Reading Through a Pandemic

I read an article way back in the past (about June 2020, so at least 500 years ago) that talked a lot about how this pandemic is affecting reading habits and motivation for readers. The general consensus was that EVERYONE was in a reading slump. The article sugggested that there were three solutions.

  1. Read the feel good books and stay away from the darker, heavier material.
  2. Don’t read and don’t beat yourself up about it.

And in a bizarre, but shockingly logical twist……

3. Lean into the pandemic. Read the pandemic and dystopian fiction.

I started listening to the audiobook for The Stand in December 2019. Intitially, I had a hard time getting into it. Depression was hitting me hard and the ability to sit and do one thing for an extended period of time had left me entirely. This book is a behemoth! The audiobook is 48 hours long and not one single bit of it will ever be considered light reading. It just overhwhelmed me in so many ways. I set it aside not quite a quarter of the way through.

Fast forward to March 2020. The lockdown was looming and life was about to change in ways I had never considered. My day job as a bank teller was considered essential. We split our team and alternated the weeks that we worked. Suddenly, I had copious amounts of time on my hands. The Stand became one of my daily rituals. There was a mixture of anxiety and dread most days, but in the end it kind of lessened my stress about what was happening around me. Eventually, I just kept coming back to “well it could be THAT bad I guess.” Pretty soon, I was through the book.

One of my January 2021 reads was a second read through of The Stand. I have been through a lot of trauma from Stephen King in my days…I read Pet Sematary afterall, but there is this thing that happens with his writing. I get through it the first time. I enjoy it. The second time, I live it. I unpack it. I process it. The Stand is a great example of a book that I dove into and really LISTENED to the second time through.

Stephen King has a super power. He seamlessly and subtly weaves together the universe his books live in. You don’t necessarily realize it in the first few books you read, but his characters and places have a way of popping up when you least expect them.

How did the pandemic change your reading? What authors did you discover or connect with during these volatile months?

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