Life During Quarantine 20: Books and Reading during the Pandemic

I think of all the things that help us get through difficult times, and nothing can even come close to books!

As a child, I was reading at 6th-grade level when in second grade, due to the fact my mom was a teacher and we had books everywhere. I was particularly fond of the Golden Book encyclopedias! I especially was drawn to the 7 wonders of the world and the mysteries of crater lake when I was 3 and couldn’t quite read. My fascination with the written word had grown exponentially since then! This year, perhaps as never before, our reading habits reflect our precarious reality.

As the country has muddled through a deadly pandemic and a racial reckoning under a cloud of exhaustion and dread, we’ve used books to escape the present, inform our beliefs, and educate our homebound children.

We’ve found catharsis in apocalyptic science fiction and comfort in romance, advice in self-help guides, and a moment of peace, thanks to children’s activity books. Their survey in May had the 5 most popular authors: Erik Larson, Peter Camus, Hilary Mantel, Emily St. John Mandel, Amor Towles

Challenges impacting print sales (and the bookstores, authors, and publishers who depend on those sales) are likely to continue while businesses remain closed. But while in-person print sales have dropped, many readers are placing orders online instead. Jessica Flareau, a manager in Barnes & Noble’s e-commerce division, told us that “As people around the country started social distancing, we saw a strong pickup in online orders, orders for curbside pickup, and eBooks.” There’s also been significant growth in online print sales from independent bookstores., a new online retailer that gives a portion of sales to local book shops, reported a dramatic increase in sales, in large part due to independent bookstores and others in the industry directing customers to the new platform as a way to continue driving sales despite closures.

I have always found books a source of joy and comfort besides a wonderful way to learn!  Many friends have shared great things they have read.  As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and many of us are seeking entertainment while staying home, reading offers some respite. Now may be the time to finally dig into that epic novel you’ve had on your shelf forever, revisit an old favorite or try something out of your reading comfort zone. Thankfully, books are easy to access without leaving home. Libraries across the map allow cardholders to borrow e-books and audiobooks without visiting a branch (try the free Libby app, which connects you to your local library so you can easily search for the titles you want). Several companies are also offering free e-books and audiobooks right now. A few of those offers include a 30-day free trial to the reading subscription service Scribd and 30 free ebooks to choose from through April 2 at the nonprofit press Archipelago Books. Several classic children’s audiobook titles are also available for teachers and children on Penguin Random House’s Volumes App.

OverDrive, which helps 90% of libraries in North America offer e-books to their patrons, e-book loans have jumped 53% on average since before mid-March. Kids, or grownups checking out kids’ books, have increased their e-book reading the most, the company says. Young adult nonfiction e-book checkouts are up 122%, and juvenile fiction is up 93%.The system has also seen 343,000 people create new digital library cards since the beginning of March, more than double the number created in all of last year. OverDrive’s catalog includes more than 4 million digital offerings, counting both e-books and downloadable audio books.

According to Entrepreneur magazine here are some books to read! Executives have some time on their hands and have in many cases restructure how things get done. Its also a very challenging time to be a leader.

  1. No One’s Listening and It’s Your Fault: Get Your Message Heard During Organizational Transformationsby Pam Marmon
  2. Shtick to Business: What the Masters of Comedy Can Teach You About Breaking Rules, Being Fearless, and Building a Serious Career by Peter McGraw
  3. Give & Get Employer Branding: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose and Belongingby Bryan Adams and Charlotte Marshall
  4. The Grace of Cancer: Lessons in Humility and Greatnessby Veronica Villanueva
  5. Naked at Work: A Leader’s Guide to Fearless Authenticityby Danessa Knaupp
  6. Before I Leave You: A Memoir on Suicide, Addiction, and Healing by Robert Imbeault
  7. Automated Stock Trading Systems: A Systematic Approach for Traders to Make Money in Bull, Bear and Sideways Markets by Laurens Bensdorp
  8. The Reality Revolution: The Mind-Blowing Movement to Hack Your Reality by Brian Scott

Bill Gates is probably the last person you’d expect who needs business lessons. By his own admission, the Microsoft co-founder doesn’t read many books about how to run a business because it’s ‘rare to find one that really captures what it’s like to build and operate an organization’. However if pressed, there are two books that Gates would recommend to anyone who asks – John Brooks’s ‘Business Adventures’ and ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’ by Robert Iger.

I have taken the time to learn a bit more about neuroplasticity, the latest trends in home design, new cook books, and for my most compelling book related activity during the pandemic, I finished my rough draft for the book I am writing called Weaving Life. I sent to the publisher I had been in contact with. Not only did they switch editors, but they also weren’t taking any manuscripts for 6 months! So, I shopped around online to find a publishing house either National or international and I began working with Atmosphere Press. I also in my now more limited networking found a literary agent to help navigate the process.

I would love to hear what books have inspired you at this time! Thanks for sharing!


Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

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