While COVID-19 shutdown most of Australia’s productivity, authors kept themselves busy collating comfort for others the best way they know how – through words.
And while the writers continued to create, bookworms prepared for isolation by stockpiling on more than just groceries and toilet paper, with book sales in March reaching “Christmas-like” numbers.
The publishing process means the extent of the deftness won’t be felt until early 2021, but the list of pandemic-based books continues to rise.
For Newcastle-born author Ronnie Scott, releasing a book during a society shutdown had surprising benefits.
“It wasn’t so bad really,” he said.
“There was less anxiety doing the publicity from home.
“Writing and promoting a book is controlled by huge forces outside your control anyway.”
Scott’s first novel, The Adversary, was released on 15 April.
The RMIT University creative writing lecturer said the book “suited lockdown”.
“It’s about two best friends, young gay men, who don’t know how to change their friendship into an intimate one.
“It’s being in a house together, feeling too confined, too close by circumstance.
“The pair are intimate but lonely. I’d imagine this was a feeling felt in many homes during isolation.”
The Adversary joins a string of books released during the pandemic.
The Australian trade publishing market was experiencing “Christmas-like sales growth” during the first few weeks of COVID-19 as consumers purchased an increasing number of books for entertainment in isolation.
According to Nielsen BookScan, Australia’s trade publishing market revenue for the week ending 28 March was up 15% on the same week last year, with the number of copies sold up 36% compared to the same time in 2019.
In the week ending 28 March, $2.6 million in revenue was reported across trade titles.
“It is evident that Australians are stocking up, among other items, on books in preparation for isolated living.”
As Australians begin emerging from isolation, Penguin Random House has released a list of books designed to help Australian readers return to their ‘normal’.
For coming back to society after being at home for so long and experiencing reverse culture shock, the group suggests:
- Jono Lineen’s Into the Heart of the Himalayas for tips on coming back to society, gleaned from his experience of trekking the Himalayas solo.
- Gregory Smith’s Out of the Forest for tips on the importance of connecting with nature during times of stress.
For reversing bad habits started during isolation and how to break them and start new ones:
- James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
- B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything
For those who have been relaxing the rules around screen time whilst working from home, here’s some suggestions on how to reset the boundaries:
- Tim Harris’ Tiny Habits will offer tips for reducing screen time.
- Michael Grose’s Weekly/Daily detoxing from screen time.
For self-help books following isolation:
- Nick Fuller has released Interval Weight Loss for Women and Glennon Doyle
- Glennon Doyle’s Untamed for tips on how to live a brave and authentic life.
- Adam Fraser’s Strive: Embracing the Gift of Struggle for tips on creating boundaries between work and home environments.
- Katherine Firkin’s Sticks and Stones.