Quarantine Pastime: Reading

Quarantine Pastime: Reading

Emma Aleccia , Journalist

People discovered many different things to keep themselves amused during quarantine. A prominent pastime that was rediscovered is the joy of books. Reading books is something people have done for years and years, but it’s a dying practice. Not many people read books outside of school for fun, and yet quarantine forced some people to reconsider. Many studies, including a survey done, show that there was an increase of people reading books to help pass the time during quarantine. This is a good thing, as books help enrich minds and provide stimulation outside of a screen.
A study was conducted at Wheaton Warrenville South, asking which students started reading again during quarantine. Of the people surveyed, there was about a 12 percent increase in people who read books during quarantine. “Reading can be therapeutic,” Connor Goodwin, writer for The Atlantic, said, “In fact, it might be the best antidote for the psychological toll of a socially distanced life.” Reading provides people with the ability to escape the world around them for a while and journey through a fictional world with characters that are also going through their own struggles. These struggles help the reader connect more with the book, creating a greater sense of satisfaction when the characters overcome their struggles. This could motivate readers to believe that things will get better, which could contribute to why people picked up books again during quarantine.
The students who were surveyed said that they started quarantine having only read one or no books a month, and ended quarantine reading between three and five books a month. “Readers are fleeing to appealing worlds that share little in common with our own” Angela Haupt, writer for The Washington Post, said. With the world as bleak as it was, it makes sense that people would want to escape to fictional worlds that didn’t resemble our bleak reality.
Rosie Fould, writer for Psychologies, did a study on comfort reading, concluding that “we can derive a similar amount of life satisfaction from feeling that we belong to a fictional world as we can from belonging to a real-life group.” The idea that people turned towards books for comfort during quarantine shows in the results of the WWS survey. People needed something to take their minds off the insanity that was the world, and books provided them with that distraction.
The genres of books those surveyed read during quarantine ranged from self-care to mystery and thriller to romantic comedies, but most read science fiction and fantasy books. It begs the question of why people gravitated towards science fiction, a genre mainly focused on surviving an apocalypse, when we turned towards books to escape the reality that we were living- our own apocalypse. It could be because we wanted to connect more with the characters, or maybe it’s because people wanted to take comfort in knowing that if those characters survived their world ending, it meant that we could too.
And survive the quarantine we did. We’re finally able to go back into the world with vaccines being released and stores opening up again. We’re not completely out of this pandemic, but we are slowly yet steadily rebuilding our world. Bookstores are opening their doors again, so now we can go and browse the shelves instead of scrolling through online stores to find a book to read. Some people might leave books in their quarantine days. Hopefully, some might continue to read as a source of entertainment, having discovered a love of books as many others have learned to love other such quarantine pastimes.