I feel like most people fall into two camps: those who keep up with the hottest and most hyped releases, and those who pretty much refuse to do so (with some exceptions). I think I’ve been more of the latter in recent years because my reading time, energy, and interest has been so limited. I’m sick of talking about it and you’re sick of reading about it by now but yes, my reading life has been crappy since mid-2020. This year, it’s like I’m reinvigorated and back to my old self. I’m finding myself more curious about all the books and adding them to my TBR, even when I’m not sure they’re for “me.” I’m going out of my way to read books that are hyped and seeing if they are as good as everyone says. Many of these overhyped releases are usually literary fiction and that’s kind of the main reason I’ve stayed away, especially in recent years. I don’t love books with heavy topics or ones that make me sad (especially for contemporary fiction – it’s different for me if it’s a mystery or thriller). I just don’t gravitate toward those topics when I read because I like to either solve a crime or be happy in a romance haha.
I don’t know what it is about this year that has me wanting to keep up with the Joneses but I’m having a lot of fun doing it, if I’m being honest! Instead of saying “ugh I won’t ever read that, too much hype,” I find myself asking “is the hype real and deserved?” and wanting to see for myself. After all, super popular books are super popular for a reason. Even if it’s not a great one. (Looking at Colleen Hoover – just because her books are addicting and impossible to put down, does not mean they’re good or well-written, y’all!) I’ve been watching a TON of booktube and love seeing which books multiple people recommend. Why not give those books a shot even if I wouldn’t normally put it on my TBR? (Does this count as reading out of my comfort zone? lol)
I thought I’d take you through some of the really popular, overhyped books I’ve read so far this year, as well as the ones on my TBR. These are the ones I’ve seen on lists, in articles, for BOTM picks, on booktube, on Instagram and the wider book community, and maybe even on TikTok.
(PS: no need to come at me and say if you haven’t heard of these books so they must not be hyped or popular. These are popular in my corner(s) of the internet and have been recommended and read by enough people for me to think they deserved to be here haha)
NINTH HOUSE // // Would I have read this book because it’s by Leigh Bardugo and I love her and not because of the hype? Probably. But I kept seeing this book everywhere and just decided I was going to do it. I almost DNFed it but at that exact moment I contemplated it, the book picked up. Worth the hype? Yes, definitely. Bardugo doesn’t miss and I shouldn’t have doubted her.
TOMORROW X 3 // // I absolutely only read this because it was so many people’s favorite books of the year. I didn’t really enjoy it to the same extent as everyone else but it was a good, well-written book. I disagree with those saying you don’t need to love video games to love this because I think that would have made it waaaay better for me. Worth the hype? No, I don’t understand why this got as much hype as it did. I’m just being honest!
EMILY WILDE // // My first five-star read of 2023 and favorite of the year at the time of writing this post. I probably would have put this on my TBR and had it sit there for ages, gathering dust, if not for the hype. I adore faerie books but the historical fiction elements would have given me pause. Worth the hype? Yes, 100%. In fact, I think this book needs more readers ASAP. I think the hype has mostly been on “most anticipated” lists and not as many people diving in yet.
REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES // // I was sold on this one finally after seeing endless hype and a few key bookish friends rating it five-stars. I mostly read the library copy but listened to a handful of chapters as an audiobook, which was excellent. This is a really quiet and lovely story made significantly better by the octopus POV. Don’t knock it until you try it! I’m not really sure this should even be a five-star read for me but I was just so content reading it and the ending really got me. Worth the hype? Yes, definitely… I don’t think you should expect anything super groundbreaking honestly but it just really worked for me in particular. I could see anyone also rating this three-stars just as easily as five-stars if that makes sense.
THE HOUSEMAID // // I love a good thriller but this one was not high on my list until I kept seeing it EVERYWHERE. The Kindle Unlimited readathon prompted me to finally read this one and NINTH HOUSE so thank goodness for that. I don’t think the actual writing is good but it was suuuuuper addicting. Like I read this in one sitting. Worth the hype? Yes, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the suspense and readability of this book. Don’t go expecting award-winning prose but it had a lot of strong twists and intrigue.
SHADY HOLLOW // // The rise of cozy books brought this cute and murdery series up to the world and I’m happy that’s the case! I adore the setting and concept of woodland creatures solving murder mysteries. The following two books are more predictable than the first but the vibes are immaculate. Worth the hype? Yes, absolutely loved this one. The rest of the series you could truthfully skip if the predictability will annoy you but if you’re here for the vibes like me, you’ll be happy.
NO EXIT // // (Yes I read this last year but we’re including it here.) This was a book I had on my “consideration” shelf forever because I was like eh, maybe, I don’t know how it would be good or interesting. How many twists can there be when someone is locked in one room with snow everywhere? Well, apparently a lot. This wasn’t as good for me as others described but I’m glad I read it. It was tense and I couldn’t put it down – exceeded my expectations in that way. Worth the hype? I think so. If you’re curious about this one but on the fence like me, I’d recommend reading it if you need something fast-paced.
LOVELIGHT FARMS // // Another from last year. I don’t read a lot of indie romance and I think I should look into that bias, TBH. This book exceeded my expectations too! I loved the setting so much and the romance was adorable. I’m not sure I’ll continue the series because I’ve seen the next book relies heavily on the miscommunication trope and I’m not sure I’ll love it without the holiday feels. Worth the hype? Yes, for sure. Great ship, holiday feels and setting, small town vibes, etc.
On my TBR
BABEL is a super intimidating book that I probably would have ignored if not for the hype. This was a lot of people’s favorite book from last year and I’ve finally determined I’d like to take the plunge. I even requested it from the library!
THE SILENT PATIENT has been on my Goodreads TBR for a while but I think seeing some of the hype from booktubers I like recently made me think I should go for it. I don’t know why I didn’t read it before because most popular mystery/thrillers end up on my list haha. The synopsis didn’t really grab me before.
CONFESSIONS was another book that gets a ton of hype on booktube. After watching the millionth person review it and give it five-stars, I decided to request it from the library. It seems like a super addicting read.
LEGENDS & LATTES has been everywhere lately, especially as cozy reads are more and more popular. Everyone adored this and my expectations are super high, while also realizing that it’s going to be a “drama-free” story with a basic, comfy plot. Can’t wait!
HALF A SOUL has kind of the same situation as the one above as another cozy book. The Regency Era isn’t my fave but I love books involving faeries and a lot of people have liked this one lately.
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY has gotten a huuuuge amount of hype and I really didn’t even decide I wanted to read it until I walked into B&N the other day and simply grabbed it off the table. Yes, it’s historical fiction (which I don’t do much), but I love a girl-power story.
THE ONE has a really unique premise and again, super hyped on booktube. I don’t love the serial killer / cop dynamic as the premise for books usually but I finally decided to add it to my list.
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB is within my wheelhouse as a cozy mystery series but I don’t read a lot of books from the POV of elderly people haha. I’ve just seen sooo many people love this and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it too.
TRUE CRIME STORY is not exactly out of my comfort zone because I love mixed media mysteries but I’ve heard that it actually reads like a true crime story and for some reason I wasn’t sure I’d like. I’ve decided I definitely want to read it this year.
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME has gained steam on my TBR for sure. I really can’t pinpoint why I didn’t want to read it in the first place… maybe because I didn’t like that the killer was the MC’s son and it just felt too weird and close? Regardless, a few booktubers loved this one and I’m ready.
YELLOWFACE comes out later this year but the hype has gotten to me for sure. I haven’t read R.F. Kuang yet but we’ll see if this or BABEL ends up being my first read by this author!
THE PERFECT MARRIAGE is similar to THE SILENT PATIENT where I’ve just seen them everywhere and avoided them for no real reason other than hype. We’ll see when I get to it, but it’s definitely on my TBR now officially.