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How have reading habits changed during lockdown?

The lockdown that happened as a result of COVID-19 affected everyone’s lifestyle routines. Maybe you found yourself sitting on the sofa avidly watching programmes you’d previously thought were the worst TV had to offer, or, more hopefully, you found yourself with a book in your hands much more frequently.

Although the pandemic did take away our collective freedom, there was one silver lining from the overwhelming boredom and isolation. Free time! Gone were endless commutes, working overtime and studying in school, instead we were faced with dozens more hours to fill. As a result, lots of people turned to activities that our fast-paced society was beginning to see as archaic: baking, knitting, and of course, reading.

Reading has long been an escape from stressful everyday life, providing an alternative fictional reality. That means that more of us found ourselves picking books up more frequently as a stress reliever. We carried out a survey into people’s reading habits throughout the pandemic and found that people turned to recurring formulaic genres in particular. Think Agatha Christie’s cosy and crime, and the classic whodunnits of crime fiction. Knowing the boundaries and rules within the fictional world made the uncontrollability of the pandemic somewhat easier to handle. I personally adored the likes of Tana French and Kate Atkinson throughout lockdown for this very reason!

However, some people turned to the huge classics that seemed way too intimidating to tackle back when free time was still a luxury. Well Read Company’s CEO Andrey Pronin made it a personal mission to complete Tolstoy’s literary monster, War and Peace, in the original Russian! He made it through the odd 1,200 pages in six weeks, which is quite an impressive feat.

Although the amount of time people had to focus on reading increased, I found through our survey that many people found it harder to concentrate on taking the words in. When we’re stressed, true concentration is a lot harder to achieve! Therefore people were more likely to read in quick spurts before turning to easy mind-numbing activities like exercise or watching films.

war and peace

All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy the chance to develop hobbies such as reading or other creative pursuits. Increased book sales nationwide and a new appreciation for literature seems to be on the silver linings we’re able to find in the pandemic!

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