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Out & About: Reading provides helpful respite during pandemic

  • Liz Sauchelli. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/15/2020 9:11:04 PM
Modified: 4/17/2020 9:07:03 AM

While browsing through the e-books available through the New Hampshire State Library’s collection earlier this week, I came across a title that immediately made me pause: How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You, a book illustrated and written by Matthew Inman, who also authors the popular blog The Oatmeal. I knew I had to read it.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has started, my reading habits have changed. I’ve abandoned nonfiction books about World War I battles and biographies about historic figures. Names and places blurred together. I reread the same pages — and then the same chapters — over and over again. Novels with intense subject matter caused a similar response.

Instead, I’ve turned to lighter works of fiction and am currently making my way through The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, which has me laughing out loud.

I am not alone in my reading habits.

“People seem to want a book that will draw them into another place — either to be entertained or educated,” Norwich Bookstore co-owner Liza Bernard said in an email last week. In fiction Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light, Lily King’s Writers & Lovers and Emily St John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel have been popular among customers while in nonfiction Erick Larson’s The Splendid & the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz is a favorite. Readers have also been requesting more mysteries.

Kate Schaal, director of the Quechee/Wilder Libraries, said in an email that Larson’s World War II tale is the most requested nonfiction book, “fitting the bill for that era and speaking of resiliency in the face of extreme threat.”

Amy Lappin, deputy director of Lebanon Public Libraries is listening to Larson’s book as well as reading a mystery by Iona Whishaw and Alexis Coe’s George Washington biography You Never Forget Your First. The top digital title readers have checked out is Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum by Michael McCreary. Children’s favorites Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle round out the top three.

Whatever your interests, consider picking up a book while you’re social distancing. As for me, I’ll continue to hunt down humorous books for a much-needed laugh at the end of every day.




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