There’s a common sentiment amongst many bookworms that they miss that childhood feeling of reading book after book, undistracted, watching the pile of completed reads growing beside them. With adult life, this pastime often gets side-lined by our busy schedules and, irritatingly, by the consistent urge to check Instagram every few seconds.
Yet the pandemic removed the solid structures of our lives. With more time, and a sharp surge in the need for distraction, reading has worked its way back into my life with a fervour. It has become a welcome distraction from the constant influx of news delivered through all manner of screens, and a way to empathise with others without the overwhelming sense of doom and gloom that has unfortunately shadowed this year.
With the lack of an established routine, there has also been a lacking sense of purpose. In order to goal-orientate myself once more, I have been using reading to challenge myself. This has included reading books which have been on my ‘TBR’ (to be read) pile for a long time, without ever being picked up – because I was either too scared, or too busy to read books of that size and scope – as well as allowing myself the freedom to read easier books once more. I have been making significant use of Goodreads’ Challenge feature, where, in January, you set a goal of the number of books you wish to read by the end of December. It was easy to fall victim to the debate that circled in lockdown regarding whether 2020 should be a time of productivity, or of rest, but in this way, reading became a productive way to be unproductive, being kind to my mental health.I have also found ways to further appreciate the subtle social aspect to reading. It is a solitary activity, but it does not exist in a vacuum. Goodreads connects you with other avid readers in your friendship group, and even with people you may not have met in real life. More excitingly, though, my TBR pile is inspired by recommendations from my friends and family, and there is something quietly satisfying about reading a book that has made someone you love happy. It is something to text them about, a point of contact in a period of isolation, to show that you listen to them, and respect them: a way to exist in a similar sphere to someone else for a while