Last year was the year I (finally) got around to getting a website built and setting myself up with profiles on Bookstagram and BookTok. And while I was very hit and miss with posting on the latter, I got very enthusiastic about Bookstagram and caught up in the hype surrounding the biggest Bookstagram books of 2023. The vibrant community of book lovers on Instagram was buzzing with discussions, reviews, and recommendations throughout the year, and while I didn’t quite perfect the art of posting consistently myself, I thoroughly enjoyed making so many great new book friends and seeing what they were reading.

And then, of course, bowing to the inevitable peer pressure and buying them myself! From thrilling mysteries to awe-inspiring fantasy, the books that got the most hype on Bookstagram throughout the year (deserved or not!) offered something for every type of reader. 

Here’s a retrospective look at the titles that not only dominated our bookshelves but also our conversations in the world of Bookstagram in 2023, and how I rated each.

A Court Of Thornes And Roses (ACOTAR) By Sarah J Mass, Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

While by new means a new craze on Bookstagram this year, Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses continues to be a firm favourite. If you’ve (somehow!) not encountered this book yet, this is a fantasy novel that transports readers into a world where faeries and magical lands exist. The story follows Feyre, a young huntress, who finds herself taken to a faerie realm as retribution for a life she took. This land, filled with ancient curses and lethal politics, transforms her initial hatred for her captor into a complex mix of passion and loyalty. Richly woven with elements of folklore and romance, the book has been lauded for its imaginative world-building and the development of its strong, multifaceted characters.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Read My Full Review

Buy The Book

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a charming and witty romance novel that follows the unique story of Tiffy and Leon. Sharing an apartment and a bed, but never at the same time due to opposite work schedules, they start communicating through notes. This unconventional arrangement leads them on a journey of self-discovery and emotional growth, as their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. Praised for its heartwarming narrative and engaging characters, the novel explores themes of love, friendship, and the importance of communication in the most unlikely circumstances. This was a pure feel-good read. A page-turner that required zero effort and was simultaneously relaxing and charming.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Read My Review

Buy The Book

Bookstagram Made Me Buy The Flatshare: Is It Worth The Hype?
A Review Of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros is a standout novel in the romantasy genre, creating a buzz on Bookstagram for its captivating blend of fantasy and romance. Set in a world of dragon riders, the story follows Violet Sorrengail, a student at Basgiath War College, who aspires to become a dragon rider. The book delves into the challenges and intricacies of Violet’s journey, set against the backdrop of a richly built fantasy world. Yarros’s novel is praised for its detailed world-building, strong character development, and the enthralling plot that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

The sequel to Fourth Wing, Iron Flame continues the saga of Violet Sorrengail, a student at Basgiath War College aspiring to become a skilled dragon rider. Despite physical challenges and the ordeals of the war college, Violet’s determination and intellect make her a formidable protagonist. The plot evolves as Violet navigates her training, relationships, and the unveiling of concealed truths, building towards revelations that could alter the destiny of Basgiath War College and its inhabitants. The book received widespread acclaim, selling over half a million copies on its release day, and was ranked #1 national fiction bestseller by Publishers Weekly in November 2023.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden is a gripping psychological thriller that delves into the life of a live-in maid working for the affluent and mysterious Winchester family. The story masterfully unravels the dark and complex layers of each character, keeping readers deeply invested and on edge. As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that the maid’s role in the household is more intricate and perilous than it first appears, leading to shocking revelations and twists that challenge perceptions of truth and deception. The novel has been highly praised for its suspenseful plot and richly developed characters.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

Before I Let You Go by Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan’s Before I Let You Go explores the emotional complexities of Yasmen and Josiah’s relationship, torn by past traumas and struggles. The novel dives deep into themes of love, loss, and the intricacies of co-parenting. Set against the backdrop of shared business responsibilities, the story depicts their journey of rediscovery and the resilience of love. As they navigate through their revived feelings and past wounds, the book highlights the challenges and potential of second-chance romances, making it a poignant and heartfelt read.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

In The Deal by Elle Kennedy, the author puts a fresh spin on the classic romance trope. The story revolves around Hannah Wells and Garrett Graham, who form an unlikely alliance: she helps him improve his grades, and he helps her attract the attention of another man. However, this business-like arrangement soon blossoms into an intense and passionate romance. Praised for its witty dialogue, engaging plot, and charismatic characters (and with good reason!), The Deal has been a favourite among readers for its blend of humour, heart, and the development of a genuine connection between the protagonists. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and it’s part of the escalating fixation with hockey romances, something I never thought I’d enjoy but have become low key obsessed with since reading Hunting Eden. (FYI while Hunting Eden and the other books by VH Nicolson didn’t make this list on account of not going viral on Bookstagram yet, they are thoroughly worth the read!)

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

In Reminders of Him, Colleen Hoover tells the heartrending story of Kenna Rowan, who returns to her hometown seeking redemption and a reunion with her daughter after serving time in prison. The novel is an emotional exploration of second chances, as Kenna struggles against a community unwilling to forgive her past. Hoover’s writing poignantly captures the pain of separation and the power of hope, making it a deeply moving narrative. The book has been commended for its emotional depth and Hoover’s ability to create relatable, multifaceted characters. 

While we’re on the subject of Colleen Hoover honourable mention that needs to be given to It Ends With Us and It Starts With Us. I’ve not listed them separately as I think the real hype surrounding this duology was pretty much done by the time I stumbled on them.The former was my first encounter with the author, and I loved it. The latter was my second, and I really didn’t like it much. Reminders of Him found a middle ground between the two (for me at least), but still didn’t quite manage a four star rating.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Buy The Book

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace is a novel that skillfully combines the competitive worlds of figure skating and hockey. Yes, it’s another hockey romance. I really wasn’t kidding when I said I’d become fixated this year. This one tells the story of Anastasia, a figure skater who receives a scholarship to a university with a prestigious skating team, and Nate Hawkins, the hockey team captain. Their initial animosity turns into an unexpected romance. The book has been celebrated for its engaging narrative, the dynamic between the protagonists, and the depiction of the passionate world of winter sports. It offers a heartwarming and delightful read that captures the essence of rivalry turning into love.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Lucy Score’s Things We Never Got Over presents a captivating narrative of Naomi, who comes to her estranged twin’s aid only to find herself in a predicament involving a niece she never knew and a life turned upside down. The book artfully blends humour, romance, and a hint of suspense, as Naomi navigates this new chapter of her life. The story has been praised for its engaging character development, witty dialogue, and the evolving romance that forms the heart of the plot, making it a favourite among readers who enjoy contemporary romance with depth and humour.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

The Pumpkin Spice Cafe by Laurie Gilmore

The Pumpkin Spice Cafe by Laurie Gilmore is a charming small-town romance, a Sunday Times bestseller that perfectly captures the essence of autumn. Jeanie, inheriting her aunt’s beloved cafe in Dream Harbor, leaves her unfulfilling desk job for a new start. She meets Logan, a grumpy local farmer who initially resists her cheerful presence. The novel explores their evolving relationship, featuring the popular ‘grumpy x sunshine’ trope. This cosy and romantic story, ideal for fans of Gilmore Girls, promises a heartwarming journey through challenges, changes, and the power of optimism in a close-knit community.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

Honey & Spice by Bold Babalola

In Honey & Spice by Bold Babalola, Kiki Banjo, a witty and charismatic student radio show host, navigates the complexities of college romance and societal expectations. Known for her sharp insights on love and relationships, Kiki’s world is turned upside down when she unexpectedly falls for Malakai Korede, a man she had previously dismissed as a player. The novel brilliantly captures the nuances of young love, evolving perceptions, and the challenges of balancing personal beliefs with the realities of the heart. Babalola’s writing is praised for its humour, relatable characters, and an engaging plot that resonates particularly with younger readers navigating their own romantic journeys.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang 

Not one I’d usually pick up I couldn’t resist the assurances from so many that it was worth the read and, being as it is about writing and publishing, I decided to give it a go. Yellowface by R. F. Kuang is a novel that satirises racial diversity in the publishing industry and explores themes related to social media, particularly Twitter. The story follows June Hayward, an unsuccessful young author who, after the death of her former classmate Athena Liu, a Chinese-American author and industry darling, decides to edit and publish Athena’s manuscript as her own work under an Asian-sounding name. This act sparks controversy and accusations of cultural appropriation and plagiarism on social media. The novel is Kuang’s first venture into literary fiction and has been noted for its critique of the publishing industry and exploration of complex themes related to race and authenticity. Overall I found it to be thought-provoking and enjoyable to read, though perhaps not quite worthy of the incredibly high praise I’ve seen it receive. I suspect the reason I feel that way about it, however, it that the subject made me deeply, deeply uncomfortable. The thought of stealing another writer’s book is awful to begin with, but add in the racial undertones and it’s just unpleasant to read on one level. Fortunately, it’s very well written and the subject is worthy of discussion.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

Spare by Prince Harry

Speaking of uncomfortably racist undertones, Spare is a deeply personal and revealing memoir by Prince Harry, offering an intimate look into his life. From his childhood experiences to the tragic loss of his mother, Princess Diana, and his journey in the British Army, the book provides candid insights into the life of a modern royal. It also delves into his relationship with Meghan Markle and the challenges they faced together. This memoir stands out for its honesty and the unique perspective it offers on the British Royal Family, making it a compelling read for those interested in contemporary royal affairs and personal stories of resilience and finding one’s path. It’s not going to be for everyone this book. If you’re not a fan of the royals, or you’re sceptical about how much we can believe about Mexit and everything that’s been said and done by Prince Harry and Megan since, don’t bother. It will just make you angry. BUT, if like me you’re a fan of the Prince, and intrigued by the royals in general, it’s a great (if at times slightly cringe-worthy) read.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

In Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, readers are presented with a gripping family saga that begins with the death of Eleanor Bennett. The legacy she leaves behind, including a mysterious voice recording and a family recipe for black cake, becomes the key to unravelling hidden truths and deeply buried family secrets. The novel weaves an intricate narrative that spans generations and geographies, exploring themes of identity, heritage, and the complex bonds of family. Wilkerson’s storytelling is celebrated for its depth, emotional resonance, and the way it masterfully ties together the past and present to reveal surprising connections and revelations.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

Weyward by Emilia Hart

Weyward by Emilia Hart is an enchanting debut novel that skillfully intertwines the lives of three women across different centuries, all linked to the mystical Weyward cottage. The narrative spans from the 17th century witch trials to the turbulence of World War II, and finally to the present day, as each woman contends with societal expectations, personal challenges, and the cottage’s enigmatic legacy. Hart’s novel is lauded for its rich historical detail, compelling character development, and the seamless weaving of these distinct timelines into a single, captivating story. It’s a tribute to female resilience and the enduring power of family and history. And I have to say, the hype is entirely deserved on this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Buy The Book

The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall

Despite its rather long winded nature, The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic is as wholesome and heartwarming a magical novel as the title suggests. This has been much touted on both Bookstagram and Booktok as being a cross between Practical Magic and Gilmore Girls and, I have to admit, I went into it with a healthy dose of scepticism over whether it would actually live up to this claim. Happily, it did! The story revolves around Sadie Revelare, who believes in the curse that accompanies her magic – four heartbreaks. As her life starts unravelling with her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis and the return of her first heartbreak, Jake McNealy, Sadie confronts buried family secrets and the impending death of her grandmother. The novel explores themes of love, loss, and the difficult choices between magic and love, all set in a charming and witchy narrative​ that’s quite difficult to fault. I won’t say it’s a flawless book, but it’s certainly very well written and enjoyable to read.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Buy The Book

So, Were The Biggest Bookstagram Books Of The Year Worth The Hype?

These titles not only defined the literary trends of 2023 but also showcased the diverse interests of the Bookstagram community. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading all of these books. While they didn’t all merit five stars from me, many of them did, and the rest (with the exception of Reminders of Him) were all solid four star reads. Given how easily the hype surrounding books on Bookstagram can run away from the actual merits of the book, this is quite exceptional.

Y’all had great taste this year. 

I will not say that every book that’s massively hyped on the ‘gram is worth it. For one thing, there were plenty of others that went viral last year which I didn’t like the sound of and didn’t bother getting. But, that’s largely down to personal preference and taste. I mostly read romance novels, with occasional forays into Romantasies. I appreciated the push from these viral recommendations to step outside of my comfort genres and read a bit more widely than I usually do. Biographies aren’t something I usually pick up at all, and yet Spare was a genuine treat. I had always also thought that hockey romances were something to avoid, being as I am entirely unathletic and in no way a fan of hockey or your typical ‘jock’. And yet, they’ve rapidly become my favourite guilty pleasure. 

So, were the biggest Bookstagram books of 2023 worth the hype? For the most part, yes, absolutely!

As we step into 2024, I’m very excited to see what new recommendations and wonderful reads the year brings. And, I promise, I will try to be more consistent in my own posting! If you’re not already, head over to Instagram (or TikTok or Facebook if you prefer), and give me a follow.