Reading During Lockdown | Jo Linsdell

Reading During Lockdown

Reading During Lockdown: How have our reading habits changed since COVID

Reading During Lockdown

How have our reading habits changed since COVID

I was thinking recently about how it's been around a year now since COVID became common knowledge and changed the world as we knew it. The effects of the pandemic have been felt across the globe over the past year in a variety of ways.

Here in Italy we were among the first to go into lockdown. From 4th March 2020 we didn't leave our apartment at all for over 3 months (only my husband went out to food shop). 

Back then we partied out on our balconies to keep up moral and hoped it would all be back to normal again soon. Now we have a new normal. Life has become a strange mix of those months in our bubble and our old, pre-Covid lives. It's hard to imagine it ever going back to how it was before all this started. 

Anyway, I digress. Whilst I was thinking back over this past year I realised that my reading habits have changed over the course of the year.

In the beginning life was hectic as I struggled to get my kids organised with online learning, and adjusted to lockdown. I suddenly had plenty of time at home, but not much free time to spend reading... my kids made sure of that.

Even when I did manage to find the time, I often found I just wasn't in the right frame of mind/mood to read. I had trouble concentrating and so often opted to binge Netflix instead of reading a book. I've probably watched more TV in the past year than in the past 10 years combined. 

This got me wondering if others had seen a change in their reading habits since COVID started too. So, I did some research on Google. Turns out it wasn't just me.

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The Guardian did an article about research showing reading books surged in lockdown.

The Bestseller also did an article but this one was about research showing readers were not buying more books.

Both articles made a lot of sense and raised some good points but I wanted to dig deeper. 

Researching Reading Habits During Lockdown

I decided to do some research of my own into the subject and asked my Twitter followers a series questions about their reading habits since COVID using the onsite polls feature.

Firstly I wanted to know if they were reading more, less or unchanged since COVID began

Despite 50.8% of those that voted in the poll said they were reading more since COVID started not everyone agreed.

@floralcars1 was also reading less, stating 
"I read considerably less because I always read on my commute but I am for half of the week in Home office so


Others like @malleegirl57 found they were purchasing more books but not reading them stating "I bought a lot, far more than I normally do, but weirdly read less. April last year I didn't start a single book, still finishing a couple from March. But I am now setting more time aside to read."

Then there were people who have seen a difference between when COVID first started and now.

Who was reading less before but has gone back to normal now like @storywhispers "Last year I was reading less, but this year I'm back to normal. I'm also reading more physical copies than ever before."

and who was reading more during lockdown but has since gone back their normal amount as the pandemic has improved in their area like @BewareTheBkwyrm "While everything was locked down I read about 20 books per month. Now that everything is getting back to normal, just with masks, I find I'm back to my average 6-8 books/month."

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The article I mentioned earlier from The Guardian said that "Readers... revealed their tastes have changed since the outbreak of Covid-19, with their interest in crime and thrillers, and other popular fiction, increasing. There was “currently little appetite” for dystopian fiction". 

Naturally I wanted to find out if my followers agreed. 

70.6% said no.

Next I asked about their current favourite genre to read

Unfortunately the poll feature on Twitter doesn't allow for many options so I choose dystopian (because the article had said "There was “currently little appetite” for dystopian fiction"), romance (the money maker genre), mystery/thriller (the genre that has supposedly grown considerably during COVID), and other (because I ran out of space and this was the easiest way to include other genres πŸ˜‰) for the options. 

31.6% voted for mystery/thriller, although I'm not surprised as that is also my favourite genre to read and so seems fitting that my followers may share the same taste in books. 

In the replies I found that people were still reading the same genres as before COVID. @JPL_Reader for example said they "Still love fantasy and sci-fi".

Proactive Writer did an article about the current most popular genres where they list; the most popular fiction genres, most popular non fiction genres, best selling book genres, book genres that make the most money, best selling audiobook genres, and weigh in on the least and most competitive book genres on Kindle. 

The other question I asked in my Twitter poll was about the format of the books they were reading. In particular, I was curious to know if they were reading more ebooks/audiobooks since COVID started.

48.3% said yes they were reading more ebooks/audiobooks and 31.3% were experiencing no change to before. 

Mint stated in their article about ebooks and audiobooks amid the covid pandemic that "The prolonged unavailability of physical books due to covid-19 led lockdown has led to an uptake of ebooks and audiobooks. Sale of ebooks have doubled from its low base and audio books have seen a big jump from a base lower than ebooks during the post lockdown era".

Fortune also confirmed "The e-book market had been in decline for the past six years, but now that it’s one of the easiest ways to get new books during the pandemic, libraries and publishers report a surge of new interest" in their article about ebook reading booming during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Reading During Lockdown How have our reading habits changed since COVID

How have your reading habits changed since COVID started? Are you reading more or less than before? Have your reading tastes changed during the pandemic? Are you reading more ebooks and audiobooks now?


  1. Excellent points made and thoughtful questions pondered. Loved this!

    1. Thanks DJ 😊 it was interesting to research and write about.

  2. This is so interesting to read and I am clearly the odd one out because not only do I read less than before but I mostly read dystopia at the moment πŸ™ˆ thank you for not only sharing the results but also explaining them in an easy manner :)

    1. Thanks Susanne 😊 I'm glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I'm sure there are lots of people still reading dystopian novels πŸ˜‰

  3. Loved this detailed deep dive into reading habits.. and I know I am certainly reading more/same as always but not less. :)

  4. This is a really interesting post. I know for me, I started to read more, but this is largely due to my job. Lots of folks think librarians read all day but the truth is for public librarians, we do not have the time to read on the clock. However, even now that we reopened for limited services, we now do have the time. I picked up a lot of projects at work that are centered on reading books - to interview authors, hold discussions, and create book lists. This allowed me to read both at home for fun and when I’m on the clock for my job. (Which is fun reading too!)

    1. Reading for work and fun... you are living the dream my friend!

  5. Great post and lovely to see how people were doing with their reading. According to bookshops over here they have had their best sales ever during the last year. Thanks for adding my quote. X

    1. My pleasure. Thank you for joining in my research.

      It's great that book sales have gone up, and that so many people are reading more.