Lockdown life means a lot of restrictions. I can’t watch my kids play sports, I can’t work in my office, I can’t go to a pub or restaurant. Not that I ever go to the pub or restaurant but it’s nice to have the option of not doing something, right? Life is a lot of ‘can’t do’ at the moment. Most people are sticking to the regulations, pulling together for the greater good, doing the right thing.
Lockdown is the only way of containing the virus until the vaccination roll-out allows us to return to some kind of normality. So we struggle on, soldier on, and batten down the hatches. There is a silver lining, however. Not being able to do so many things affords us the time to focus on other activities. Because for every can’t there is a can. I can spend more time with my family, I can go for long walks and I can read all the books that have been sitting in my TBR pile for an eternity.
TBR (To Be Read) lists are the albatross around the necks of most bookworms. We are creatures of impulse and rarely enter a bookshop and leave without at least one or two new additions to our libraries. They tend to be lengthy, unmanageable beasts and, no matter how hard we try, snake into the far yonder. It’s akin to chipping away at an iceberg with a teaspoon. Maximum effort for minimum gain. We never get to the bottom of our TBR piles.
Not that many of us want to, it’s like a badge of honour amongst the reading communities I inhabit. Who has the most impressive TBR list? Is mine bigger than yours? Let’s compare and contrast, shall we? If I had a pound for every time I heard the phrase ‘I’ll add your book to my TBR list but have no idea when I’ll get round to it,’ I’d be at least £57 richer. Most bookworms will die surrounded by a mound of unread books.
My retirement plan was to read all the books I had meant to but never got round to during my working life. Lockdown amounts to a mini version of that. I love a good Netflix binge as much as the next person but, given the choice, I’ll always plump for a book. Reading allows me to escape the rigours of real life for a few, precious hours. It’s a stress-buster and helps keep me curb any anxiety or unwanted thoughts threatening to consume me.
So I’ve set myself the target of reading 52 books in 2021 which, even for my dodgy mathematical ability, works out at one a week. So far, I’ve managed 10 so I’m slightly ahead of schedule. I’m using my Goodreads account to plot my progress, post reviews and manage the dreaded TBR list. At the minute mine sits at a paltry dozen or so, but I’m adding to it every week. Facebook have sussed me out and are now dangling book promotions in front of me every time I scan my timeline. Curse you Facebook.
I’ve no idea if I’ll hit my target. I’ll be returning to work next week which will cut into my reading time. But I’m certainly going to give it my best shot. Why? Because I can, it’s something I want to do that I can control. It’s an attainable target. Why wait when it’s within my grasp? Lockdown is all about restrictions to our freedoms yet it also allows many of us the freedom to escape the confines of our 9-5 grind and reach for the stars.
You might not be an avid reader and spending the rest of the year with your nose stuck in a book isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But we can all benefit from an ‘I can’ mentality in these ‘I can’t’ times. It could be taking up a new pastime, tackling a long neglected home improvement or getting more fresh air and exercise. If it’s possible and you have the time and capability to do so, then give it a go. Who knows when you have such an opportunity again?