Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The controversy of Colleen Hoover

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Many SEMO students read Colleen Hoover's books. With over 20 million books sold, Hoover is a New York's Best Seller, according to the NY Times.
Photo by Kerrigan Foster

Colleen Hoover’s books are all the rage in the romance and young adult fiction book genres. With serious themes of abuse, trauma, drugs, violence, mental illness, suicide, infidelity and miscarriages, readers are hooked on these books, but the possible effects of glorifying these topics is up for debate by consumers.

According to an article by Forbes Magazine, Colleen Hoover sold 8.6 million copies of her books by October of 2022. She sold more books than James Patterson, Dr. Suess and Josh Grisham combined.

With her success, Hoover has also faced many critics.

An opinion piece from The Observer said, “Hoover uses violence for its shock value, rather than addressing it with any real substance.”

Hoover has also been accused of glorifying abuse in her books. An example of glorified abuse by Hoover would be in her novel, "It Ends With Us." In this novel, the main character is wrongly treated by her partner and after a physical altercation decides to leave him. However in the end, they get back together despite the past of abuse.

The topics of violence and mental health in Hoover’s books is a debate amongst users of the social media app Tiktok.

Professor of CF102 Relationships in the 21st Century Sarah Kuborn discussed how media and books are portraying toxic relationships today.

“Media doesn’t always depict what is healthy and what is not. Authors are using unhealthy relationships to draw in readers because they know it will make them money,” Kuborn said.

The possible effects of Hoover’s books on readers have left people online discussing the glorification of potentially harmful themes in her books. Tiktok user Stephreadsalot posted a video covering the different trigger warnings on Hoover’s books and discusses the glorification.

Freshman marketing management major Brianna Kinworthy is an avid reader of Hoover’s books and said she thinks the romance aspect of Hoover’s books is what makes the readers stay.

“Another reason readers stay is because, despite her stories being controversial, for some people they are relatable,” Kinworthy said.

Another SEMO student noted ‘Booktok’, the algorithm of Tiktok where users post about books, is also responsible for Hoover’s success.

Sophomore pre-nursing major Flora May Rowden said, “I found out about [Hoover’s] books through ‘Booktok’ and think ‘Booktok’ has caused her to gain new readers. She also writes her books about serious topics and aims it towards the younger generation.”

Rowden also said she, and others, probably would have never heard of Hoover or bought her books if it weren’t for Tiktok.

“I know a store in Cape that had to order two hundred extra copies of her book ‘It Starts With Us’ because her name had become so big on Tiktok,” Rowden said.

Booktok has created microtrends amongst the book community.

According to an article by Arimetrics, microtrends are unique and short lived trends that can leave an impact on the economy because they are unsustainable and they quickly pass through.

Because of Booktok, certain books and authors have blown up, causing users of the app to buy these books and resell them at fast rates, sometimes without reading them.

An opinion piece written by Sofia Uriagereka-Herburger for ThePittNews stated Tiktok has created an entirely new personality for people who base themselves off of microtrends. This can cause people to buy specific books and other items that they see influencers or other Tiktok users promote because they deem them popular.

These books, while being criticized by some, are still treasured by readers. At the end of the day, whether or not Hoover’s books are fit for readers is up for her audience to decide.