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We at Book Riot like a social media trend just as much as anyone, especially when we can find a bookish slant. You might’ve seen this latest viral formula when it first appeared on TikTok as a rating game. Or perhaps you, like this elder millennial, caught on when it made its way to Twitter.
The basic formula is that you say someone is “a 10 but” and then follow it with some sort of dealbreaker. At first it was just friends posing fictional scenarios for each other to respond to. I might post “she’s a 10 but she pronounces the l in salmon.” Then my friends could respond with her new rating based on that quirk. (She’s a 3. If you pronounce that l, we can’t talk. I am working on unpacking oppressive linguistic biases, but I can’t get over that one.)
Then, it grew to be sort of a self-deprecating thing — TikTokers pointing out their low-stakes toxic traits. As an example:
she’s a 10 but cries when she gets overwhelmed
— alexis (@alexisnicole47) June 26, 2022
While they’re often silly things, some include some real red flags. For example, one of my fellow Rioters suggested this bookish gem: He’s a 10 but his bookshelves only have Ayn Rand.
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Obviously, there are lots of ways of riffing on the formula. You could pull out the Uno reverse and flip the punchline. My aforementioned colleague also identified some relationship green flags: He’s a 3 but his home library has a ladder.
Of course, bookish Twitter took the idea farther by using the formula to describe book characters. Another Rioter demonstrated a comics example: He’s a 10 but he’s got daddy issues and a secret cave. Billionaire Bruce sounds a lot less attractive when you phrase it that way.
Best of the Bookish “A 10 But” Tweets
Alright, now that you’re up to speed, let’s look at some of the best bookish “a 10 but” tweets. First, here’s the gem that made me decide to write this post in the first place. I’m a Twilight fan ¯_(ツ)_/¯
He’s a 10 but he’s impossibly fast and strong. His skin is pale white and ice cold. His eyes change color, and sometimes he speaks like he’s from a different time. He never eats or drinks anything. He doesn’t go out in the sunlight.
— brooke (@ladyefron) June 23, 2022
Next up, here is one that may or may not be about me.
she’s a 10 but she romanticizes her life in hopes of getting the type of love she reads about in books
— cat is waiting for st vol. 2 | silverstone (@corecobalt) June 23, 2022
For my fellow Jane Austen fans, you know that Darcy is the ideal candidate for this trend. Of course, Pride and Prejudice includes other characters we could use the formula to describe, as you’ll see below. (And so does Emma!)
He’s a 10 but he tells you he loves you despite his better judgment, his family’s expectations, and the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance
— emma mayer (@emmamayer1996) June 21, 2022
she’s a 10 but she has no money and no prospects. she’s already a burden to her parents. and she’s frightened.
— maddy weinberg (@weinandcheez) June 22, 2022
Hmmm…actually, those regency era leading men always had red flags. Jane Eyre would have a hard time convincing me Rochester was even a 5.
he’s a 10 but his first wife is locked in the attic
— the moon’s wife (@bookishseawitch) June 21, 2022
he’s a 10 but he has a mentally unwell wife locked in the attic and you are his plain mistress
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) June 20, 2022
Plenty of other beloved classics found their way into the conversation as well. These included young adult favorites like Louis Sachar’s Holes and gothic horror masterpiece We Have Always Lived in the Castle by the great Shirley Jackson.
She’s a 10 but she’s forcing teenagers to dig holes in the desert
— Vinny Thomas (@vinn_ayy) June 21, 2022
She’s a 10 but she likes Amanita phalloides, the deathcup mushroom, and everyone else in her family is dead.
— The Shirley Jackson Society (@SJ_Society) June 23, 2022
If he makes poor choices that lead to the rise of a powerful evil, you should probably pass on that second date. I’m sure even Tolkien would agree.
okay so: he’s a 10, but inside the heart of mount doom he refused to cast the one ring into the fire and destroy it—so even though it should’ve ended that day, evil was allowed to endure
— anna maría (@onlyannamaria) June 23, 2022
Finally, newer popular titles like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World were also represented.
she’s a 10 but you have to fight her ex who is evil and there are actually 7 of them
— hatsune mitski (@zephanijong) June 21, 2022
Don’t lose your perfect 10 rating by being someone who doesn’t come to Book Riot for all the best bookish content. If you enjoy bookish social media, try some of these other great posts: