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Reading in Scotland: What was Scotland reading?
During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Scottish Book Trust set out to discover what impact the lockdown was having on readers in Scotland.
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(this will open in a new window) is available to read now.
Each week we asked our panel to tell us what they had read that week. Over the eight weekly surveys we received 1241 responses to this question, with many containing two, three, four or more answers.
When we first starting working on Reading in Scotland, we imagined that we might be able to track the mood of the panel by looking for common threads and themes – a definite shift from crime to classics, or non-fiction to poetry perhaps. We were very quickly disabused of this notion – of the 1241 responses only a handful of books were mentioned by more than one panellist. These were mostly either high-profile new releases (or others in the same series), or books linked to current events.
- The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
- Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
- Wolf Hall, Bringing up the Bodies, and The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
- Lockdown by Peter May
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
Whilst these titles were included in perhaps 10% of responses, the other 90% were almost entirely unique. They included:
- Classics like Middlemarch, Anna Karenina and Ulysses
- Crime titles such as I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Smoke and Ashes and a variety of Agatha Christie novels
- Children's and YA books like Anne of Green Gables, They Both Die at the End and James and the Giant Peach
- Non-fiction, ranging from cookbooks to Formula One via the Beastie Boys
- Short stories by Maeve Binchey, Chris McQueer and Raymond Carver to name just a few
- Poetry by Edwin Morgan, Hollie McNish, Michael Pederson and many others
- Newspapers and magazines, both online and in print
While we were not able to track the mood of Scotland through it's reading materials, we were heartened to be reminded that there is not just one type of reader, just as there is not one type of book. Whether you read for relaxation, reassurance or to learn and be challenged, there is a book (or poem, article, short story, newspaper or magazine…) out there for just for you.
Want to share what you're reading? Add your current favourite to our Book Week Scotland reading map!