The world is a strange and kind of scary place right now. With the spread of COVID-19 affecting both physical and mental health all over the world, and social distancing, self quarantine, and shelter-in-place measures being enacted throughout the U.S. and dozens of other countries, I think everyone is at least a little on edge.
For many readers, myself included, I think we expected this time of self-quarantine to be an opportunity to spend more time reading those books we’ve been meaning to get around to. It makes sense: more time at home should mean more down time, right?
But a lot of us are finding the opposite to be true. I interact with a lot of readers and fellow book bloggers on Twitter, so I put out a Bat Signal asking how others’ reading patterns are being affected. Here’s what a few readers and bloggers had to say:
I was doing pretty well for the last couple weeks! But now daycare is closed so we’re balancing working from home with taking care of a 5 month old. Don’t think there will be much reading happening
–Joe at Black Sail Books
I don’t have children, but I am doing all of my work from home now, which has been a bit of an adjustment. Most of my work is reading documents, research, and writing reports, and I’m finding that spending several hours reading for work at home makes it more difficult to read for pleasure at home; the boundary is becoming blurred. Another blogger is having a similar issue with school work:
I can’t even read my textbooks to finish my schooling. It’s awful.
–Briar at Briar’s Reviews
I’m having the same problem. I just end up with no motivation.
–Nikki at Nikki Swift Reads
I actually have way less free time to read now. I’m helping my kids with their school assignments during the day. And then I need to do my own work for my job after that, usually at night. So it’s been very tough to find time to read since being quarantined.
–Nick at Out of This World Reviews
My reading has definitely gone downhill since the quarantine!
–Krista at The Bookish Hedgemom
I had a lengthier exchange with Kristy of Caffeinated Fae, and she had this to say:
For me, reading requires having the energy to focus. With this pandemic happening, my energy has been sapped by the news, the stress, and my anxiety. Since my energy has been used up, I can’t seem to focus on anything. Unfortunately, that means that my reading has been put on the back burner.
We went on to discuss the toll our current situation has had on our blogging:
I actually took a week hiatus from my blog because I wasn’t in the right headspace for it. It’s hard to write bookish blog posts when you’re not able to read.
I’ve felt the same way. A reading slump is not conducive to blogging when your blog is about books!
Kristy and I also reminded each other of the importance of solidarity during this time. If you are finding yourself in a similar boat, unable to focus on reading (or any other activity) because of all the very real, amplified anxieties facing all of us every day right now, just know that you are not alone! We are all in this together.
Don’t feel guilty or beat yourself up over that, either. If there was ever a time to shamelessly do nothing but watch Netflix and eat Cheetos all day, it’s now! Do something that doesn’t require your energy, something that will actually help you relax, unwind, and deal with the mental stress we are all dealing with.
One thing that has helped me cope somewhat with this adjustment is my virtual book club. My regular book club obviously can’t meet in person right now, so I floated the idea of meeting virtually via Zoom. This got me thinking, if the meeting is virtual, why not invite people who live far away, as well?
So I hosted a Zoom meeting last Friday that friends and acquaintances of mine in other states attended, and we all had such a good time that we are making it weekly! At least for as long as the self quarantine measures last. I can already tell it will be the highlight of my week.
How has social distancing affected your reading?
Are you finding it easier, more difficult, or about the same to make time to read?
Are there any other activities that you’ve found help alleviate anxiety or stress?
Let me know in the comments!
If you’re interested in joining my Virtual Book Club, or starting one of your own, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help however I can!
Stay safe out there, friends, and happy reading (or whatever activity you’re doing these days that makes you happy)!