town in Nebraska during the 1980s, as a protagonist often fetishized due to his Korean descent. While Rowell makes a valid attempt to represent a minority group, she does it in a questionable way. This book was divisive, with some readers really enjoying this book and others believing it is not worth the time. 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars follows the lead character, Cadence Sinclair, along with her group of friends. She comes from old money, with a flawless image to uphold. The Sinclairs own a private island off the coast of Massachusetts, where all the descending families come together every year for summer vacation. However, devastation strikes when Cadence and her friends, also known as “the liars,” get in an accident. The rest of the storyline follows Cadence as she tries to remember what happened after that summer. Many people find this book a very entertaining yet tragic read, but I think the ending seems as though it was trying to make me miserable. On BookTok, reviewers hold this book in very high esteem, but in all honesty, I find it mediocre. 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

This book acts as a hit or miss. While some rave about the characters, plot and general story line, others feel the story lacks that creative element. They Both Die at the End takes place in New York City in a society where, every day, a new round of people receive a call from an organization, “Death Cast,” informing them of their imminent death in the next 24 hours. Main characters, Rufus and Mateo, experience their “last day” together while embarking on new adventures. The ending takes a rather lack-luster turn that makes readers want to throw their books across the room. Personally, I enjoyed this book,; however, it does not deserve the high praise. BookTok praises the book too highly, causing readers, including myself, to appreciate the writing less. Although the title completely gives away the plot of the book, the ending does not make up for the climactic structure. 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Readers, including myself, admire how the narrative Red Queen combines two genres, fantasy and dystopia. The story follows a society divided by the color of one’s blood, silver blood against red. The “silver elites” possess supernatural powers, while the “common reds” must tolerate subpar conditions and the silver nobilities’ cruel treatment. A perfect book for an audience who appreciates a fast-paced read with constant obstacles in the path of the protagonist, Red Queen contains many different components to keep readers on their feet and wanting more. However, many who read this story feel betrayed by the ending, as it takes a sudden twist that changes the whole course of the plot line. 

While novel-type books typically do not interest me, I thoroughly enjoyed several poetry recommendations I received from TikTok. I tend to gravitate towards poetry collections encompassed in a single book, as I feel more emotionally attached.

I Would Leave Me If I Could by Halsey

The well-known American singer Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, better known as Halsey, released her collection of poems in Nov. 2020 entitled I Would Leave Me If I Could. Throughout Halsey’s collection of 132 poems, she explains topics ranging from bad dates to pregnancy scares, with engaging verses meant to attract a young adult crowd. The author dives deeply into the stanzas to really convey her message and pull people in. By the end of the book, I had no more tears left to cry, as her pages were so emotionally captivating. Without a doubt, this compilation sits in my top five of best poetry books.

Aphrodite Made Me Do It bt Trista Mateer

On TikTok, reviewers often refer to this collection as “therapy in a book” as a direct reflection of the magical, self-care-infused pages. On top of very empowering, feminist content conveyed through mystical stanzas, the book also includes full-color artwork to further tell the story. This take on the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, allows the reader to indulge in writings encouraging self love that then leads to unconditional affection. 

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back by Alicia Cook

Poet Alicia Cook applies a unique twist to a traditional poetry compilation. This book represents a mixtape dedicated to those who struggle with mental health. “Side A” includes “the poems” written in standard format. At the end of each poem, the author recommends a song that she felt reflects the lines, further giving the illusion of a mixtape. “Side B,” however, contains “the remixes,” or black-out poetry versions of the previous poems contained in “Side A.” Cook uses this technique to emphasize certain elements of each poem that readers may not have initially noticed.