Reading in a Pandemic

Tips for reading when the world is not thriving

Reading in a Pandemic

So, we are all well aware by now that the world is not doing too well. Things aren’t great to say the least. We are living in an anxiety fuelled time, which doesn’t make creativity or concentrating particularly easy. Lots of people have been expressing their struggles with reading over the past few weeks, and I really relate. Studying English Literature as my degree means I couldn’t afford to stop reading completely, so I have had to come up with strategies to keep myself absorbing the words. Today, I want to share some of these tips in the hopes that maybe it will help a few people get reading again!

1. Be patient and forgiving with yourself. It is perfectly understandable that your brain is going ‘no thanks boo’ when presented with a book; it is too busy trying to process everything changing around us. Give yourself a little internal hug and tell yourself that it is okay to find reading difficult at the moment.

2. Maybe avoid reading things that increase your panic. As much as The Handmaid’s Tale is an excellent novel, dystopian fiction may not be the most reassuring at the moment. Perhaps save it for a rainy day and pick up something that can act as an escape for the panic.

3. Re-read a book you know you love. For me, I re-read the entirety of the Vampire Academy series because it is a guilty pleasure read of mine that I know I love. It helped me find enjoyment again in reading, and it removed the brainpower involved in comprehending the plot of a completely new book.

4. Read something ‘less intimidating’. The idea of a ‘less intimidating’ read will differ for each person, but for me it is something short and plot-driven. Ideally, a gripping book with accessible language and a low page count. If I can fly through it, it will help me get back into the reading mood, rather than feel like I am wading through mud by reading a long and complex 700-page novel!

5. Try something outside of your usual reading material. Do you usually read fiction? Why not try non-fiction? If reading your favourites is not working for you then perhaps you need something new to spark your interest. Think of it as a great opportunity to find a new favourite genre or writer!

6. AUDIOBOOKS WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIENDS. I swear by audiobooks when I am in a regular reading slump, so they are IDEAL at the moment! There are lots of free audiobooks on the Apple podcast app and on YouTube or start an audiobook subscription service! They still require your attention, but they remove the physical act of reading and free up your time to multi-task. And that leads us onto my next tip…

7. Make reading mindful and relaxing. I love listening to audiobooks while colouring in the evening. I find the whole process therapeutic and relaxing. You could also read in the bath, listen to an audiobook while cooking, or maybe even while on a walk or run!

8. Try changing up your reading routine. I began reading in small instalments before bed and first thing in the morning. Reading in small bursts made the process less intimidating and I felt positive seeing myself make steady progress through a book. I also like to read while I eat breakfast, so I start my morning off by avoiding using my phone, and getting a few pages in!

9. Treat yourself to a new (and preferably second-hand) book. Consider buying yourself a new book as an act of self-care. Buying yourself a book you really want might be enough to spark your excitement and draw you out of your reading slump.

10. Accept that your progress will fluctuate. Some days, you might power through a whole book. Other days, you will stay in bed and binge-watch a whole series of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Both are acceptable ways to spend your time.

Know when to stop trying for a bit. I am a firm believer that reading should primarily be enjoyable and fun. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is give yourself a break and come back to it when you feel up to it!

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Brooke Le Breton
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