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If you’ve ever stumbled across the bibliophile side of TikTok, you most likely watched white content creators flash the same five books written by white authors across their screen. Tired of Sarah J. Maas’ “Throne of Glass” and other white YA fantasy books riddled with clichés? Read on for a list of BookTok accounts and books by POC authors you need to check out.
While the algorithm is in part to blame for showcasing videos featuring the same popular books on your FYP, many TikTok users fail to seek out diverse reads. These popular books, often referred to as “TikTok books” because the community frequently recommends them, often follow white cishet main characters. In many cases, they include racist tropes or completely leave out POC characters. The exclusivity within BookTok is most pervasive in regards to race. White TikTokers have exponentially more interaction with their videos than POC TikTokers, even if the content and its quality may as well be identical.
Even when recommending books featuring POC characters and societies, like N.K. Jemison’s “The Fifth Season” or Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Black Sun,” white content creators garner more interaction, specifically positive interaction, than POC content creators. Many POC TikTokers receive hate for their content, especially when they speak on issues of racial inequity. A variety of factors play into the interaction gaps, including algorithm bias and user racism. POC bookworms looking for more diversity – check out our list of POC books to read and POC BookTok accounts to follow.
POC books to read
“Honey Girl” – Morgan Rogers
Possibly the most popular POC book at the moment, “Honey Girl” has Black and gay representation. Read this if you’re a woman in your late 20s who’s always had a plan for your life, but that plan isn’t going how you imagined. Are you a disappointment to your parents? Read this book. Do you crave lesbian content? Buy this book right now.
“Black Sun” – Rebecca Roanhorse
Roanhorse creates a world influenced by Pre-Colombian societies in her epic fantasy novel “Black Sun.” If you love N.K. Jamison books, you won’t be able to put down “Black Sun.” Lovers of beautiful book covers, you’ll drool over the bold gold letters and stunning art.
“The Jasmine Throne” – Tasha Suri
Siri’s new trilogy inspired by India’s history and legends tells the story of an imprisoned princess and maidservant who harbors taboo powers as a mutual goal throws them together. They must save their empire from the princess’s treasonous brother who casts a shadow over all with his dictatorship. Read of LGBT+ and South Asian representation.
“Flame in the Mist” – Renée Ahdieh
Bred to make an advantageous marriage, Mariko yearns to be valued for her talents and not her ability to procure a husband. She’s a witty and accomplished alchemist, but she’s not a boy like her twin brother. On her way to meet her betrothed at the imperial palace, her party is set upon by a group of bandits hired to assassinate Mariko. She alone escapes with her life. Mariko dresses as a boy to infiltrate the ranks of the bandits, known as the Black Clan, and seek her revenge, but only among this clan has she ever felt seen.
“Girl, Woman, Other” – Bernadine Evaristo
If you loved Brit Bennet’s “The Vanishing Half,” you’ll love Evaristo’s contemporary fiction that follows a group of womxn and their intertwined lives. Read for fascinating characters, including a queer Black playwright and a 93-year-old living on a farm in Northern England. This book was also the joint winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2019.
POC BookTok accounts to follow
No one could accuse Aliyah of lackluster content. Every video she films screams drama and joy, especially when it comes to Leigh Bardugo’s books. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone on BookTok who dislikes the “Six of Crows” duology, especially given the two POC characters, Inej and Jesper, who both steal your attention on the page.
Check out this account for amazing book recommendations by South Asian authors featuring South Asian characters. She speaks out on issues pertaining to race, especially in the book world.
Most @azantareads followers joined for Muslim book content. Check out her hijab story, her stellar book recommendations and some fun unboxing books videos.
If you think canceling J.K. Rowling is an overreaction, watch @sarinagov’s video on cancel culture versus holding authors accountable for discrimination. Sarina speaks on many other contemporary issues in the book world, including how book to screen adaptations portray POC characters. If you haven’t yet heard of Amita Suman’s stunt double controversy, start there.
Oriana Peñaranda owns an online independent bookstore called Xolo Books dedicated to promoting BIPOC authors and books. Check out her TikTok account for Latinx book content. While most BookTok accounts offer fluffy books recommendations, Oriana goes in depth and doesn’t shy away from books outside of Young Adult.
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