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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC London chapter.

Bookstores tote bags are everywhere in London. You see them on the tube, on your university campus heavy with books, at the Columbia Flowers Market full of early-spring blossoms or on the High Street overflowing with groceries. They are literally taking London by storm. I have jumped on the trend myself and have one (who am I kidding I have way more than one). But why are people so obsessed with them?

For one, reading is ‘cool’ again. Compared to the start of Covid-19, 35% of people worldwide and 41% of UK-based people reportedly read more books. The renewed interest in reading spread to social media with BookTok, BookTube and Bookstagram rapidly gaining traction and followers. Teenagers and young adults alike spend hours scrolling through engaging and fast-paced book reviews and recommendations, compilations of the newest titles, and creative renditions of scenes and characters from their favourite series.

But that is not all. Books and reading have turned from a hobby into a lifestyle and aesthetic. Call it Bookcore or Dark & Light Academia, looking bookish, unashamedly nerdy, and dressing like an old-timey librarian is in – and hot. Being bookish is to Gen-Z what being Hipsters was to Millenials and platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest are now full of Bookcore outfit and style inspiration pics. The stylish Bookcore Gen-Z influencers sport long coats, tweed jackets, vintage-looking sweaters and wide leg trousers, teaching us all how to look like we work or shop (or both) at the coziest independent bookshop downtown. The most famous bookish tote bags fit right into the aesthetic with their muted coloured backgrounds and elaborate vintage-looking prints, and they never fail to make an appearance.

For literature and Bookcore fans, like for every other online community, dressing according to a certain style is not only a way to express themselves creatively but also a way to show that they fit in and belong. Carrying a bookstore tote bag – regardless of what you put in it or where you’re going – is a way to tell others that you read and frequent bookstores. It’s a way of saying “Hey, I love reading so much that I had to buy this bag and show it to the world” (bonus points if you whip out a book from your bookish bag and actually start reading). It also shows that you are supporting independent bookstores and choosing a reusable tote over a single-use plastic bag.

It might be cheesy, but I do love this sense of belonging that I get from finding out that the stranger sitting next to me on the tube or queuing in front of me at a coffee shop might share the same interests and passions as me. When I see someone with a matching green Daunt’s tote I do wonder what books they might enjoy or who their favourite author is. And, secretly, the shy and nerdy part of me hopes that they recognise me as a fellow reader.

To feed your bookstore tote bag obsession – here are a few of my favourite ones:

Aurora Colombo

UC London '23

Ma in Publishing at UCL | Ba in Foreign Literature and Languages Unimi & UCL | Multilingual, multicultural and lover of Art in all its forms. If I'm not running around London, you can find me in a small village in Italy. Actually, you probably can't find me, it's in the middle of nowhere. xx