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Reading is an ideal experience in quarantine

By Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
September 29, 2020

While it didn’t get headlines in 42-point type, the New York Times had an interesting statistic in the Sunday edition the week before last. The paper said, “After the steep drop at the start of the pandemic, book sales not only recovered but surged.” They went on to say that unit sales of print books were up six percent over last year. And added that people were buying so many books that the biggest printers in the country couldn’t keep up. Their conclusion was that reading is an ideal experience in quarantine.

Sad that it took a pandemic but rediscovering reading is a valuable experience for our civilization. And it’s something everyone can do. There are book stores and libraries. You can buy a paper, digital or audio version of a book. In fact, audio sales had been doing well prior to the pandemic. There are librarians, book store owners, and your friends to help you pick out books. So what to read? Here are a few suggestions.

Try a new genre, something you don’t usually pick up. If you don’t read nonfiction, you might try Alex Trebek’s new memoir, “And The Answer Is…” If you don’t like history, you might read Hilary Mantel’s early study of Thomas Cromwell, “Wolf Hall.” If you’ve never read science fiction, you might try almost anything by the dean of the genre, Isaac Asimov.

The Amelia Community Theatre is doing a one woman show on Erma Bombeck. Brush up ahead of time by reading the humor she created out of every day life. Comedy is one of the toughest genres to write. A lot of writers can do a few one-liners, but not many can spin it into an engaging book.

And here’s a little secret – it’s okay to reread. Why would you want to read something you already read? Some plots don’t have a lot of staying power in our brains so when you reread, you may have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s obviously better to reread something you know you enjoyed the first time, even if you can’t remember why. That said, sometimes you are not at the right place or time in your life to enjoy a book. Why not give it another try?

The best reason to reread and the one that makes the most sense in COVID-19 times is to re-enter a world you loved in the past. And unlike life, you very often can go home again to the world of a book you enjoyed. Re-entering the world of that sort of book is going back to a familiar place where you know you’re going to feel at home and enjoy yourself. And these days, that is a rare gift.

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