Nothing sad! So no tragedy thank you very much

Contributor: Gill Mead

Have you read more or less during lockdown, or much the same as usual?

Started off less – used to read on frequent train journeys to babysit grandsons or up to London for ballet etc [sob] – so frequent reading stopped when that stopped. Now – probably the same BUT have a reading ritual – no longer a cosy corner in a railway carriage – but curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a cat, a cup of tea and – my lockdown comfort discovery – a long thin hot water bottle that stretches from tummy to knees – bliss

Has lockdown affected your choice of reading material?

Nothing sad! So no tragedy thank you very much. 

Have you switched from your normal genre? eg started reading poetry, short stories, non fiction, drama?

Nah – same old tastes linger on

Have you been using reading in a different way – for example  for comfort, raising your spirits, for escapism, distraction?

Oh dear – think I’ve  always read for all these things! Apart from when it was on a syllabus! Obviously a lightweight, me!

Have you been finding it harder to concentrate during lockdown?

You betcha! Sorry “War and Peace” – long novels are out! 

Now that you can’t go to a bookshop or library to browse, how do you get inspiration for titles? (Radio? Friends? Online reviews? Emails from Amazon, Waterstones, etc?)

Friends, reviews in Guardian or Observer, radio programmes, emails from or 

Have you embarked on reading all the books you already own but have never read?

Absolutely – what a treat! Now I remember why I bought them in the first place. 

Have you been listening to audiobooks rather than, or in addition to, reading? If so, does listening add something different/extra to your experience of the book that you don’t get by reading it yourself?

No more than I did before. But do enjoy audio books – love the way a different voice/expression brings out things I hadn’t noticed before – AND you can do a bit of light dusting as well!

Have you started books and been unable to finish them?

Only if they are very boring.

Have you been reading books about pandemics? eg The Plague by Albert Camus, Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Roses of Eyam by Don Taylor etc?

Read Pepys diary for 1665 – very prescient. Ditto Boccaccio Decameron which I loved.

Where are you sourcing your books/audiobooks from?

Ebay is a great source – often cheaper than Abebooks. and have been excellent for new books. And Kindle downloads of course.

Can you recommend up to 5 books/audiobooks that you have enjoyed/that have helped you during lockdown?

  1. Boccaccio Decameron – wonderful – yes I know I said I couldn’t read long books but this is really a series of short stories. A complete delight – with the life affirming message that even in a plague delicate wines, delectable  sweetmeats, music and sex keep one going!
  2. Christopher Fowler – his witty Bryant and May detective series. The plots are macabre and  the characters completely eccentric but the star of the series is London – so lovingly described I feel I am walking along those backstreets myself – just like I did in olden days ( one year ago!) Devoured them all – including the graphic novel.
  3. Christopher Fowler The Book of Forgotten Authors – for reminding me or stimulating me to read half remembered or neverheardof authors ( and thank you ebay )
  4. Nick Sharratt The Green Queen . I know it off by heart – and recite it to myself whenever I feel low and want to stay in bed all day. I may not have a scarf that is yellow and pink and turquoise and brown and orange and indigo but I have plenty of very jolly ones that do just as well!
  5. Has to be plenty of poetry – so a toss up between Heaven on earth:101 happy poems edited by Wendy Cope or 101 sonnets from Shakespeare to Heaney, edited by Don Paterson.


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