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How the Pandemic changed my reading habits

And not necessarily for the better!

Girl sitting on white bedsheet, you can see she is wearing jeans ripped on the knee and a grey knitwear, holding a book open while reading
©Fabiola Peñalba-Unsplash

I've always been an avid reader. As a child, I used to read everything, literally. Growing up, I became more selective and all the books I had to read for school, even the boring ones, were instrumental in shaping my tastes in fiction and poetry.

I love the feeling of being drawn into the lives of the characters, their world, thoughts and dreams. I love to be part of their story and the feelings it leaves behind when you reach the end.


With a busy life, sometimes it is hard to find time to read. Early start of the day, long commute to the office, work, long commute back. And when you do get home, it's basically eat, shower, sleep, wake up, go to work, repeat. Your mind is tired, your eyes are tired, and sometimes reading a book is an effort rather than a pleasure.


Enters the lockdown. No need to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning, unless I want to. No exhausting commute to work: a corner of my living room is now my office. My day is still taken up by seven solid hours of work but when that's done, I log off, turn around and I'm home. Since I don't have to commute back, I find myself with more time on my hands, eager to use it to learn new skills, pursue a hobby, or make a start on that long list of books I intended to read, right?


WRONG. So wrong.


That's not to say I haven't read a book in the past six months. Just not as many as I had expected to. First comes the process of picking a book. Exciting, right? And yet, I found myself struggling. With my mind always alert on following the latest developments in the world, I wanted something that gave me a respite from all that. I read a lot of romance novels, for pleasure and for work, so that was a natural choice. But what if the story is not engaging? What if the characters are dull? What if the writing is not good? It's a risk we face every time we pick something new to read but somehow this time it mattered more.


I decided to play it safe and turned to my go-to authors. The ones that never let me down. The ones whose books I buy without even reading the blurb. One of them, in particular, had a book out so I went for it; however, I found myself struggling once again. At first, I kept putting off making a start on the book and when I did begin to read it, I didn't get that feeling of being drawn into the story, of being curious about the characters, of wanting to know more of what's going on in their lives. And I found the writing to be littered with "info-dumping".


But rather than point the finger at the author, I pointed it at myself. Maybe I was different. So I turned to authors I had not read before but nothing much changed. After reading the sample, or part of it, my feelings towards the story were tepid at best.

So I did what any sensible person would have done: I asked the Internet😉. What better place to find out if I was alone in this? If you've done the same, you know it doesn't really help. I found an equal number of articles claiming both book sales have surged during the pandemic and that people found reading harder. Some articles claimed that people have turned to genres that could provide that dose of escapism so desperately needed in these times, which is understandable.


So I guess there is no unique answer. Or rather, the answer is that we are all unique and we react differently to the world around us. Some of us took refuge in a book, some of us found it harder to concentrate on a book.


What about you? Have you found a book and stuck with it. Have you gone through several books during the Pandemic, or are you struggling to find the perfect fit?

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