BookTube is what it sounds like: a community of YouTube users who post vlogs about books. Videos range from the oh-so-popular (and neverending) to-be-read piles to monthly or yearly wrap-ups to deep dives into particular subgenres, tropes, and topics. BookTubers tag one another in video challenges, join up for readathons, and make it so that it’s not just dozens of bookworms shouting into the void—it’s a constant conversation.
SFF BookTube is a pocket of that online universe whose members love to discuss science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, YA… you name it. Some of these BookTubers post everything under the #BookTubeSFF hashtag on Twitter, while others read across genres and highlight certain SFF titles they can’t stop talking about. We’ve rounded up both types here—and what’s more, we’ve created a little tour through BookTube. Starting with the big-picture news vlogs to getting incredibly granular with reviews, here’s (nearly) every kind of SFF BookTube video depending on your mood and needs. Enjoy!
Elizziebooks has the hookup on BookTube news of all sorts, pointing viewers to other videos and channels of interest. Like some of the BookTubers on this list, she isn’t primarily into SFF, but judging from the video above, she seems interested in getting the word out about all genres.
Judging A Book By Its Cover
PeruseProject has a cute series where she challenges two friends to try to guess the plots of YA novels solely by looking at the covers. Her friend Justin, with his completely off-base guesses (Shatter Me is set during the Cold War and Fangirl is about marriage) should get his own channel. But once you find out what a book is actually about, then you decide if it winds up in your TBR pile…
Book Hauls & TBR Piles
The early days of YouTube had beauty bloggers talking directly to their fans about their latest “hauls” from the mall or (as time went on) online shopping, so it’s no surprise that the same dynamic moved into the booksphere. booksandpieces shows off her pile from a recent shopping trip in London as well as the advance review copies waiting for her in the mail. (You’ll also find plenty of “unboxing” videos for special bookish packages.)
Jellafy parodies her own haul videos with her helpful how-to.
But these BookTubers are humans like the rest of us, and can only read so many books in a certain amount of time. That’s where the TBR videos come in, like this one from PeruseProject, in which Regan shares her towering stack of summer reading: “Per usual, it’s pretty fantasy heavy, ’cause let’s be honest, that’s what I like to read.”
So, how many of those books that start the month in a TBR pile wind up off the pile four weeks later? Most BookTubers have a monthly wrap-up, as well as a yearly one highlighting their ultimate favorites. Elena Reads Books is one of the rare BookTubers who posts weekly updates, which highlight at least one SFF title per video. (She also reads an impressive amount per week!)
While this particular monthly wrap-up from Jen Campbell doesn’t feature much SFF, she makes an excellent point about the disappointment of starting a book you were excited about and not quite getting into it: “I am finding myself getting very strict with books at the moment. I have so many books on my shelves I am dying to get to that I think are gonna be great, and if a book is not living up to my expectations, I am perfectly happy now to dismiss it after a certain number of pages, between 50 and 100. If it’s not grabbing me, if I’m thinking This is OK but it’s not challenging me, it’s not making me really eager to pick it up again, it’s gone. I’m not saying these books are bad books, far from it, they’re just not for me at that particular time. There’s definitely a lot to be said for the right book at the right time, and these were the wrong books at the wrong time.” (Campbell reads across all genres, so you’ll find plenty of SFF videos at her channel.)
Rincey Reads’ monthly wrap-ups span several genres but always seem to include at least one SFF title. This particular one highlights Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown and Noelle Stevenson’s graphic novel Nimona.
Annual roundups like MercysBookishMusings’ usually look at about 10 percent of the year’s reading—and even then, they’re close to 20 minutes, so it’s the kind of video you settle in with a mug of tea to watch. For 2015, MercysBookishMusings raved about favorite author Robin Hobbs’ books, then found a similarly epic thread in Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: “It’s so deep, it’s so well thought out. It’s a science fiction story that’s based along this quest thread, but the quest is not important… It says really interesting things about sexuality, gender, what makes somebody human, how we connect to one another, friendship, love… I think this is one of those books that will cross boundaries in terms of people who will enjoy it.”
Here’s a topic we know Tor.com readers can’t get enough of—standalone SFF! Just one of multiple “most anticipated releases” videos from Nicole’s Adventures in SFF.
Try A Chapter
With this tag, you pick five or more books you’ve been meaning to get around to; you read the prologue and first chapter of each one; and decide if it’s worth continuing. Kalanadi chose nine, including impulse buys, books she had pre-ordered way back when but never actually cracked, and short story collections. Not surprisingly, it’s a grab bag: some opening chapters too slow to grab her, others—like the anecdote about a man fashioning a bow out of a dead woman’s body—just weird enough to keep going.
Genre discussions can range from in-depth to more of a sampling. InkBonesBooks has a series where she tackles subgenres including steampunk, fantasy of manners, and (above) urban fantasy.
Then there are book memes, in which BookTubers tag one another with challenges such as Top 5 Wednesday. From her first discovery of time travel in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight to Terry Pratchett’s paradox-filled Night Watch, Claire Rousseau found that time travel was a key part of her reading history from childhood to adulthood.
The Readables delves deeper into these kinds of distinctions, charting her five favorite magical objects in fantasy (and some sci-fi).
Like their blogging colleagues, BookTubers receive ARCs of upcoming books in exchange for an honest review. Thomas M. Wagner of SFF180 (formerly SFReviews.net) has been book blogging for 15 years, and posts both written and video reviews. With N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, he praises the worldbuilding, in which the world is nearly its own character, and the second-person storytelling style, which connects to the rest of the story threads in “a stroke of casual genius.”
Of Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Forest of Memory, Claire Rousseau says, “Like most of the Tor.com [Publishing] novellas that I’ve read so far, I would definitely read more in the same universe.” Her review of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway (which “did punch [her] in the feels”) includes a shout-out to McGuire’s song “Wicked Girls.”
And while AJ Reads wasn’t thrilled by Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, she adored Lilith’s Brood, as she shares in her spoiler-free review above.
BookTubers don’t just talk books! Here, as part of her “Let’s Talk” series, TheReadingOutlaw explains why you should subscribe to various SFF magazines and highlights two of her favorite stories in recent memory, “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire and “The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov.
Rereads & Readalongs
Some BookTubers, like BooksAndBigHair, will revisit favorite series; here, it’s Harry Potter, which she read for the first time as a child and wants to “go through the magic again” as an adult.
Others, like Sam’s Nonsense (a.k.a. Novels & Nonsense), treat it as an opportunity to bring in news readers through their viewers—that’s the thinking behind her Robin Hobb-A-Long Read-A-Thon.
Those kinds of reads culminate in BookTube chats, like when Let’s Read brought together fellow BookTubers from The Marvelous Reading Room, KindleReads, Eagle’s Books, and Kitty G to talk Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance.
#BookTubeSFF is a small but growing community of BookTubers reviewing, recommending, and discussing their favorite SFF. One way they’re getting word out about their corner of BookTube is with the #BookTubeSFF Awards, which just celebrated its second awards ceremony a few weeks ago. You can watch it above, featuring SFF180, Sam’s Nonsense, booksandpieces, Elena Reads Books, Kitty G, Common Touch of Fantasy, Nicole’s Adventures in SFF, and TheReadingOutlaw. Shortlist nominations are open to the public; the SFF BookTubers choose the top nominees and hold readalongs before voting on the winners.
Who are your favorite BookTubers?