With plenty of time on my hands, I have found it easier to read more demanding literature

Contributor: Kathryn Jennings

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

I have found more time to read during lockdown and enjoyed reading whilst relaxing in my garden over the summer months. I usually just read during my commute on the train under normal circumstances. 

Has lockdown affected your choice of reading material?

Yes. I have read more classic literature books during lockdown. With plenty of time on my hands, I have found it easier to read more demanding literature. I have also continued to read a good amount of historical fiction.

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

No.

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

As I have been unable to do my usual hobbies, such as church bell ringing, I have read more instead as an alternative way to provide a break from day-to-day stresses. I also completed Couch to 5K over the summer, which has benefitted my mental as well as physical health during a challenging time.

Have you been finding it harder to concentrate during lockdown?

I haven’t experienced much difference in my concentration levels during lockdown. I have made a point of taking regular exercise, however, which has improved my ability to focus whilst working from home. I am also fortunate to have a room I can use to work in without distraction. In fact, I found it possible to complete an online course through FutureLearn on the history of the book during the first lockdown, something I probably would not otherwise have done. 

Have you started books and been unable to finish them?

No.

Where do you get inspiration for titles? 

Suggestions usually come from family, friends and colleagues. Working as a library professional creates plenty of opportunities to talk about books and receive recommendations from others. I also enjoy browsing bookshops to discover the latest releases and reading reviews on the website Goodreads. 

Where are you sourcing your books/audiobooks from?

I would usually borrow books through Cambridge University Library or my local public library, but with access to libraries much restricted I have been purchasing more books online than usual. 

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

I don’t have a pile of unread books, but I have purchased titles that have been on my list of books I want to read for some time. I finally got round to reading Jamaica Inn and couldn’t put it down!

Have you been listening to audiobooks rather than reading? If so, does listening add something to your experience of the book that you wouldn’t get by reading it yourself?

I prefer reading physical books than listening to audiobooks, as I find I absorb more details of the storyline. However, I have listened to more podcasts during lockdown. One I have particularly enjoyed is You’re Dead to Me, a history podcast on BBC Sounds. 

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?

No, although Love in the Time of Cholera is on my to-read list!

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

Jamaica Inn (Daphne Du Maurier) – well-written, mysterious and atmospheric. This is my favourite lockdown read. 

Mythos (Stephen Fry) – a witty and entertaining retelling of Greek Mythology. Great for building knowledge of the Greek Myths. This was recommended by a family member. 

An Officer and a Spy (Robert Harris) – a gripping spy thriller, set in France and based on the Dreyfus Affair. I bought this online after reading the reviews on Goodreads. I would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction. 

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