Elevate your reading experience with these favorite bookish things

To consider yourself a reader, all you need is a book. It’s as simple as that.

However—and picture me saying this with a huge nerdy grin—if you’re looking for ways to elevate your reading experience, the Modern Mrs Darcy and What Should I Read Next teams are here for you. We often trade tips on what’s adding comfort and joy to our reading lives, and you don’t have to ask us twice to share some of our favorite bookish and book-adjacent things that bring joy to our reading lives.

For more ideas, check out Brenna and Holly’s Patreon bonus episode where they talk about reading with all five senses. It’s filled with great tips!

I hope you’ll enjoy perusing our team’s favorite bookish things and that they help you figure out ways to elevate your own reading life. And of course you know we’d love to hear your favorites in comments!

Brenna’s favorites

Spotify playlists. Reading playlists, atmospheric soundtracks, and meditative nature recordings have been the engine behind my reading life this year! It’s great to settle into my sound-dampening headphones and disappear into a story, letting the music drown out the rest of the world. A couple of my go-to playlists are Atmospheric Sci-fi Soundtracks and, for Sad Books, Melancholy Instrumentals.

Mountain Rose Herbs bulk tea. My reading drink of choice lately has been a home blend of honeybush and raspberry leaf herbal tea sweetened with honey. When I want a little caffeine I am absolutely devoted to their Assam black tea with a bit of coconut milk and honey.

Shannan’s favorites

Berkshire Blanket. My must-have for reading (and watching movies or tv and working at my desk) is a cozy blanket. Seven years ago, I found a Berkshire Blanket in HomeGoods. It was so fluffy and soft. I brought it home and the Hubby and I immediately began “fighting” over it so I went and bought one for him. Now our house has four of them in various locations. I even put it on my feet at night. They are beginning to show a bit of wear so I may have to get new ones. Can anyone recommend a weighted blanket? My body is telling me that I would LOVE one of those.

Holly’s favorites

In The Reads Woodmarks. I have a few of these wooden bookmarks, including this one, and I want all of them. I love the art and the assortment of quotes, maps, and bookish references, plus they hold up well to heavy books and traveling without getting crumpled like paper bookmarks can.

Stone diffuser for essential oils. The soft glow is so cozy and it’s really well made.

Ginger’s favorites

Tea lights. Candles aren’t an uncommon accompaniment to reading, but I’m talking about tea lights specifically. I always find myself “saving” the good candles to the point where I don’t light them enough. (I’m working on that impulse of “saving the good stuff.”) In the meantime, tea lights are my baby step. Since they’re common, they don’t feel precious. But tea lights really are an underrated candle. I love to light one in the morning when I’m doing contemplative reading in the early hours. I love to light them at dinner time, when they’re sure not to drip all over my table. Then I like to light them again in the evening when I’m reading (or watching BookTube). The next day gets a brand new fresh candle. I bought a 100 pack from my big box store for less than $5, and that will last me all season. You can’t beat that much twinkle for the price, but you can find fancier ones on Etsy and at your local shop.

ASMR rooms. This year I discovered BookTube (which has been both good and terrible for my reading life, you understand), and most importantly have gotten rather picky about my ASMR rooms. Living in Hawaii, a proper fireplace is not a current reality for me, so I’ve become one of those people that stream fireplaces on my television. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it does bring the cozy. Cat Trumpet has the best fireplaces on YouTube. They’re long-lasting so they don’t interrupt your reading, and they also have nature, anime, and other soothing nerdy-adjacent videos perfect for reading. For a more immersive atmosphere, Ambience of Yesteryear offers cozy rooms in every era—Victorian, Edwardian, Tudor, medieval, leafy courtyards, Sherlock Holmes’s parlor, and farmhouses at the holidays. It’s also the perfect season now for streaming Anne’s own library. I wait all year for this favorite reading room.

Donna’s favorites

Post-it Flag Pen. When I’m reading a book I own that I know I’m going to take lots of notes in, I get out my Post-it Flag Pen because it has it all: it’s a highlighter, a pen, and it has post-it flags attached!

Garnet Hill Plush-Loft Blanket and Throw. Most throw blankets are too small and light for my tastes, but this one is perfection. It’s super soft, has a bit of weight to it and covers me from head to toe. I can’t imagine my cozy reading nook without it!

Leigh‘s favorites

Libib. A few years ago, a Twitter friend shared about adding all the books she owned to Libib. An inventory at your fingertips? I immediately signed up. They’ve made it incredibly easy to catalog print books. You just scan the barcodes using their app! It’s magic. Since I had recently moved at the time, it made unpacking my books way more fun. Scanning the barcode is the first thing I do when a new book comes into my home. If you decide you no longer need a copy of something, it’s also easy to remove it from your catalog. You can create other shelves if you want to have a separate TBR or categorize by genre but I use it just for the digital record of what I own. No more accidentally buying duplicate copies. And, for better or worse, I now know how many books are in my place.

Anne‘s favorites

Book darts. This is an old school pick, in that longtime readers have surely heard me gush about them before, but they really are one of my favorite things. They make it so easy to read for fun while easily marking passages I may want to return to later, plus they work so well in tandem with my new journal. I often leave my book darts in my books when I finish them, and get such a kick out of coming across them when I re-read something.

What are your favorite bookish things? We’d love to hear what adds comfort and joy to your reading life.

P.S. The 2021 MMD gift guide for book lovers, A bounty of beautiful bookmarks: 20 charming place-holders and page-markers for bookworms to gift and enjoy,

P.P.S. Team episodes: WSIRN #253: A whole bunch of book recs, from our team of readers to you, WSIRN #268: Our team’s best books of the year, and WSIRN #291: The best books of summer (so far).

38 comments

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  1. Torrie says:

    I got a personalized “From the Library of” book embosser a couple of months ago. It’s so fun to put my stamp on the books I plan to keep in my permanent library. The best part was spending an entire Saturday afternoon embossing my current inventory.

    Thanks for the list! I’ll be checking out some of items.

    • Teresa B says:

      I never thought to have audio ambiance when I read. Thank you so much for sharing the Ambient Worlds link. I’m currently listening to Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts – Rainy Night at Hogwarts. It’s wonderful! And now I need to message my daughter (who LOVES HP) about this. Thank you!

  2. Stephanie Thibeau says:

    As a bibliophile and a gamer it brings me endless joy to play a board game about books! “Ex libris”is very cute and witty 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    Bookdarts, candles, and tea in my mug that was a gift from my boys a few years ago: “sometimes all you need is a good book and a cup of tea” from Indigo (Canada). My first thought was sometimes? All the time! LOL For tea, a favourite in the winter is rooibos, or any of the seasonally thematic teas sold at this time of year (cinnamon, cloves, etc)

  4. Patricia A Demilio says:

    I am a reading minimalist, I guess. I actually prefer quiet when I read. As long as I am warm, it’s good. I want a weighted blanket but I predict it would put me to sleep! Any slip of paper suits me for a bookmark!

  5. Suzanne C says:

    I can’t remember where I read this suggestion (probably MMD book club), but I enjoy pairing the book I’m reading with a coordinating bookmark. For example, when I read anything Jane Austen, I use my “My book boyfriend wears a cravat” bookmark. And I have to have some Zebra Mildliners handy for marking important passages in whatever I’m reading.

    • Teresa Bennett Ballantyne says:

      What a fun idea to use a coordinating bookmark! I also love the idea of having a highlighter at the ready to mark important passages. I’d not heard of Zebra Mildliners. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Jelan Heidelberg says:

    Shannon, I have tried several different weighted blankets. Most “experts” recommend they shouldn’t exceed 10% of your body weight… I’m not a total light-weight but it’s still tough to find a blanket that fits that guideline. I discovered a weighted blanket for kids and it’s perfect!

  7. Monica Wilson says:

    I have collected a lot of bookmarks over the years (and cut new ones out of old calendars or cards). When I start a new book, I enjoy picking out a bookmark that goes along with the book, either by its theme or by its colors. I just finished Rules of Civility with its turquoise lettering and finding a bookmark that had the same color scheme made me so happy every time I picked up the book!

    • Megan Campbell says:

      This is a nice idea, and is a collection that doesn’t take up much space or require much care/maintenance. But, how do you store them, how many do you have?

      • Monica Wilson says:

        I probably have over 50 bookmarks, and just have them in a drawer near my desk. It could be cute to have them in a basket or mug near my reading chair!

    • Serene says:

      Monica, you and I must be sisters. My favorite Christmas cards become bookmarks when I cut out the best parts. This year, for the first time, I got a Katie Daisy Planner and the extra floral pages make perfect bookmarks. It makes me happy every time I use them, although nothing makes it easy to stop reading mid-book 🤣

      • Monica Wilson says:

        Hi Serene! Isn’t it so much fun to recognize the cuteness in a card or calendar and turn it into a favorite bookmark? Glad to hear that there are others like me out there!

  8. Aimee says:

    Gosh, this post is like hygge on steroids – YAY!!! Not sure if it’s just me but the Anne’s library link doesn’t work for me?

  9. Jeri Pettingill says:

    My favorite blankets come from Minky Mommas. See them on Facebook and they sell them from there as well. So soft!! warm and heavy. Even in the summer, I want it next to me to “pet” while I read.

  10. Lisa F. says:

    My collection of bookmarks, book plates from Sunshine and Ravioli (a favorite Etsy shop), tea, and classical music or the Music Choice Soundscapes channel on Xfinity (although the lovely scenery pictures can be distracting!). I’m still trying to figure out the best way for me to mark quotes, passages, and words.

  11. Virginia Westlake says:

    For a number of years, the only souvenir I bought on trips was a bookmark from that city or country. I have them from Turkey, Italy, many places from the 40 countries we’ve traveled. It’s fun to pick one when I open a book. I don’t always match them because now I have one from Sweden in the latest John Grisham.

    • Heidi says:

      In my book club, when someone travels (although that’s been a while now obviously), they pick up bookmarks as souvenirs and then share with the group at the next meeting. It’s become a fun, and inexpensive, tradition. [Sometimes when bookmarks “proper” are expensive, it’s been postcards or something similar that can be used as a bookmark.] We all get to share in the scenery, architecture, etc. that way.

  12. Julie says:

    Thanks for this great list! Do you know if libib is able to add books on kindle? Or would you have to enter them manually?

    • Leigh Kramer says:

      I’m pretty sure you’d have to enter them manually, unless you had a spreadsheet to upload. It’s geared more toward physical collections with ISBN numbers (or movies, music, and games.) It might be worth contacting them to see what they say! I have a separate spreadsheet for my digital collection so that’s how I handle it.

  13. Sandi Wagner says:

    OMGoodness! Thank you Shannan! I always have blankets on my leather couch…because my dogs LOVE a blanket…and they shed…anyway…I like a lightweight-ish blanket or two that I actually tuck into the couch. Currently have Life is Good Christmas Dogs…but, in January….I would be looking again. I clicked on your link to Berkshire Blankets…and saw the gray Snoopy blankets. Perfect….and on sale for $16.50 each. Ordered two….and SURPRISE…at checkout it gave me a HUGE coupon….and I got BOTH of them, for a TOTAL of $16.98….and FREE shipping! I am so excited! Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  14. Dana says:

    I weight 142lbs and went with a 12lb weighted blanket. I just went on amazon and bought one for $40 that had great reviews. I was not sure if I would like it, so went “cheaper”. I love it. When I put it on my body, I just feel my stress melt away to be honest. Placebo effect? Possibly. Do I care? Nope.

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