An Introduction to Bookish ASMR Videos

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, January 11th.

This post originally ran September 30, 2015.

ASMR, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is “autonomous sensory meridian response,” which sounds scientific but actually just means the tingles some people get across their scalp in response to certain stimuli, such as listening to someone whispering. (Vox has a good article about it if you want more information.)

ASMR is something that can look completely bizarre from the outside. YouTube videos of people doing seemingly boring, repetitive activities–like crinkling bags or scratching different surfaces–can gets tens of thousands or even millions of views. I’d heard of ASMR before, mostly as a method of falling asleep easier, but it was through Booktube that I started seeing bookish ASMR videos in the recommended videos sidebar. Intrigued, I started clicking through, and though I’m not a total ASMR convert, I find myself drawn to these videos. They can be mesmerizing, “tingles” or no, and as with most things, I find them much more enjoyable with the addition of books.

Here are the basic varieties of bookish ASMR videos I’ve been able to find, so you can also fall down this rabbit hole. (Note: These videos are meant to be listened to with headphones.)

1) Books as objects


As with all of these videos, there are many variations on this theme. but they all have to do with using a book to make sounds. You can find videos that are just page flipping, or tapping, or scratching. (This is probably the most popular of these videos, but I get distracted when the books aren’t also visually appealing.)

2) Book sounds + whispers


Like the first, this is a lot of tapping, scratching, and flipping through pages, but with added whispering, often reading from the book. Some of these videos are your basic Booktube videos (like book hauls), just more softly spoken.

3) Roleplays


This was probably the first bookish ASMR video I saw, and let me tell you, it is weird to watch someone roleplay your job. Here’s another variety of the bookstore roleplay, which gets extra points for really seeming into the books she’s talking about.

Don’t worry, librarians! You can also watch people ASMR roleplay your profession!


These are just samplings of the bookish ASMR videos available. Let me know if you have any favourite bookish ASMR videos, and what you think of the whole phenomena! Also, have a bonus ASMR Star Trek bookstore roleplay.