According to CTV News, more Canadians have been reading during the pandemic than before it started. It has created room for people to rediscover their childhood love for reading. Personally, though I’ve always loved reading, during the pandemic, I read more books than I ever had before. In 2019, I read 16 novels, as opposed to the 43 I read in 2020. This draw to books can be traced to the fact that they serve as an escape from our current reality and, in the case of non-fiction, open up doors for self-improvement.
One of the biggest reasons for this revival is the influence of social media, namely “BookTok” and “Bookstagram,” the collection of book-related content on TikTok and Instagram. This comes as no surprise considering social media is the easiest way to share interests and discover new ones. Even if you don’t find reading particularly entertaining, there’s a good chance you’ve seen titles like It Ends With Us or Red, White, & Royal Blue while cruising through Instagram or TikTok. I can say, with certainty, that social media drove me to read an array of novels, some of which I’ve passed by multiple times in bookstores over the years but never picked up. Books that were published years before the pandemic, like A Little Life (2015), They Both Die at the End (2017) and The Song of Achilles (2011), gained entirely new success and popularity thanks to their resurrection on various platforms. Today, social media is playing a role in the publishing industry unlike ever before.
Seeing people on social media reading so much and hyping up certain books makes us, who are watching on the other side of the screen, want to do the same. As a result, we buy those same books for ourselves and see if they live up to the hype or if they educate and/or entertain us in the way that we had hoped.
If you ask me, this increase in the number of people reading is fantastic — more people should be reading, for multiple reasons: it helps refine our vocabulary, teaches us general lessons about life and can be educational (see 5 Profound Life Lessons I’ve Learned From 5 Fictional Novels). It allows us to connect with various characters, as one does with movie or TV show characters, and it heightens our own creativity, among a variety of other reasons.
If you are planning on reading a bit more, consider buying from bookstores like Chapters or, even better, indie bookstores like TYPE Books or Another Story Bookshop. If you can, limit buying books from Amazon because it has the potential to damage the success of independent bookstores and the publishing industry as a whole. (This isn’t to shame anyone who buys books from Amazon; for many of us, it tends to be the most feasible option).
It’s nice to see that, despite all the darkness the pandemic has brought, there are a few lights, like the wondrous resurgence of reading in our lives. Hopefully, this is one thing that won’t change.