We recruited a panel of people living in Scotland to complete regular surveys about their experiences of reading between March and August 2020. The full report, Reading in Scotland: Reading over lockdown is available to read now.
We found that many panellists were using reading to connect with family, friends and colleagues during the lockdown:
- 64% agreed that reading made them feel less isolated
- 46% reported speaking about reading with someone new and 63% agreed that reading had helped them bond with others
- 50% agreed that sharing their reading with family and friends made them feel less stressed
'Joining an online book group has been great. It was a huge relief to talk in detail about something that I'm interested in, something other than the current situation.'
Sharing books or chatting about stories is a great way to connect with others, especially when the breakdown in our routines might mean we have less than usual to discuss with friends or family - or would prefer to talk about something other than the pandemic for a little while. Many of our panellists reported that this helped them bond with others, take their minds off the news and relieve stress:
- 'I have done some remote book swaps with friends and family by post, which is nice because then we can discuss something other than the pandemic!'
- 'Reading stories on FaceTime to 5 year old grandson a new regular treat for us both'
- 'I very much enjoyed reading Girl, Woman, Other, recommended by a dear friend. It has been really nice to go back and discuss the book, and also knowing it had been picked personally with affection made it a really pleasant experience'
Our panel were sharing books and stories in all sorts of ways during the lockdown:
- Zoom book clubs were very popular as an alternative to the ubiquitous Zoom quiz!
- One panellist was reading a chapter of Middlemarch each day and discussing with a friend via WhatsApp
- Even something as simple as displaying a book in your window acted as a way to share reading and bring a wee bit of joy to passers-by
Each week our panel shared reading tips for us to pass on to the other panel members. Some of our favourites around sharing and connection include:
- 'My children's grandfather has been videoing himself reading short poems to send to us for the kids to listen to'
- 'I've had a request from my niece to continue doing Facebook live bedtime stories every evening'
- 'Reading aloud with friends via video is comforting at a stressful time. It's also been an unexpected way to stay connected with children who are missing friends and family members outwith their household during lockdown'