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Reading In The Time Of COVID

I love reading! Since the Coronavirus shut down schools on March 13th, I’ve read just short of 100 books. I will read anything, but mystery/suspense/edge-of-your-seat thriller books are my favourite! I’ve noticed some unexpected changes in my reading behaviours over the past four months.

I find myself fearful every time a character gets close to another character, enters a busy restaurant, or goes to a large gathering. I will often say to myself, “What about the Coronavirus! Why is this character taking the risk?” Then I’m reminded that this book was written pre-Coronavirus. Holding hands, hugging, gathering with friends, sporting events, weddings, and concerts were not cancelled back then. There was nothing to be worried about. I know that I’m reading fiction. I understand that many of the frightening scenarios described in the pages of these books would never happen in real life. And yet, even when the plot line is an extreme example of make believe, it’s the physical contact and closeness of the characters that terrify me the most. The question is though, should the Coronavirus become part of fiction, or does reading fiction, allow us to escape this reality?

I find a bigger need for some light reading. My favourite mystery and suspense novels are not difficult reads, but I used to be able to insert more professional reads into the mix. I’ve only read about four professional books in the past four months, and sometimes even the thrillers become too intense for me. This has never happened before. I find myself craving a book that makes me laugh. That I can read without really thinking about. An escape. I wonder if the stress of these past four months has me looking at reading in a different way. I haven’t lost an interest in books, but what I need from a book has changed.

How have your reading behaviours changed in the time of COVID? Has this extended to your viewing (e.g., TV or movie watching) and/or playing (video games) behaviours? I wonder if these changes are for the long run, or if in time, we’ll all go back to how things were before. Depending on the reality of the next few months, maybe there are more changes in store. I do hope that somehow or other, I can continue to enjoy a good book, even if something as simple as a gentle touch may now cause me additional stress.

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