You haven’t been alone: we have been reading more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Print book sales rose 8.2% in the US in 2020, according to BookScan. It was the best year in a decade for hard copy book sales. But the trend didn’t stop there. Last year 825.7 million print books were sold by US publishers, 8.9% up over 2020.
And that’s without counting ebooks and audiobooks. According to a 2021 Pew Research study, print books are still the most popular format with 65% of those surveyed saying that they had read a print book in the past year. But the number of Americans who report reading ebooks has still gone from 25% to 30% since 2019.
“75% of U.S. adults say they have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, whether completely or part way through, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2011,” the study adds. So the pandemic didn’t necessarily convert many to the joys of a good book, but readers have been reading more.
Take a look at Goodreads. The social network for book worms has seen a steep increase in the number of readers participating in its reading challenge. The yearly competition, which logs how many books a user reads over the span of 12 months, had 4,384,114 participants in 2019. In 2020, there were 5,301,886 Goodreads users participating — almost one million more readers decided to take the challenge than in the previous year.
With the pandemic being a contributing factor when it comes to the increase in reading habits — it doesn’t get much more socially distanced than reading, after all — let’s make a point to keep reading in 2022, even though things may finally start going back to normal.
Here’s why you should keep reading this year, even if we hope there’ll be a thousand other things — concerts, theater plays, dinners with friends, trips — to do.
- We’ve already made a habit of reading more, be it on a Saturday afternoon by the fire — or while sunbathing in the park — or before bed at night. Let’s just keep the routine going.
- It doesn’t get more hygge than reading under a blanket or under a tree. And reading can still bring you all the cozy comfort you’ve been craving for these past two years.
- Reading is still the easiest, most convenient and cheapest way to get transported somewhere far off and stimulating. No need to suffer through long-haul flights, deal with jet lag or get lost in translation. Just choose the right book and travel vicariously through its characters. We have a few good recommendations.
- The possibilities are endless. You can learn about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, revisit a few classic science fiction books, immerse yourself in a dystopian novel to quench your thirst for more stories like Station Eleven, seek out the words of Indigenous writers or simply evade reality with some swoon-worthy romantic titles.
- You can educate yourself and broaden your views even with the light and fluffy page-turnery that is mass-market fiction. There’s a reason it’s popular; it’ll still keep you very much entertained.
- It’s very easy to try new things. By that I not only mean genre but format too. Never dipped a toe into graphic novels but always felt curious about them? Simply add one or two to your reading list.
- You don’t even have to read anymore. Just opt for the audiobook instead and listen to it while you drive, go for a stroll, do the dishes or try to fall asleep. Books can be the new podcasts.
- It’ll help you unwind at the end of the day. And you know that — even without a pandemic — life can still be challenging and exhausting.
- You can easily read two or three things at the same time and decide to ditch a book, leaving it unfinished, at any point. And what’s better — no one even has to know.
The pandemic may be about to end — or at least downgraded to endemic — but recently formed reading habits don’t have to end with it. Just keep up the good reading in 2022.