You read to avoid news of pandemics. Or you read to learn about pandemics.
You read to soothe yourself. Or you read to immerse yourself in new, enormous worlds.
Recently, I asked readers if this crazy year — the pandemic, lockdowns and social upheaval — was changing what you read. You said yes. You said yes to everything.
David Bornus, Shoreview: I had been accumulating a pile of books to read in retirement, but when libraries and bookstores closed it became a lifesaver. I’ve read down my piles several feet since March, including several series — the Ruth Ware novels, political biographies, novels by Anthony Quinn and a five-volume set of lectures on Martin Luther. I am feeling a great deal of satisfaction clearing away those piles.
Ian Krouth, St. Louis Park: I have a large to-read shelf so I thought myself well-equipped when lockdown began. Then I realized that half of my fiction pile was dystopian or post-apocalyptic, and a good chunk of the nonfiction books were prison memoirs. I found myself diving into comforting rereads like “The Lord of the Rings.” After the murder of George Floyd, the comfort food yielded to a search for discomfort through books like “Between the World and Me.”
Peter L. Steiner, Mankato: I am nearly finished with Albert Camus’ “The Plague.” What has struck me most are the uncanny parallels to COVID-19: issues of randomness, denial, fear, death, quarantine and the vast changes it brings to daily life. Next up: “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
Carol Sherwin, Eden Prairie: When this pandemic started, I discovered Agatha Christie’s autobiography. She was adventuresome, curious, creative and intriguing. After that, I couldn’t stop reading her. Besides being mysteries, her stories are travelogues. They are moral tales where good triumphs over evil. They are an escape to a civilized time I wish I had lived in.
Annie Possis, Grand Marais, Minn.: I’ve always preferred nonfiction over fiction. But right now our current reality is enough nonfiction for me. I find myself gravitating to mysteries, crime thrillers — anything super absorbing that will take me away.
Heidi Holtan, Grand Rapids, Minn.: I pulled out “Excellent Women” by Barbara Pym. Now I’m working on reading all of her clever tales that have me wishing for a vicar next door I could invite over to tea. These women she wrote about are indeed excellent.
Jerry Kohl, Grand Marais: Courtesy of John Le Carré, I have traveled — England, France, Switzerland, Russia, East and West Germany, and pretty much all of Eastern Europe. I feel transported from my worries of today by the espionage and intrigue of that era.
Walter J. Roers, Bloomington: I’m a little over 100 pages into the 600-plus page “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” His work is surprisingly readable and provides a very human and unique perspective on cultural and ethical issues that are still with us today.
Linda Eckman, Plymouth: I am fixated on books and films about dystopia, novels of pandemics and epidemics, and nonfictions about disease — “The End of October,” by Lawrence Wright; “Epidemics and Society,” by Frank M. Snowden; “Moloka’i,” by Alan Brennert, and I have a lot more on reserve from Hennepin County Library.
Lisa Von Drasek, St. Paul: Since the pandemic, I am reading cookbooks, short stories and nonfiction. Right now I am reading “Becoming a Teacher,” a profile of LaQuisha Hall by Melinda D. Anderson. It is not just about teaching but also about growing up in a marginalized community with scarce resources. Ms. Hall’s journey is a compelling one.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.