Escaping COVID-19 Through Books

by Brandi Hartsell

If you’re anything like me, you are currently experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. Schools across the state have been cancelled for the rest of the year. Some of us are delivering regular distance learning activities, some of us are sitting at home wishing we could contribute in some way, some of us are doing something in between. Yet all of us are likely experiencing stress, anxiety, loneliness, and boredom from time to time. We miss our students, our colleagues, and our libraries. Although we can find joy in the continued health of our families, extra time spent with our loved ones, and more time to relax or tackle those projects around the house we never have time for, sometimes it can all become a little too overwhelming. Sometimes we just need to escape. What better way than into the pages of a book? We asked TASL members to tell us what they are currently reading and why they are finding reading so important right now.

2F991104-D452-4CEB-92C3-FE3AABEA7741 - Erika Long
Erika Long from Thurgood Marshall Middle School is reading Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian. Erika says, “Reading during this uncertain time is a breath of fresh air, especially on rainy days when I can’t take a walk. Spending time with a book is time we don’t have to think or stress about our current situation.”
B3971B40-A159-493C-AE62-C5F6C47F5254 - Lindsey Kimery
Lindsey Kimery from Woodland Middle is reading From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. Lindsey says reading is important to her right now because, “When you jump into a book, you’re no longer stuck at home!”
Angela Frederick from Nolensville High School is reading The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Angela says she is currently finding reading important because, “It’s helpful to step into a totally different world and forget about the troubles we have now, even if it’s just for a little while.”
Brandi Hartsell from Halls High School is reading Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant Refugee Experience edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond. Brandi says, “I always find solace in a good book and it is even more vital during these trying times to be able to read and escape from the boredom, loneliness, and anxiety for just a little while.”

What are you currently reading? Tell us in the comments or on social media using #TASLCurrentlyReading.  How is reading providing an escape or solace for you right now?

On the flip side, it’s possible that the stress and anxiety around a disrupted world is making it difficult for you to find solace in reading right now. Personally, while I am still able to read pleasurably occasionally, I have found that my reading volume has significantly decreased. I would have expected my reading to increase as it usually does in the summer months when I don’t have as many work obligations. Donalyn Miller wrote a great article for School Library Journal about why many regular readers might find themselves struggling to find joy in reading right now. She also offers suggestions for how to kickstart yourself back into the reading habit.

No matter how your reading life is currently going, don’t worry,  books will always be here for you to return to. Find solace and escape when and where you can.


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