As a writer and a reader, I was saddened in particular by the closure of bookshops during the summer lockdown, but I don’t think this meant that people read less. Although we were denied the enjoyment of browsing in our favourite bookshop, books could be bought online. I started looking at all the many books I possess, some of which – to my shame – have never been read. In our homes most of us have many books that we bought over the years and subsequently have not had the time or inclination to read. This year we have the time – because so many other activities and leisure pursuits have been denied to us – and we should at least try to arouse some enthusiasm to tackle tomes and classics that we have so far managed to avoid. (Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” – yes, I have read it and it’s marvellous! “Bleak House” by Dickens – no I still haven’t – the title that puts me off!) )
Yesterday lockdown restrictions came into force in Ireland and people were asked to stay at home and non-essential shops were told to close. Some of us would argue that books are essential but, whilst it’s true that you can ‘devour’ them, you cannot actually eat them. Tomorrow Wales are entering a “firebreak” lockdown where people are again advised to stay at home. England will be next. Now that windy and wet autumn weather is upon us, we will have time again to sit down with some good books. Or lie down – I find that much of my reading is done early in the morning lying in bed, awake and fresh.
This year, having read some wonderful fiction, I found the book that most inspired and made me want to get out and act was “Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm” by Isabella Tree. I learnt so much from it (for example I was completely riveted by a whole chapter on soil!) Books, whether imaginative fiction or fascinating non-fiction, can change our lives – and they should.