Pick your next read with LitHits

An initiative spearheaded by a Catz Fellow is helping to get people reading.

LitHits is a digital reading project founded by Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Professor of English and Theatre Studies in the University’s Faculty of English and Tutorial Fellow at Catz.

The scheme delivers short excerpts of literature directly to email subscribers, giving them a taster of various literary works. Each passage is briefly introduced so readers can plunge straight into it, and is followed by information about the author, suggestions of other texts to read alongside, and a ‘what we love about this passage’ section.

The main goal of LitHits it to make it easier for people to get into, or back into, reading, by helping to overcome challenges such as a lack of time, difficulty choosing the next novel, or feeling overwhelmed by too much choice and too many book recommendations.

It comes to subscribers through a free weekly newsletter, meaning the literature that it features can be read at home, on the bus – or anywhere else!

Two people sit on sofas, holding books while smiling at the camera.Alex Paddock (L) and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (R) in the Weston Library’s ‘Space for Reading’

The project also aims to be as interactive and accessible as possible. Readers can share their favourites, and dip into the archive of past newsletters. They can even suggest texts to include in future, and become ‘Guest Curators’ if they wish.

The club has also recently teamed up with the Weston Library to providing information and book recommendations in its ‘Space for Reading’, located just inside the library’s entrance. Those attending can scan a QR code to get excerpts and recommendations straight to their device.

Looking to the future

While the service is currently delivered mostly through the newsletter, the team are currently working on the development of an app, which would make it even easier for users to engage with the recommendations while on the go.

This would also allow readers to select passages based on how much time they have to read or what they’re in the mood for.

The LitHits team are currently seeking investment to build and launch its app and develop partnerships with publishers and booksellers, who would be able to use it to help reactivate their backlists and allow their users a guided way to sample texts.

‘Reading is one of the best things you can do’

‘We want to break down barriers to reading, such as being too busy to read, not having the long stretches of time that people often think you need to enjoy a book, thinking something might be too difficult, or simply not knowing where to start in finding good material to read,’ says Kirsten.

‘We believe that reading is one of the best things you can do. Even five minutes of deep reading can transform you: cognitively, imaginatively and emotionally. It’s true that reading can calm your mind, yet it can also be invigorating and challenging.

‘Reading is also social, even though it can seem like something you do in isolation: it opens up new ideas, and it brings you together with other people both on and off the page.’

LitHits is also the engine behind the Faculty’s highly successful Ten Minute Book Club, currently going into its second and third seasons, which gives readers ten excerpts that you can read in ten minutes, alongside resources and introductions.

Get involved with LitHits today by signing up to the free weekly newsletter and receive a few moments of engaging literature straight to your inbox every Friday morning.

Main image: Sara Azmy