“You get paid to read?” “You get invited to those fancy book parties in movies?” “You haven’t had to pay for a book in how many years?!” These are all questions I’ve fielded from book-loving friends and strangers upon hearing that part of my job is reading and writing about books. And while I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do so (my third-grade self would just about die if she could see me now), I have a confession: During this quarantine, I’ve been embarrassingly delinquent about reading.
I know, I know. Now is the perfect time to dig into the new Curtis Sittenfeld or work my way through the recently announced Pulitzer Prize-winners. But reader, my attention span during this pandemic is, in a word, shot.
Every time I sit down to start a new book, my mind immediately wanders to all of the lower stakes things I could be doing instead. I find myself having to reread passages multiple times to fully comprehend. I'll also note that I'm not not reading because I'm too busy with kids or anything (huge shoutout to parents); it's just me, myself and I—and a pretty free schedule—and I still can't bear to dive into a buzzy fiction or gripping biography. I'm not proud of this, but most times, I'll abandon the book I'm trying to read for Netflix, Instagram or...TikTok. (I said I'm not proud.)
Turns out, I’m not the only one. My mom, Ellen, who made it a goal last year to read more, has found it hard to focus on the lives of fictional characters. “There’s too much to think about in the real world,” she told me. “I don’t need a whole made-up universe to worry about at the same time.” PureWow’s senior SEO editor, Alexia Dellner, is reading children’s books during quarantine. Yes, she’s reading them to her son, but she tells me that the kid-level words and pictures are giving her mind a much-needed break—a break she wouldn’t get with a 700-page tome about the British monarchy in the 17th century.