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A call for engrossing and immersive reads at the time of Coronavirus

31st March 2020

Call for engrossing and immersive reads at the time of Coronavirus.

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet” Jhumpa Lahiri

Most of us are now a couple of weeks into lock down because of the Coronavirus and here at TripFiction we are wondering how everyone is coping with their reading? And reading for pleasure in particular, are habits changing?

I am sure we have all imagined a time when we could spend a couple (and more) weeks of doing exactly what we please and having all the time in the world to read! Now many of us are at that point but that unadulterated reading pleasure comes at a premium for many.

(Artist Unknown) (after American Gothic by Grant Wood, 1930)

We have been chatting to readers and writers on Social Media about this very subject and we enquired how everyone is adjusting and coping at this very difficult time.

For many authors staying at home is not an unusual state. But what is different is that  in many cases there are now young family members at home with them too, demanding attention and input. Other authors, however, have seen little change in their routine and continue as per usual in splendid social isolation.

Readers are having a variety of responses. Some are reading more, some struggle to concentrate. “I’ve been reading less, due to lack of concentration” says JeanPortley. Usual genres sometimes don’t hit the nail on the head and some have got round that by trying something new. Others have gone back to comfort reads that have served them well over the years; indeed, there is nothing wrong with a good re-read of favourite books, ones that “can be counted on like old friends“. Many are searching out uplifting and feel-good titles whilst others are actively seeking post apocalyptic and dystopian titles – I have noticed a lot of people are reading Albert Camus’ “The Plague“. And many are chatting more with family and friends via Skype and Zoom 9 (I’m reading less, as spending so much time virtual communicating with friends and family, says EmmabBooks).

Some people have dropped off Social Media because the updates are coming through just a little too fast and too often and are adding stress to an already fraught situation. Others are finding their creative mojo and creating on-line book groups, virtual book launches and working on Facebook Live, giving the opportunity for other readers and authors to engage and interact.  Ingenuity is always a bonus at crucial times and will serve many well – and this will continue right into the future, when things will be very different.

Hoopoe Fiction posed a very good question “Are you reading more foreign fiction because of travel restrictions?”. Well, are you?

HousElf on Twitter stated that with great books you are able to escape the house and go anywhere. And I guess that is something we at TripFiction know all about 😉

Those people who are home schooling are finding themselves reconnecting with children’s books and by bedtime, after a full day of childcare, it’s time for sleep rather than indulgent reading time. You gain on the one hand but lose on the other.

A very common thread is that people are buying lots of books, EVEN THOUGH they already have a stack. “I always book hoard” says authoraj66; “I’ve bought 12 (why when I have a house full of bks!!) for lockdown” says malleegirl57. Sadly today we learn that engrossing and immersive reads at the time of CoronavirusGardners, the distributor used by many indie bookshops, has today temporarily stopped sending out physical books to bookshops due to concerns about the Coronavirus. This of course means that smaller bookshops don’t have access to books, although digital copies are of course unaffected.

But the most common feedback is that readers want to find a title that will be engrossing, riveting and immersive. Something basically that will transport and take your mind off the current situation. Some books just aren’t cutting it for readers, so, why don’t we use this as a thread to share reading responses and let’s suggest books that have REALLY been immersive and you would like to suggest to like-minded readers. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, you might just suggest something that changes someone else’s day!

I will start: I am struggling to find the levels of concentration I used to have but found “Dear Child” by Romy Hausmann, a good escapist read, set in Bavaria. Coming 14.5.20

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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