Maybe the dark academia vibes of Heffers will finally inspire you to start that TBR list? Emily Lawson-Todd with permission for Varsity

If you looked back on 2022 and struggled to count on one hand how many books you actually finished, pledging to yourself that this year you’ll finally get past the 30 page mark of that classic you pretend you’ve already read, you’re not alone. Every year it’s the same story: I set ridiculously ambitious reading goals, fall asleep reading a few pages of a novel every night of January, and get to December having barely dented my TBR. However, after a bit of desperate research on how to stick to my own reading resolutions, I’ve discovered a few tips which anyone looking to integrate more literature into their daily life can use to get into good habits that will survive, even amid the chaos of Lent term.

Start with a short read

If you have an urge to give into the hype and crack open A Little Life, or knuckle down and finally get War and Peace under your belt, hold back. Rather than risk sliding into a reading slump after edging your way through something that could double as a doorstop, try a book between 100 and 300 pages; thought-provoking reads like Open Water or The Vegetarian are great ones to kickstart your year.

“As an english student who spends all day squinting at print, it’s nice to have someone read to me for once!”

Be prepared to DNF

If you end up dreading picking your book up again, yet keep slogging away for the sake of finishing it, don’t be afraid to quit – starting a new one you look forward to reading will prevent one bad book from putting you off altogether.

Join a book club!

Whether it’s a literary society that meets your dark academia needs or a monthly book swap with some friends, reading with others will keep you motivated and introduce you to books you’d never pick up. Many bookshops offer monthly subscriptions, which give you something to look forward to during the depressing winter months and are more thrilling than checking out your Amazon basket.

LRB is just one of many ways to get a quick literary fix

Create some ‘good reading vibes’

Whatever the book, there’ll be a Spotify playlist out there to romanticise it for you – or alternatively, stick on YouTube and join a read-along for some company (and to avoid being distracted by your phone!).

Use a reading app

There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a few pages, going straight onto StoryGraph, and seeing your progress percentage sliding up. OK, that might sound slightly sad, but tracking reading goals, raving about favourites, organising your TBR and finding inspiration from your friends on an app helps you visualise every page as a step towards conquering that bucket list.

“Here’s to a year of more page flicking!”

Try a poetry app

If you’re like me and instinctively reach for a novel over a poetry collection when you walk into bookshops, I’ve found installing an app which reminds me to look at a poem every day integrates it into my routine and gives me a poetry fix in the five minutes I would otherwise spend scrolling through Instagram. Apps like Quill offer a daily poem, while others like Poesie even let you chat with other readers and find readings, making it easy to discover poetry you enjoy.

Why read when you can listen?

Whether it’s while walking to a lecture, at the gym, or washing the dishes, listening to books is the easiest way to incorporate more reading for pleasure (and as an English student who spends all day squinting at print, it’s nice to have someone read to me for once!). Instead of sticking on the same moody January playlist, choose an audiobook on BBC Sounds, Spotify or Audible; if you really want to spice it up, find a dramatised version or a reading by your favourite celebrity (even if it’s Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page reading you a bedtime story!).



Mountain View

My beef with BookTok: ‘uninventive, repetitive, and reductive’

Whether you’ve just finished a novel and need to know whether anyone hated that character as much as you did, or you’re looking to find out if a new release is actually worth the hype, look no further than the world of literary podcasts. Hear from authors themselves on Bookclubs hosted by the BBC World Service, or for some highbrow literary discussion, try the LRB Podcast. For a good gossip over the latest romances, Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is the place to go, while mystery and thriller fans should look no further than Read or Dead. Itching to escape the old white male writers you studied in school? Find Asian and Asian-American authors on Books and Boba, or African writers on Not Another Book Podcast.

Final tips!

  • Every time you buy a book, read a book
  • Read in the morning, not at night
  • Make a reading bucket list
  • Set a daily page goal

Most importantly, keep reading what you enjoy – here’s to a year of more page flicking!