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My reading life has been a mess for the last couple of months. Even before school was canceled, and the stay-at-home orders began, there was already a growing sense of uncertainty that still rules today. That has profoundly changed my relationship with books, and today I’m going to go rogue and share a few random thoughts on reading during the era of COVID-19.
I apologize in advance, if my thoughts seem less than well organized or a bit rambling. I gave myself the freedom to simply capture my feelings in print. I hope you’ll join me in the conversation.
- Historically, reading has been my solace during hard times, my escape mechanism. For that last two months that just hasn’t been true. Even if I’m reading a book I like, I pick it up, put it down, wander around the house, find some other distraction. Sure some books pull me back quicker than others, but I don’t think I’ve sat and read for an hour straight this entire time. No matter how good the book, my mind is busy. That’s exhausting and I feel cheated out of the pleasure books usually bring to my life.
- For many of you time to read is a big issue since you’re working from home and/or managing distance learning from your house. It makes sense that the quality of your reading, not to mention time for reading would suffer. I live alone, so don’t have the exact same situation as you might. But, living alone is a double edged sword. I don’t have others in my home distracting me, so I should have lots of time for reading, but I also don’t have anyone in my home TO distract me, so spend too much time trying to calm myself down.
- I’m sure most of you would agree with me that working from home does not mean more reading time. When I went to school and taught, I had clear boundaries between my work and home lives. Home life was where my reading world resided. Now, I NEVER fully leave work. Even when I try, it’s always close by, making reading focus even more difficult. At the end of a long work day, I’d often rather binge watch TV than read. It requires so much less brain space!
- I don’t know if it’s the books, the time, or just me, but I feel like the last couple of months my reading life has resided in the land of mediocrity. I have read a couple great books, but I’ve DNF’d several that others have loved, and I’ve felt just plain “meh” about many. Of those, I know on one level I really liked some, but they just didn’t give me the lift I wanted. Is it even right to expect books to uplift me? Too often I’ve started a book thinking it was going to be the one, but then grown restless and a little bored by the end. I know it’s not the books. It’s me, but every time a book fails to rescue me, I feel a nudge of depression trying to worm its way in.
- All this makes writing reviews a HUGE challenge. I don’t fully trust my own opinions about what I’ve read, and that, coupled with the fact that writing right now feels like so much work, make mini-reviews about the best I can muster for most books. It’s why you’ve seen me revamping a few of my older booklist posts and sharing those instead.
- I hope publishers will be kind and understanding about just how difficult this time is for their readers. I know my NetGalley percentage has dipped below the 80% mark where I usually hover. (This is a percent rating given to those of us reading in advance and is a calculation of books reviewed out of books approved.) I’m giving up on more books than usual, so can offer no reviews on those.
- Even Instagam/Bookstagram, a platform that I’ve come to love, has been a struggle for me during the time of COVID. Like everyone else, I can’t get books from the library, and I usually rely on a lot of those for my photos. It’s hard to get many great pics with the limited amount of physical copies available right now. Everything feels like work!
- Still, it’s NOT all bad news. I HAVE read books I’ve loved during this time of social distancing. Those have taken me out of the day-to-day doldrums. I only wish their balm on my psyche could last a little bit longer and that I could find a few more to do the same.
Has your reading life changed in the era of COVID-19? How are you coping through this ongoing global crisis?
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