Novel ideas to help you read more in 2020

Healthy diet starting to waver? Is a night in front of the telly once again more appealing than heading to the gym? Has your Dry January gotten a little bit damp?


Sticking to New Year’s resolutions can be hard and the end of January can leave us feeling defeated. But one resolution we should be able to stick to is ‘to read more’… right?

It sounds so easy yet year on the year the books we purchase with good intentions end up being used as doorstops or in a cupboard next to those swanky running trainers that never saw the light of February.

Author and English academic Dr Oli Tearle has shared three practical steps that may help increase your book reading productivity in 2020.

He’s also shared his top five reads in case you’re in need of a little inspiration.


1. Read every night before bed, no matter what

It’s well-known that looking at a well-lit screen on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop just before retiring to bed isn’t a good way to induce a good night’s sleep.

By contrast, reading a good old-fashioned book is a good way to relax you before sleep (and, of course, a print book often provides the added bonus of a bit of bibliosmia, or pleasant book-smell).

Make it your mission for 2020 to read for at least 10-15 minutes in bed before turning out the light – or until you find yourself nodding off…

2. Have a lot of unread books on your shelves? Pick out the shortest unread classics and set yourself a target

The Japanese language has a handy word many readers will identify with: tsundoku. It means ‘buying a load of books and then not getting around to reading them’.

I’ve had Candide in my possession for years, having picked it up at a charity shop when I was about 17. Why have I never read it? It’s barely 150 pages long, and a classic.

I’ve made it my aim in 2020 to pile up all those unread short classics I feel I ought to have read by now, and to read a new one every week.

It’ll only take a few hours out of my busy week, and by the end of the year I’ll be able to add 52 famous novels and novellas to my other bookshelf, holding all the books I have read.

3. Read more poetry

As initiatives like Transport for London’s Poetry on the Underground demonstrate, a poem makes for ideal reading when you’re commuting to and from work on the Tube or travelling on a crowded train.

There are lots of great anthologies of short poems available, with many funny and moving lyric poems being less than a page long.

This means they’re the perfect thing to read (and perhaps even re-read) while commuting on public transport.

My top five reads of all time

If you’re not sure what to read, then the Loughborough News Blog on my top five books may inspire you.

I recommend:

  • H. G. Wells, The Time Machine
  • Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings
  • Hope Mirrlees, Paris: A Poem
  • William Baldwin, Beware the Cat
  • Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams

Happy reading!‌

Fun fact: Dr Tearle is the man behind Interesting Literature (a blog that has more than 30 million views and 100k+ Twitter followers, one of which is J. K. Rowling) and he authored, among other books, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History.

All images courtesy of Getty Images.