The Publishing Post
LGBTQ+ BookTok: Viral Inclusivity
By Becca Binnie and Lauren Dooley
The social media platform TikTok has taken the internet by storm. With over one billion annual users, Tiktok has given a voice to so many around the world. A particularly popular strand of TikTok is BookTok, a place for book lovers to talk about and recommend their favourite reads. Many use TikTok to promote and discuss LGBTQ+ literature, with the majority of recommended titles falling into the YA or fantasy genre. BookTok provides a huge platform for LGBTQ+ creators and helps promote amazing LGBTQ+ books and authors. It has dramatically influenced the book market, with many top bookstores promoting the “Books of Booktok” on display tables. Without further ado, let’s dive into some popular LGBTQ+ books recommended through BookTok.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
One such LGBTQ+ novel that has populated BookTok is Casey McQuinston’s bestselling book, Red, White & Royal Blue. Promised to be a tearjerker by BookTokers, this story follows the queer romance between the Prince of Wales and the son of the United States President. When a confrontation between these two elites unfolds in front of cameras, damage control ensues, forcing the two men into a friendship. Soon feelings flourish and this staged friendship progresses in secret, as both are afraid of the consequences of their relationships for their individual nations. Not your typical enemies to lovers, but this book will definitely satisfy those looking for frenemies to lovers with a romantic, LGBTQ+ twist.
This fantastic debut became the Winner of Goodreads' 2019 Choice Award for Romance and the ALA Alex Award of 2019. Almost every BookToker lists this as a favourite LGBTQ+ recommendation and urges their viewers to read this witty, heart-warming tale of two lovers trying to navigate their way in the world as gay and bisexual men. This is marketed as a ‘must-read’ for fans of romance. The representation throughout this book is amazing. The first-family is biracial, with an openly trans Secret Service Agent, all alongside the gay and bisexual protagonists. This book is a celebration of identity and a true case of inclusivity.
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Numerous BookTokers recommend Kalynn Bayron’s LGBTQ+ retelling of the timeless classic, Cinderella. The exciting YA fantasy novel follows sixteen-year-old Sophie as she battles archaic traditions. Sophie would rather marry childhood friend Erin than be paraded in front of and judged by the men of the kingdom. Learning from the last known descendant of Cinderella, Sophie goes about attempting to take down the king – defying social constructs whilst she's at it.
This inspiring and refreshing novel represents a BIPOC LGBTQ+ protagonist dismantling limits and expectations whilst fighting for and discovering love. No wonder it is highly recommended on TikTok. In 2020 the book won an Epic Reads Book Shimmy Award for ‘We Need Diverse Books.’ This empowering and creative retelling is well deserving of the hype it receives on TikTok and belongs on your TBR list!
Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta
This sci-fi fantasy queer retelling of well-known Arthurian legend has been coming up on my For You page quite often! This exciting YA novel follows Ari Helix, the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Ari meets teenage Merlin who has aged backwards over centuries. Together they fight to break the curse that keeps bringing Arthur back and dismantle the oppressive government.
Exciting and inspiring, this inclusive retelling is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The good news is that this book is only the first in a thrilling series. Ari and Merlin are back again in Sword in the Stars, where the two must confront the past to save the future. I for one am thrilled BookTok introduced me to such a gripping series.
There are so many more amazing and popular LGBTQ+ BookTok novels. Here are a few more of our favourites: The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller; The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Adam Silvera’s They Both Die At The End and the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman. All these books vary in genre and are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, they are all popular on TikTok and would make great additions to your bookshelves.
Noteworthy LGBTQ+ BookTokers
There are heaps of amazing LGBTQ+ BookTok creators on TikTok. A particular favourite of mine is @kati.reads.books. They recommend all kinds of LGBTQ+ page-turners from tearjerkers to graphic novels. This BookToker spreads positivity and inclusivity as they promote books celebrating trans, genderfluid and nonbinary communities to name just a few.
Another BookTok creator good at recommending perfect LBGTQ+ reads is @kevintnorman. They highlight their favourite LGBTQ+ reads to buy in different stores whilst also showing their audience their beautiful collection of special edition books. I’d definitely recommend checking out their account for some new recommendations and interesting book reviews.