As we headed into lockdown I was like a possessed woman, making sure that I had enough books

Contributor: Katharine Dicks

I definitely read slightly more than usual at the beginning of lockdown but I think it is back to usual amounts now. As we headed into lockdown I was like a possessed woman, making sure that I had enough books. I usually have a list of books that I want to read and every now and again I will try and get a few from public libraries (I don’t very often buy books) but in the week before lockdown I borrowed a few from the University Library here in Cambridge (Enchanted April and a couple of German books) and went to several branch libraries to get copies, including Milton Rd and Arbury on the last Friday afternoon. I ended up with two large piles of books which I had to store in the dining room rather than my usual bedside table pile. And I was pleased that I was managing to read a book a week which is good for me.

My choice of reading material has not changed. I still select books that I want to read from reviews I hear or read or based on authors I have enjoyed in the past. I think in the early days of lockdown I did use my reading as a way to ensure that I got some “me” time, peace and quiet away from the rest of the household, an excuse to go and shut myself away for a while.

I know many people have spoken about finding it hard to read/concentrate during lockdown but this has not been my experience and I have not sought out pandemic books.

We have many books in our house that I would like to reread but I never seem to get round to it as there are always new books that I want to read.

I was able to start getting reading group books again from my local public library from August and at that time reservations were free so I was able to replenish my personal stock of books. Currently, public libraries are charging for reservations and I am not able to order specific books that I want to read without incurring a charge so just the other day I ordered online secondhand copies of some obscure books on my list which are not available from local libraries (The Fit by Philip Hensher, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page, Gabriel’s Angel by M Radcliffe, As it is in Heaven by Niall Williams) along with new books that we want to keep (What a Carve Up by Jonathan Coe – one of my favourite books and inspired to reread after seeing the online theatre version last year – and Graham Swift new ones).

I enjoyed Enchanted April and several crime novels by Belinda Bauer. One of my standout books was With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix, a palliative care doctor writing about death and attitudes towards it. Sounds grim but I found her writing to be beautiful.

Another factor in me being able to read more than usual is probably the whole menopause sleep thing which means that I was sometimes the only one awake around midnight!

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