TikTok is banned in India, for whatever reason and because of this, we’re missing out on a lot of content – BookTok especially. However, I’ve also been seeing everywhere (on book Twitter especially) the discourse that BookTok can be really limiting in some ways, in the sense that they either recommend the same books over and over again or that some of the books coming out as recommendations are toxic AF and are being glorified unnecessarily while turning a blind eye to the toxicity. While I think the first isn’t that bad, it was the second that caught my eye, because there were a couple of books that I was really looking forward to on that list. So I thought, ‘Okay, we might not have BookTok in India, but we have the books, so why not make a video out of it?’
As a result I decided to read 6 of the most popular romance books BookTok kept hyping up in a bid to decide whether or not they were worth the hype for me. And I made a vlog out of it. Here’s the link if you’d like to watch it: Reading Popular BookTok Romances.
I never paid extra attention to the term ‘overhyped’ before and used it quite liberally myself. But I realized that it has a very condescending connotation to it after I came across someone pointing this out: “If a majority of the readers loved the book and you didn’t, why does it mean that they were lying? After all, everyone has different tastes, don’t they?” That’s all I’ll say about it right now, but I will do a full blog post and/or video about it soon, hopefully.
My point is: I ended up reading popular BookTok romances in a bid to find out which I liked and which I didn’t and the results were quite interesting. I ended up disliking one of these books and completely hating another, so that’s something I guess. 😛
Anyway, here are the 6 books (in no particular order) that I read for the video, which I thought I’d summarize here as well. I’ve also spoken about them in my May & June 2022 wrap up and July 2022 wrap up.
You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
Going into this book, my impression of Emily Henry’s writing wasn’t really favorable. I’d read Beach Read before and thought that her writing, her characters, and her plots were rather vanilla. This book reinforced it for me.
Don’t get me wrong, best friends to lovers is one of my favorite romances tropes to ever exist. But the chemistry between the main characters felt rather forced to me. With them hopping around on vacations (the female lead is a travel writer) and the back and forth in narration timelines as they try to figure out their relationship, it sort of muddled everything up for me and I ended coming away unimpressed, as if whatever happened to them didn’t matter to me. And that’s sad because I want to keep my head wrapped around a book for a bit longer. As much as I complain (do I, though?) about book hangovers, I love that I get so obsessed with them. This book didn’t give me that, which is why I’m rather disappointed. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, though. It just didn’t work whatever magic it worked on others on me.
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Listen. This book is full of the following:
- “Oh, his eyes are so blue, so ocean blue, so sea blue, so sky blue, so lake blue, so kitchen sink blue!”
- “I suddenly remember that this is all fake.”
- “He was so impossibly tall and wide and solid.” – What, you expected him to be liquid? And what’s the fixation on tall and wide? Good Lord!
- Catalina’s friggin obliviousness. Every time Aaron does something nice, Catalina has to be like: “This is fake because I remember his rebuffing my friendly gesture 18 months ago and he can’t like me.” OPEN. YOUR. EYES.
Anyway, the point of the book is an enemies to lovers trope where Catalina Martin and Aaron Blackford, who are sworn enemies working in the same office, end up going to Catalina’s sister’s wedding together because Catalina couldn’t find a date and you know what a shame it would be to not have a significant other in your life! To avoid being seen as a failure, Catalina wants a fake boyfriend to take and Aaron offers himself. She doesn’t stop to think about why and just rolls with it. With each page turned, it gets more and more annoying by the number of times we’re forced to read about his blue eyes, their height difference, his solidness, and the fakeness of their ‘relationship.’ Please…
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazlewood
With this, I finally landed on a romance book that made me feel all warm and tingly, as romance books are supposed to make one feel! Still, it will be a while before another episode of reading popular BookTok romances comes along, so for now, here’s what I thought about it (an excerpt from my July 2022 reading wrap up):
Olive Smith is a third year PhD candidate who doesn’t believe in relationships. But to convince her best friend that she is in a loving relationship (because said best friend has a crush on a guy that Olive went on two dates with and is insistent that she won’t make a move because of the best friend code), Olive kisses the first man she comes across in the college hallway. Unfortunately, this man is Adam Carlsen, the handsome young professor known for being a tyrant to his students. But Carlsen surprisingly agrees to keep up the charade. What lies on the road that Olive and Adam have started upon forms the entire story.
I felt warmth as I read this book, although the age difference because of their student-professor relationship, and that fact that Olive grabbed a random man in the university hall and kissed him, made me feel a little icky. I don’t know what the workaround is for this, but it’s a well-written story on the whole.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
If you want to do an enemies to lovers trope, do it THIS way. There’s the hate on the surface, the simmering attraction, the slow turn of the wheels, the gradual realizations – you get my point!
This is the story of Lucy and Joshua, two assistants who are at constant loggerheads with each other because their bosses are enemies. They play mind games with each other from across the room, working to pull the other down at every opportunity they get. This competition and rivalry takes on a whole new level when a new position opens up and they are now both in the running. Who will end up taking the top spot and who will get to boss over the other? And to what extent will they go to get this position?
I see why people are crazy about this. It’s steamy, it’s a well-written enemies to lovers romance, it has character development, it has mistakes made, it has mistakes amended – the whole cornucopia. The best part was Lucy standing up for herself and giving Joshua an earful whenever he crossed a line and insulted her during their savage banters. The not-so-great part, for me, was the story ending so abruptly. Come on, tell me a little bit more about what happened! But no. We’re way past that at this point.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Lesson learnt from this book: you can hate a book that’s been written by an author you’ve previously loved a book by. It Ends With Us is proof.
It Ends With Us is the story of Lily and Ryle, who meet on a rooftop on the night of her father’s funeral. Ryle, being the ass that he is, tells her right off the bat that he wants to sleep with her in the crassest way possible. As the story progresses and Ryle turns up at her doorstep with an increasingly creepy frequency, Lily begins to fall for him as well. It would probably have been fine (uhhhmm) at this point if there was any chemistry in this weird relationship, but zilch. Nada. Mmhmm. Nothing. It spirals into an abyss as Ryle’s toxic nature emerges and Lily’s toxicity becomes evident too in the way she talks about victims who walk away from abusive marriages as not being ‘strong enough’ and that they were ‘giving up on love’. The condescending nature of her thoughts and beliefs undermines what the author was probably trying to say.
Here’s a quote that Ryle has the audacity to say when they first met on the rooftop:
There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.
That make you feel better? That make you feel like a good person? From where I’m standing this is just excuses for crap behavior. Ooooooof. I need to take a deep breath or 2874430348.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
I ended this vlog with a bang and with the author I started it with. I read Book Lovers by Emily Henry and I swear to God, I wasn’t expecting to love this book so much! What a lovely book this is!
Nora Stephens is a literary agent known as The Shark for her ruthlessness. She is a career woman and a workaholic and loves the city life. She is on her way to meet Charlie Lastra, an equally well-known, ruthless editor, when she gets dumped over the phone. Her personal life has now turned into the trope where the guy goes to a small town on work and ends up dumping her because he falls in love with a small town girl. And henceforth the saga continues.
Two years later, her sister, Libby, now pregnant with her third child, takes her to Sunshine Falls, a small village. Nora, a city girl through and through, is skeptical about this whole plan, but she is willing to do anything for her sister, as she has looked after her for most of her life, and agrees. But here, she bumps into Charlie Lastra, who as she knows him, is a city guy himself. Is Nora’s life about to turn into one of those small town romances she has so come to despise? What is she about to find out about herself?
I love this book because nothing seems contrived in here. It doesn’t preach that small town/village life is better than city life. It just says, ‘to each, their own’ and gets on with it. It focuses on family as much as it focuses on the romance, and I think that’s beautiful, because when there were emotional exchanges between Libby and Nora, I bawled. Yes, I do feel like smacking Libby at times for some things she’s done, but she also makes a lot of sense at other times. Basically this book filled me with warmth and I just love it so much! It’s like one of those Hallmark Christmas movies sans the Christmas and with a whole lot of extra meaning and love to it!
So those were the books that I read as part of my ‘Reading Popular BookTok Romances’ experiment. As you’ve seen, some worked, some didn’t, some I HATED. It’s only understandable because these were my opinions and it’s common knowledge that not everyone likes the same kinds of books. I hate that I have to keep saying this every time I say I disliked a book, but okay. What’s to be done has got to be done. 😛
If you’d like to watch my reactions instead, here’s the link to the full vlog that went up on my channel a while ago: Reading Popular BookTok Romances.
Which of these books have you read? Which ones did you like? Which ones did you not like? Which do you want to read? Which others do you think I should pick up? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life. 😊