2020 has been quite the year so far, hasn’t it? What the hell happened? It was supposed to be our year, guys. Instead, it feels like we’re edging closer to our world being a dumpster fire, and all of the regular stresses have been blown through the roof. Even hobbies aren’t the same as they once were. Reading during a pandemic is entirely different from what reading during any other year would be.
While the world seems set to stab itself in the foot over and over again, there are things that we can do to ease some of the stress. I’ve seen all types of readers during the pandemic. There are people who are using the time to dive into their TBRs like nothing even matter and others who are struggling to read even a single page.
Don’t worry! There is a way to keep yourself on track if that’s what you’re looking for, but keep in mind that this is a pandemic. No one’s going to fault you for not hitting your reading goals this year.
But if you’re serious about wanting to hit that reading goal and if you’ve been in a slump, I’ve got 5 pandemic-proof ways that you can get yourself going again.
Productivity and Reading During a Pandemic
Unless you’ve been cut off from the rest of the world, I don’t need to tell you that the pandemic can knock your productivity on its ass. I’ve definitely been there. There are days when it’s hard to get myself to do anything even if I know that I have to. On those days, I try to read instead. Reading is one of those activities that I can tell myself is productive. I can’t do it with video games or binge-watching shows, but reading a book feels like an accomplishment to me.
If you’re the same way, you can use reading as a coping mechanism. After all, it can be a way to keep yourself distracted, but also feeling accomplished during the hardest times.
So how do you get yourself reading again?
1. Set yourself micro goals
I first found out about micro goals from my Fitness Pal. They’re basically bigger goals that have been broken down into smaller pieces. So maybe you want to finish a 400 page book. It sounds pretty terrifying, right? But if you break it down from “Finish a 400 page book” to “Read 20 pages a night”, it becomes more manageable.
There are days where even trying to read feels like too much. On those days, I’ll tell myself “Read 20 pages” or “Read one chapter”. Sometimes that’s all I’m able to manage and that’s where I stop reading for the day. Other days, I’ll get wrapped up in the story and read far past those goals.
Either way, there’s a feeling of accomplishment. Reading during a pandemic isn’t easy, so congratulate yourself for achieving a goal. Even if it’s just a few pages, you’re still moving forward.
2. Set aside space for reading
I live in a small apartment. It’s not a tiny box, but I do share it with a roommate. This means that the space I have to claim as my own is limited. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t create a reading space for myself. Whatever you decide to do with your reading space, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re not reading in the same space that you work.
If you’re sitting at the kitchen table to work? Read somewhere else. If you can go to a separate room, great! If not, then just switch it up so you’re either not facing your workspace or at least not sitting where you would to work.
I read in all sorts of places. Sometimes I’m on the couch, other times my bed, and I’ve even lay down on the floor and read. Just make sure that you’re keeping it separate from work energy or it won’t feel like an escape. Unless you’re reading a book for work. Then feel free to read it in your work space.
A quick note about reading on your bed. You shouldn’t do it, beds should be for sleeping. If you want to read on your bed though, just lie down the opposite way you would in your bed. So if I normally sleep with my head facing north? I’ll lie horizontally across the bed or turn 180 degrees so I can read that way. Then you’re not disturbing your sleep space either.
3. Choose your genres carefully
Remember that we’re in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic that has been shutting down entire countries all over the world. What you enjoyed previously might be triggering for you now. I’ve talked to more than one person who just can’t bring themselves to read books about disease or zombies. For some, dystopias have lost their shine.
If you feel lackluster about your regular books, try reaching out and trying something new. I normally stay away from romance, science fiction that involves motherhood, and historical fiction, but some of the best books I’ve read this year have been from those genres. Just like stepping outside your house once in a while is recommended, stepping outside your genres can be a breath of fresh air.
Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if it comes highly recommended.
Then, once your palate has been cleansed, you might find it easier to go back to your regular genres. Or you might want to stick with your new genre for a while. Do what feels best for you.
Reading during a pandemic is going to be deeply personal, so make sure to find what fits you rather than trying to match other people.
4. Don’t be afraid to abandon books
I know there are some people who really struggle with abandoning books that they don’t like, but this is the perfect time to start doing that. Or at least give yourself the leeway to put the book down and come back to it later. Forcing yourself to keep reading a book that you’re slogging through can cause slumps in normal years.
But this isn’t a normal year. This is 2020, the year where everything falls flat.
So in the spirit of being kind to yourself, just let yourself stop reading books you don’t like. And if you really can’t do that, then either pause or use micro goals. When I really had to read a book I disliked, I would set a small goal per day and then reward myself with something I liked. This pandemic, that’s been half an hour of Animal Crossing for me, but choose what you like.
5. Remember how to have fun with it
If you’re like me and finding it hard to keep your productivity up, you run the risk of letting reading become a chore. While you can use reading as a coping mechanism, don’t let it become a second job. There are plenty of groups on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Discord that are filled with book readers. Start chatting with them!
Join a readathon or start watching booktubers. Find fun book crafts you want to do or create a pinterest moodboard of beautiful book covers. Remember that reading is both fun and fundamental. You never want to drain all the fun out of holding a book.
I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures during this pandemic has been buying new books one by one or little bookish goods. When I was unemployed and didn’t have the extra money to spare, I would place holds at the library instead. It wasn’t as powerful a thrill, but it still worked. Just find what works for you!
Do you have any suggestions or are there things you think I’ve missed? Leave a comment below. Or if you want more posts like this? Sign up today and never miss a post!