Groups of reading enthusiasts on the internet (such as TikTok’s “BookTok”) have been responsible for some of the most interesting bookworm communities out there. There have been laughter, tears, outrage, and many community-wide fever dreams featured on these platforms. From Colleen Hoover to A Court of Thorns and Roses, to some frankly unhinged recommendations, BookTok has made many things go viral over the years, some of which were probably a huge mistake.
Speaking of unhinged, Unhinged by Vera Valentine was one of TikTok’s most viral flops of the year, and with that, one of the only books whose name directly gives away both its plot and its believability. The book follows the son of Zeus, a sentient door. The sentient door happens to be the front door to a young woman’s apartment. This young woman, Tana, is being stalked by her landlord, whose advances are as unwelcome as they are creepy. In the meantime, the door has started falling for her, and, using its powers, it begins visiting her in her dreams. Yes, those kinds of dreams. As her landlord becomes increasingly deranged, Tana must find a way to stay in her apartment with the door she has gotten to know through her nightly routine, without succumbing to her dangerous stalker. If the plot of this novel does not convince you to avoid it, you may want to know that one of the trigger warnings on the first page is “door knob insertion.”
For those interested in dark romance, and for those who despise dark romance, Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton may be the thing that makes you swear off love forever. The novel was banned for a short while on Amazon due to its trigger warnings, of which stalking and murder are the most toned down. As such, this will be the most bare-bones summary possible. Haunting Adeline follows Adeline, a successful writer, as she moves into her dead grandmother’s mansion. She soon realizes that she is being stalked by Zade Meadows, leader of a secret organization called Z, whose job is to end human trafficking. Supposedly this backstory provides an excuse for the dark, twisted things that Zade does throughout the novel, but quite frankly, nothing could ever qualify as an excuse for the horrid crimes this man commits. If anything, this backstory offers nothing but confusion. The irony is strong with this one. If you have any sensitivities towards dark romance, do not read this book under any circumstances. If you do not have any sensitivities towards dark romance, you may have some by the end of this book.
Her Pastry Shifters by Mia Harlan follows a group of contestants on a baking show with the ability to turn into pastries. One contestant turns into a croissant if he says too many words, one becomes a cannoli when he gets nervous, and the last becomes an eclair out of sympathy for the other two. They are all actively crushing on another contestant, Jess, who likes all three of them. The story is surprisingly devoid of jealousy, and the relationship dynamics are quite healthy compared to most romance novels in the same vein. The only issue is that all the characters are pastries for half of the book. Most of the humour in the book comes from puns about the foods they turn into, and the weird shenanigans they get up to behind closed doors. Ultimately, it is low stakes, all fun and games, and just plain weird. The characters all live happily ever after, but at the cost of three-fourths of the polycule being some variation of cooked dough. On the bright side, none of this bothers Jess in the least.
One of the strangest smut recommendations you may ever see floating across your screen is that of Wet Hot Allosaurus Summer by Lola Faust, and I am here to tell you to avoid it at all costs. The story follows Tanis, your average farm girl who, you may have guessed it, falls in love with Big Al, an allosaurus. What you may not have guessed, however, is that during the course of the book, there is a scene in which the allosaurus lovingly devours her gangrene-infected arm. How did she get an infected arm? She jumped in front of Big Al to protect him from her father’s shotgun. After she gets injured, the two lovers attempt to flee to a dino-human love sanctuary, and not long after her arm is devoured, her large inhuman boyfriend cheats on her with another human woman. This book is wild from start to finish, with more of a focus on romance than smut, but regardless of the smut-to-romance ratio, it will be enough to make you want to rinse your eyes out afterward.