Comfort reading helped author Megan Nolan make it through 2020, but now it’s time for a return to hard-won rewards
I don’t set myself quantitative reading targets. I read as I live, compulsively and without much planning, which means that I average out at about a hundred books a year, mostly fiction. In terms of sheer mass I do fine, it’s just that I often remember almost nothing about them once I’ve finished. I read a lot, but very poorly. This has never been more evident than in 2020, when my tendency to either read nothing or to binge thoughtlessly was crystallised.
Almost two months went by in which all I could read were tweets, the news and despairing emails from friends. I could not listen to music or watch films with any focus, either. By the time summer came I had begun to read again, in fitful jags and a spirit of mania rather than relaxation or contemplation. I read dozens of thrillers in one particularly stressful week, completing the back catalogues of some fairly prolific authors, and could not have told you much about them by the following morning.