Dawg-Eared: BookTok — buy it or try it?

The ‘As seen on #BookTok’ section of Barnes and Noble gets bigger with every visit. This section features popular authors like Elle Kennedy, Christina Lauren and Hannah Grace. Photo by Elle Rotter

ELLE ROTTER | STAFF REPORTER | earotter@butler.edu 

“Dawg-Eared” is a book review column that covers books that Bulldogs have requested including popular series, books that have been adapted for the screen and niche books that keep Dawgs turning the pages

There are many ways to find new books, but one of the most popular ways is on BookTok. Creators on social media apps like TikTok and Instagram are letting readers know their favorite books and creating worldwide internet communities for fans. 

Now, bookstores like Barnes and Noble create entire displays for books recommended on BookTok. Because of this increase in popularity, readers are waiting for long holds at their library or are forced to buy the book in order to read it. 

The high demand and long wait times often make some readers wonder if all of these books are worth their praise. Some people love them, and some hate them, but all books are worth a shot. Here is a list of books that Butler students recommend buying, and others that might not be worth it but are still worth trying to check out from the library. 


Better Than The Movies” by Lynn Painter 

Content warnings: alcohol consumption, smoking, grief, death, death of a family member and car accident

The next-door neighbor is always the love interest … right? Liz Buzbaum, a senior in high school, disagrees. Her neighbor, and best friend, Wes Bennett plays the role of wingman as Liz tries to land a prom date with Michael, her childhood crush. 

Michael moved out of town seven years ago, but when he returns home, her infatuation with the other boy next door comes flooding back. As Liz navigates her last year of high school, she discovers that life does not always go as planned. This lighthearted and emotional coming-of-age story is a slow-burn romance that references various classic rom-com tropes and films along the way. 

First-year elementary education major Hannah Gelinas loved that the author included references to other rom-coms because it added to her enjoyment of the book.

“I think it was super lighthearted and uplifting,” Gelinas said. “It is a really cute one if you just want to have a good time reading a book.” 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson 

Content warnings: Racism, sexual assault, statutory rape, student-teacher relationship, suicide, disordered eating mentioned, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, nonconsensual drug use, murder, car accident, kidnapping, blackmail and animal death

Holly Jackson’s debut novel “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” and the rest of the series have sold over 2 million copies in the United States alone. This award-winning mystery series brings its readers along through tragedy, heartbreak and triumph while winning varied awards from British Book Award for Children’s Fiction Book of the Year, to the ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Everyone knows that Sal Singh killed his girlfriend Andie Bell and then killed himself. At least, that is what everyone believes. Five years later, high school senior Pip Fitz-Amobi still has suspicions about the outcomes of the case, so she decides to personally investigate the case for her senior capstone project. In the beginning, her goal is to just create doubt surrounding the case. However, she ends up uncovering the truth and as she inches toward proving Sal’s innocence, someone in her small town starts anonymously threatening her. Now her life may be in danger too. 

Gelinas claimed this mystery was better than others she had read before because of the thrill and adrenaline that kept her reading non-stop. 

“It’s a good, easy mystery to get into; it definitely kept me on my toes the whole time,” Gelinas said. “I feel like in other mysteries you kind of feel distracted and you forget the little things that happen but this one you felt like you were in the story with her while going through the mystery.” 

Love and Other Words” by Christina Lauren 

Content warnings: rape, sexual content, cheating, death, death of a family member and grief

Fellow bookworms Elliot and Macy have been friends for as long as they can remember, until one night when the unspeakable happens. As an adult, Macy later bumps into Elliot and fails to hold up the wall she has carefully crafted to protect herself from the world that has repetitively wounded her. The two work to rekindle their friendship and fight through the battlefield of emotions between them. 

Switching between her past and the problem at hand, readers walk alongside Macy as she navigates how to regain love while also remembering all of the beautiful memories she and Elliot shared that are so painful to reflect upon now. Even after a decade of distance, they know each other better than anyone else in the world, but can they make it through the mistakes of the past? 

Although Gelinas struggled to grasp Elliot’s perspective in the book, she said that this book is among her favorites because of its positive message and the way it affected her. 

“I think it is impactful to society by showing how [important] your life is and how much you need to treasure it,” Gelinas said. “It just shows enjoyment of [life] and how to live in the moment. You need to build relationships and have good friendships with others.” 

Icebreaker” by Hannah Grace 

Content warnings: Disordered eating, sexual content, toxic friendships, mental health, near death experience, alcohol use and explicit language

Anastasia “Stassie” Allen, a competitive figure skater, has never faced a challenge she could not handle, and neither has hockey player Nathan Hawkins. But, when they become each other’s problems, they are forced to work together to continue their passions. 

Problems arise when the two teams are forced to share the same ice rink. The intrusion of space and overlapping practices frustrate Stassie to no end; but when her skating partner gets hurt and Nate takes the blame for it, their coaches agree to pair the two up. Nate is forced to trade in his hockey stick for tights and a leotard — and while Stassie is not happy about the situation either, she is amused at the sight of the attractive hockey player in spandex. 

The only question left is, will their newfound partnership and forced proximity turn into something more? Stassie does not think of Nate as anything more than a temporary partner, but Nate, who falls head over heels for her, tries to pry through her ice-cold heart. 

Catey Kelso, a first-year psychology and health sciences double major, is also an avid romance reader. Among all of the romance books she has read, she said this was one of her favorites. One reason why Kelso adores this book is because Anastasia is a relatable female character who is hardworking and determined, but also struggles with body image and self-confidence. 

“I loved the interaction between the main character[s], and how their relationship developed over time, how he was so endlessly and helplessly in love with her from the beginning, [from] the moment they met,” Kelso said. “I liked seeing that and [watching] him fall more in love with her. I love the ‘he falls first and harder’ trope; it’s one of my favorites. I think we all deserve a Nathan.” 


The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller 

Content warnings: Slavery, human trafficking, rape, child abuse and neglect, self harm, murder, torture, kidnapping and military violence

“The Song of Achilles” retells the “The Iliad” by Homer, an ancient Greek poet. The infamous epic is known for its telling of the Trojan War and the conflict between an alliance of Greek cities. In “The Song of Achilles,” readers see the story from Patroclus’s perspective instead of Achilles’s, as told in the original tale. 

Patroclus grows up as an outcast within his kingdom and a disappointment to his parents. He is eventually exiled from his kingdom and is forced to leave home when he meets Achilles whom he befriends, and eventually falls in love with. But everything changes when Achilles is called to war. 

Sophomore biology major Lily Upadhyay enjoyed the book but is interested in how others feel about the LGBTQ+ take on the classic myth. 

“I think that [the LGBTQ+ perspective] would probably be controversial to a lot of people,” Upadhyay said. “But I think it’s very well written, and it adds to how interesting the book really was.” 

Although it may be controversial and harder to read, this book is a unique take on the historical fiction genre and Greek mythology. It may not be right for all readers, but it is worth trying. 

The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig 

Content warnings: Depression, alcoholism, panic attacks, suicide and suicidal ideation, mentions of self-harm and death

What happens when we die? Does anyone really know? Nora Seed discovers the truth when she attempts suicide and finds herself in a space between life and death. The spirit of her elementary school librarian guides her through the afterlife when Nora finds herself in the midnight library. The library is full of books. However, these are not regular books; instead, they are different versions of who she has become. The books change one simple variable of herself, a family member, or an event in her life, but they all have meaningful consequences. 

She is encouraged to pick up a book, start reading, and jump into a world that she could have once lived in. The goal is to find a life that she would be content with, and live in it for the rest of her life. But these new lives are not what she expected them to be; she finds out that no matter what life she lives, she will face heartbreak, grief and misfortune. 

Gelinas said that she was on the fence about this book because of the different time and setting jumps; however, she also thought that this book became popular for those same reasons.

“I think it is popular because it is different from other books,” Gelinas said. “I have never read anything like it because you’re able to see her life in [multiple] different worlds. It also has a lot of different life lessons, and it shows you how important your choices are. [Nora] is just reflecting on the problems she’s experienced instead of accepting them and altering her life from them. She struggles to move on, and I think that is what society is struggling with too.” 

In the end, all of these books are worth giving a try. Some are harder to read than others, and some are controversial. But, if a book seems interesting, it is always worth the shot. The increasing virality of BookTok has contributed to many positive changes in society including the reemergence of reading physical books — or even just reading in general.


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