Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Secret’s Out: Becoming a Regular Reader

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

One of the first questions I get asked when I tell someone I am an English student is, ‘Who’s your favourite author?’ Or, ‘What books do you recommend?’ These questions terrify me for two reasons: Firstly, until this summer, I barely read, and secondly, the only book that comes to mind when someone asks is Tom Gates. That is not to say that I do not recommend Tom Gates – it is undeniably the best comfort read out there – but I do not feel that this is the answer that anyone was really looking for from an undergraduate English student.

When desperately trying to establish a good reading habit a couple of years ago, I made the mistake of going for the ‘classics’, or what is sometimes referred to as canonical literature, including Dickens’ Great Expectations, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. I have given each of these a go and struggled through to the end of two out of three, but none brought me as great enjoyment as when I read Tom Gates or, to pick something more my age, Normal People. And at the end of the day, this is exactly what reading is about: enjoyment. Therefore, next time you choose a new book, do not just reach for the one you think you should be reading, but pick one that will bring you joy. This is the most crucial stepping stone to becoming a more regular reader.

Another thing that I should mention at this point is that novels alone do not have to constitute the entirety of your reading time. Someone with good reading habits will enjoy skimming through a magazine or reading an online article, just as you are doing now. In fact, if you have come so far in this article, I would suggest that you are well on your way to becoming a regular reader because this is clearly something you want and are willing to research to achieve. Reading regularly does not necessarily mean that you get through a book a day or even a book a month, but it simply means that you have an interest in understanding other people’s lives and opinions, whether that be through a novel, a poem, or even a newspaper. It is equally important to explore all these options when trying to discover what suits you and what will be most enjoyable.

The last thing I would say is to ignore other people. Yes, it can be beneficial to ask for recommendations from others, but this can also put unnecessary pressure on you to enjoy a book that simply might not be to your taste. There are countless authors and books, so do not panic if the one your friend is reading is not for you. Set yourself a cut-off point of around 100 pages, and if you are still struggling to get stuck, then simply move on. Sometimes, I stop processing the words on the page because I want to like the book rather than getting lost in the narrative. Then my confidence drops, and I am reluctant to pick up something new, fearing that I will have the same problem and never get back into reading. Therefore, the best thing to do is to go back to a particular author you know you engage well with, or even something so simple as Tom Gates!

Reading regularly is undoubtedly a good habit that I continually strive to achieve. But the ‘secret’ is out: try to pick something to read every so often and find something you enjoy, and you will be surprised by the speed at which your reading routine improves. And just remember, the classics are not all they are made to be. Quite honestly, the literary canon contains books that even us English students struggle to understand. These texts are largely written by old white men and serve only in a historical context to prove the class and gender boundaries which have marginalised people for decades. Maybe one day, some of our modern, light-hearted works will be part of this so-called canon, and I’ll be rooting for Liz Pichon to feature all the way.

Kashvi Cox

Bristol '26

Hello, my name is Kashvi and I am an English undergraduate at the University of Bristol. This is my second year writing for Her Campus. Outside of my studies I love to dance, run and do anything sporty! I am also keen to get into the world of journalism and start to establish my own personal style of writing.