With our return to ‘normal’ life seeming to stretch out further and further into the distance, our day-to-day life can seem uncertain and often times despondent. I know one thing I have found comfort in during this pandemic is reading literature; fiction or non-fiction, contemporary or historical- just anything that helps me put my phone down for an hour and stop reading every doomsday notification from the perpetual news cycle.
And I’m not alone, I read an article this week that stated over 200-million print books were sold in the UK in 2020, the first time since 2012. It seems we are all finding some relief in the escapism reading literature offers. More than a simple boredom breaker or a healthier alternative to staring at a screen all day, reading fiction provides respite from our rather surreal reality.
Becoming consumed by a narrative has helped me recover a sense of continuity when I’ve felt adrift, provided a space to become mindful and reflect on the issues or topics raised in the text, and often just provided a much-needed laugh. I think this is a unique ability of literature, and the arts- they help to heal culture. We look to literature and the arts to reflect on what it means to be human, and in these bizarre times this function is of particular significance. Literature and the arts provide an antidote to the isolation and hopelessness we can all relate to nowadays, ultimately helping us reconnect with ourselves and one another. For me, more time to read over this past year has been my silver lining.