With an electronic device constantly tethered to our hands and a never-ending rabbit hole of digital content and social media, many of us find ourselves “scanning,” but not really “reading.”
As we are all stuck inside during this quarantine time, this is an ideal – and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime – moment to rediscover the art of truly reading a great book. The doors of opportunity that open to you once you allow yourself the time and the peace to read are limitless.
There truly is nothing like imagery that a good book creates, the freedom in imagination that a good book allows for. I believe a well-written book or article is one that provides much imagery and great descriptive words, but not too much. There is a happy medium for this.
Of course what makes a book “good,” is very subjective, an opinion that varies from person to person. It also depends on what your preferred genre is, and where you are in life. You may pick up a book and be repulsed by it, but go back to it a few months or years later, and end up loving it. It may just be a matter of what resonates with you at that time.
One book I’ve recently read (and loved) was Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler. It’s based on a true story of a girl who gets up and moves from Indiana to New York City on a whim, gets a job in a highly-rated restaurant, her journey in learning the restaurant world, plus a twisted love story mixed in.
On getting into reading, my good friend who has been a bookworm all her life, advises newbie readers –
“Find a topic you like, find books related to that topic. If you see a movie that you really enjoyed, try reading the book version of it. If watching Criminal Minds or murder mysteries entice you, read true crime books. If you like watching romance movies like Dear John, read the actual book, or another romance novel. Don’t try to start with a classic.
Most of them are hard to read, especially if you’re new to reading. It honestly annoys me how some people put such high emphasis on reading classics. Reading classics does not make you any more an experienced reader than anyone else. No person who wants to get into reading should start right away with a classic book.”
I interviewed Rebecca Dowling of the Hockessin BookShelf, one of the area’s few remaining independent bookstores, about her love for books, and why now especially, is a great time to pick up a good book –
What do you love most about reading?
You can travel anywhere you want with a book!! That is so important right now as we socially distance and practice shelter-in-place. You can curl up with a book in your house and essentially time travel! You can go on a long walk with an audio book – 2 for 1 escapism, you can create story times in your own house with your kids and all the stuffed animals!, watch one of the many online story times that are being offered and have family read aloud time. Books are just a really wonderful boredom-busting tool!
What do you suggest to people that have trouble finding a book they like, or keeping attention in a book?
Don’t be afraid to put down & pick up later! I am a firm believer in “right book, right time.” Sometimes the two don’t mesh and then a month or even a year later, it’s like all the pieces fit and that book is just what you need. When listening to audiobooks, try sampling first to make sure that you want to hear the reader for the long haul – some audiobooks are over 25 hours of listening!
Suggestions for establishing a reading routine?
Right now, it may be nice to start and end your day disconnected from reality a bit. So give yourself permission to read a chapter in the morning with your coffee before checking the news. Let yourself disconnect from your reality by jumping into another world right before bed. Personally, I love reading at lunch – it slows down my eating, and allows me to take a break from my to-do list and my monkey mind thoughts. For parents and kids – what’s better than bedtime stories?!
Some of your favorite books or books you’d suggest to newbie readers –
I am a contemporary literature reader. Recently I’ve really enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore, There, There by Tommy Orange, The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. My main suggestion for new readers is to just jump in and don’t be afraid to try anything, you never know what might be the next great book for YOU! It’s truly different for everyone.
Why is now a great time to pick up a book and support local bookstores?
Bookstores, restaurants, gift stores – your local store fronts are your neighbors and have been here for you through all the tough times. This is the scariest time I’ve ever experienced as a small business owner, and I am afraid that some businesses will not survive the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and that is really sad. So if you can’t go out but need some goods please try to even shop local online first. It’s pretty amazing to see what stores have been doing. Curbside pick-up & deliveries, exclusive take-out menus, even going live with their story times as a way to keep the community together, yet safe!
What are your best-selling books?
Psychological Thrillers are still very popular. Books like The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. This trend has lead readers directly into a resurgence of True Crime, such as Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe. The true crime trend is also being driven by true crime podcasts popularity. For kids, you can’t go wrong with The Narwhal books by Ben Clanton or the Dog Man books by Dav Pilkey. This season’s picture books for the little ones are so great! Beautiful, funny & alot about voting. One of our favorites is Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots, by Michael Rex.
Do you notice a preference between hardcover and paperback?
Hardcovers are selling, across the country, better than they have in years. People just simply like the physical book, there’s no getting around it. But again, a trend we are seeing sustain itself is the growing popularity of Audio Books. Partnerships like Libro.fm Indie Bookstore can compete and often do better than other sources for Audio Books.
Still can’t get into reading? Try an audiobook! Libro.fm, https://libro.fm/hockessin is quite similar to Audible, but using the app directly supports your local bookshops. Use code SHOPBOOKSTORESNOW and get two audiobooks for the price of one, and 100% of your payment will go to Hockessin Bookshelf.
Also, due to the current pandemic, Hockessin BookShelf has partnered with Bookshop.org, an online bookstore platform that allows you to still support your local bookstores while still practicing social distancing!
Make sure to follow @Hockessinbookshelf on Instagram and Facebook #ShopBookstoresNow