One of the few silver linings of the multiple lockdowns across the past 15 months, was a significant and unexpected amount of free time at home. At first it was an overwhelming amount of free time – but gradually, people found their own way to fill it and help them get through a difficult time.
With no work commute and extra time spent at home, people across the country seized the opportunity to find new interests, such as baking, exercise, online virtual parties and quizzes, crafting, gaming – the list goes on.
With the recent annual profits report from Bloomsbury Publishing showing that book sales rose by 14% in the year to the end of February, it is clear that many found comfort and solace in picking up a good old book, and reading for pleasure.
The pandemic has been a challenging time for many, and the escapism of a good book enabling readers to explore someone else’s mind, experiences and story, gave us a release from the reality of the day-to-day of lockdown and rising Covid-19 cases. There’s no denying that reading has a positive effect on your mental health and can be a great way to practice mindfulness. A 2015 report from Quick Reads showed that reading helps to reduce stress levels and improve wellbeing – all the more vital against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
Valeria Luiselli, recent winner of the Dublin literary award, shared in a Guardian piece last week that, “Fiction is one of the most pleasurable of human activities” and at Stand, we’re inclined to agree.
As keen advocates for reading for all ages, our experience working with The Reading Agency has helped to spread the joy of reading with a broader audience. During our four-year partnership, we repositioned the charity, managed their press office and implemented creative campaigns. Tackling life’s biggest challenges through the proven power of reading was our strategic answer – one they still use now.
Our support of the Women’s Prize for Fiction focused on making this acclaimed prize more accessible. We debunked the view the winning books were just for women, challenging this thinking with the line written by women, read by everyone. We highlighted the Prize’s unique platform for women’s voices and storytelling, and in its 25th anniversary year in 2020, launched the #ReadingWomen campaign – a reading challenge to encourage the nation to read all previous Prize winners.
At Stand, our love of reading goes beyond client work. We launched our own Book Club during lockdown. We meet every two months to chat about our book of choice, explore its themes, and how it made us think and feel. These discussions are about colleagues at all levels sharing opinions, favourite plots and views on their most hated/ liked characters. We’re a curious bunch, and are especially looking forward to discussing our next book, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which takes us on a journey of one person’s ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have beens’.
Looking for reading inspiration to get you through these final weeks of Covid restrictions? Take a look at our Book Club’s recent reads and recommendations:
- Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
- The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Daré
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
- A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes
- Lanny, Max Porter