One group of people who don’t seem to be affected a lot during COVID-19 are the readers. Reading is a solitary pursuit where you can spend hours on your comfortable seat, engrossed in your book. Not going out, has given more time to readers to indulge more. The lockdown and social distancing rules lead to a surge in interest in reading on social media. Most of the literary activities, including the literature festivals, have moved online. The publishing houses are having interactions with authors, discussing their works or their reading/writing habits. There are writing workshops, online book clubs, and a surfeit of book recommendations coming from all quarters leading to a corresponding increase in the TBR list. Celebrities also jumped on the bandwagon with a few of them doing read-aloud of books, though most of them targeted the children’s section and did a one-off session only.
There was one celebrity though who went the full mile, actor Patrick Stewart, better known for playing Captain Kirk in Star Trek.
In his feature, “A Sonnet A Day”, he reads out a sonnet of the Bard( William Shakespeare for the unaware) once a day. His aim ( and he is close to achieving it), is to read all the sonnets of William Shakespeare. The videos are hardly two minutes long and yet, are sufficient to make me feel happy. It is about taking the time to pause to listen, to ponder about the words, the way the speaker’s voice rises and falls, the cadence, the expressions. In today’s scenario where there is social anxiety about the uncertainty of the future, the sonnets give me a few moments to slow down, to rest my mind from running in different directions. After listening to Patrick Stewart every day, I have realized that even though I read Shakespeare reluctantly as part of my course work in school, I now have a better appreciation for the written word. The English playwright is not only responsible for developing English as a language to the current form, but he is also giving me a reason to smile every day.
COVID-19 has given us the boon of time to reflect, where we as a society went wrong. It has become a time for us to figure out the right path to live, to go back to the basics away from consumerist life we have become used too. It has also given us more time to discover ourselves, our passions, our interests.
And my passion seems to be towards the written word.
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