What do you read when you’re isolating or social distancing yourself from others to help prevent the spread of infection? How do you choose the appropriate reading material to help you “survive” your isolation? Should you read new editions or old favourites? What genres and topics to pick? What media to choose: books, e-books, audio books, comics, manga, magazines, fanfiction? The choices are unlimited and mayhap overwhelming… However, we also have to acknowledge the fact that in some parts of the world, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, libraries and book shops are closing down. So your choice of reading material can be limited.
The question now is not only what do I choose to read, but how do I access said reading material? Fortunately, today we have plenty of options because books, comics, manga and magazines don’t come only in their traditional paperback or hardcover forms, but other mediums as well. You can read and listen to books on your mobile phone, or computer, or you can have a dedicated e-reader for those activities. You can access and read magazines, manga and comic books on-line. All you need is a device and an internet connection to access them. However, some people prefer books, magazines, comic and manga in their traditional form and that’s fine. Ultimately the choice of medium is up to you, your situation and your reading preferences. If you can, you should read. 🙂
So what to read and how to choose? The obvious answer would be whatever you want and whatever you usually enjoy reading. However, I would like to make a few suggestions regarding this matter – what types of texts to look for and which ones to avoid. In my opinion. Feel free to disagree with me, but by now you should know that I firmly in the camp which believes that opinions are like asses – everyone has one. 🙂 Just please be polite in the comments, there’s no need for anyone to make this the hill they will die on. 🙂 OK?
Firstly, I’d choose a book that’s entertaining. A vague concept I know. 🙂 Because what is entertaining and interesting to me, might not be that to you and vice versa. Try to think about the books you usually gravitate to; what do you usually chose to read that’s entertaining to you? Now you have your starting point. And that leads us to my second suggestion – choosing a story that will draw you in. In other words a story that will make you forget the passing of time, you’ll start reading and at some point you’ll lift your head up and be surprised by how much time has passed! That’s the type of book you want to read when you’re quarantined at home. Lastly, try to find texts that you will engage with, the texts where you will feel something about the plot and the characters. You can love the characters, hate them, they can get on your nerves… The emotions that you feel towards the text can be positive or negative, it doesn’t really matter. Of course it would be preferable if you like and enjoy what you’re reading, but even negative emotions are better than no emotions at all. The worst thing that can happen when you’re reading something (in my opinion) is that you feel nothing at all and you keep wondering why did you spend time reading something so uninteresting. Yes, I know you can also wonder why on Earth did you spend your time reading a text you’re annoyed with or that you dislike, but at least that text sparked some interaction – so it’s kind of a win.
To sum up you should be looking for stories that will draw you in, entertain you and that you will engage with in whatever medium you chose. Now let’s look at some things that you should avoid in your reading choices. In my opinion of course. 🙂 First of all, quarantine is not a good time to start reading That BookTM that you started reading N times, but you never got to finish it for some reason or the other. Listen, listen I know what you’re thinking: I have plenty of time now that I’m in self-isolation! I’m gonna take That BookTM that’s judging me from my bookshelf because I didn’t finish it the last N times I started reading it… And I’m going to power through it like a champ this time! This time is the charm!
Let’s be real now, if you didn’t finish That BookTM the last how many times you started reading it there’s probably a pretty good reason for that. Maybe That BookTM isn’t really your jam and you should just move on to greener pastures. There’s plenty of books out there, no need to be hung up over something you’re clearly struggling with or you’re just not that interested. Don’t force yourself to read, reading is not a chore and you’re not reading That BookTM for a school assignment, you’re reading it in your own free time because you want to. So let’s not force ourselves to read things we don’t feel like reading, but we kind of think we need to because reasons…
Furthermore, I don’t think that self-isolation is the best time to start a book that deals with a difficult and/or sensitive subject, or books that deal with apocalyptic, dystopic, melancholic and tragic themes. Although, people are different and not everyone has the same reaction to a situation, or deals with a problem in the same way. For some, texts with those themes are welcome, because they’re cathartic and will help them to purge out negative emotions. And if you like reading texts that fall into the afore mentioned categories, or you’re usually reading them crack on. Personally, some of the mentioned themes are not my cup of tea, especially when I’m stuck in the house for an X amount of days. There’s enough of sad and bad things going on in the world anyway, I don’t have to read fiction on those subject while being stuck at home. Maybe some other time OK?
Now that I outlined what I would go for and what would I avoid like the plague 🙂 let’s get on to the question we’re all really interested in: fiction or non-fiction? My gut instinct is to go with fiction, it does tick all the boxes that need ticking, but on the other hand non-fiction books can be a great choice. There’s a lot of amazing non-fiction books about anything you can possibly imagine! Cooking, baking, knitting, makeup, calligraphy, woodwork, arts and crafts, DIY… Of course my particular interests in non-fiction gravitate toward history so I can’t help you in the cooking or knitting department. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll find some interesting suggestions on Goodreads. Regarding fiction chose your reading pile from the genres you prefer to read, but give new genres a chance too. Unless you really, really don’t have good experiences with that particular genre. Then by all means skip it; like I said earlier reading is not a chore and read what makes you happy.
Before I start my rapid fire recommendations let me give you a few more tips that I learned by participating in Dewey’s read-a-thon. Whatever texts you chose to read during this period of isolation make sure they vary; either in length, genre, or medium. Mix up your reading pile and make sure there’s enough variations to keep things interesting. To illustrate if you’re reading a large fiction or no-fiction book when you feel like you can’t concentrate on the text leave the book for a while. Take a break and do some housework. But doing housework doesn’t mean you can’t read. Put your headphones in, and listen to an audiobook. It’s a win-win situation: you’re doing what needs doing, and you’re reading at the same time! 🙂 If you’re not into audiobooks (you should give them a chance, they’re fun), why not pick up a comic book or a manga, or even a magazine? Diversify your reading. New editions or old favourites? That is the question. 🙂 Both? Why not both? 🙂 Mix in ye olde comfort pile with the new books on your Bottomless To Read ListTM to add variation to your reading. If you don’t like something you can always re-read that special comfort book you always come back to.
Since the text is already too long I’m going to finish this here. In the next blog post (which will be coming soon, I’ll link to it here as soon as I’m finished) I’ll bring you my reading recommendations. There’s a lot of them 🙂 since we have plenty of time. 😀 I hope you enjoyed this one and I’ll see you in the next one!