“Why is it spicy?” BookTok trending overview

A drawing of a cat sitting on a stack of books. The books under the cat are yellow, red, blue, and green, in that order.
I will note the distinct lack of sexually diverse offerings within this first page... BiancaVanDijk via Pixabay

Please tell me you’ve seen the vine. In other news: BookTok!

If you read the Curlew, you might be a fan of reading in general. If you’re reading this specific article in the Curtalax, you’re probably a book fan. 

You may even be on BookTok.  

BookTok is a subsection of TikTok that talks about certain books. They joke about books. They joke about the characters. They review books, they talk about books; it’s everything books. 

And what’s one thing that brings BookTok together other than the books, maybe even more than the books? 


BookTok loves smut. Smut is sexual content, really. But, no one really calls it that. They just call it smut, or spice, which is the general term for it.  

It’s the most popular genre on BookTok, so I tested a theory.  

I went to the Trending on BookTok section on the Indigo website. There were 482 results, and a subsection called ‘SpicyTok.’ I started looking through the books in the ‘Trending on BookTok’ section just to see how many books actually had smut. 

The first book was Powerless by Lauren Roberts, and the overview mentioned the queen of non-human but still humanoid smut, Sarah J. Maas. Though Powerless does not have smut, the first Google search when I looked up this book was “Is Powerless by Lauren Roberts spicy?” At the same time, this is the first book in the series and the main characters are having their enemies-to-lovers moment, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the following books had some spice. 

This was followed up by Wildfire by Hannah Grace, who also wrote the TikTok-popular book Icebreaker. Again, the first Google search was “Is Wildfire by Hannah Grace spicy?” and the answer this time is yes! This book does have smut. Icebreaker pops up as number six in the list. 

The third and fourth results were both books in the Empyrean series by Rebecca Yarros, Fourth Wing and Iron Flame. The first is one of the most popular fantasy books on BookTok. Without ever having read this book, even I knew from hearing about it that it was spicy, which is why the Google search result from the last two wasn’t the same here. 

Number five is James Islington’s The Will of Many, which barely has romance, let alone smut, so there isn’t much to say about it in this article. 

Number seven is another TikTok favorite, but they are slightly mixed on whether or not it’s a good read: Twisted Love by Ana Huang. It’s described as steamy romance, so we know that it has quite a bit of spice. 

The next two, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear and Murder in the Family: A Novel by Cara Hunter aren’t romance books, so we’ll skip past them. 

We also get to see the queens of smut Sarah J. Maas and Colleen Hoover make one appearance each in this front page, with House of Sky and Breath and Too Late, respectively. Both of them are known for their smut scenes and it would be incredibly out of character for their books to be completely clean. 

Of the remaining 13 books on the front page, a whopping eight had smut in them. 

If we do some quick math of all 24 books on the front page, 15 of them were spicy. If we go by that math, about 63 per cent of all BookTok favourites have some sort of spice. More than half of the books that trend on TikTok are really just smut.  

If you, Curtilage reader, are interested in a BookTok book, it might be good to double check that spice rating before you dive in. 


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