Bibliotherapy in the Time of Covid-19

Everyone needs some magic for the soul.

Picture of Books on a Shelf

I love books. After my family, they are the center of my universe and always have been. I can’t imagine my life without them. I can go on vacation or live in someone else’s shoes simply by opening a book. It is my escape hatch, a portal into another realm.

I have shelves full of books — those read and those still waiting for me. Bibliophiles feel the magnetic pull of books for sale, screaming out from store racks or library shelves or garage-sale tables. Most book lovers are inundated with them.

As a book reviewer, I’m constantly receiving new ones — many times, advance reading copies straight from publishers. There is nothing better than getting books in the mail, their cardboard wrappers teasing me with the special treat inside. My heart rate goes up when the UPS truck stops in front of my house.

E-books are okay — they only take up virtual space, you can highlight and make virtual notes, and the dictionary feature is the bomb — but they can’t compare to the feel of print covers (some satiny vellum, some slick and glossy, some rough to the touch) or the paper as you’re turning pages, devouring the words.

I share books with other avid readers like my mom, but I don’t have many readers in my family (I’m not sure how that happened). I’ve donated books to a small library at a local nursing home, hoping its residents might relish the selection. But I’ve been told there aren’t many who read a lot at that facility, so I’m not sure how much it helps.

To my surprise, I’ve had trouble finding places that might enjoy a free used-book library. (I could donate to an outreach program that resells books to fund programs, but I would prefer they go right into the hands of readers.) I have A LOT of books needing adoption.

When the pandemic struck and isolated people at home, I wondered about the bibliophiles who don’t have dozens of books on hand. How would they get them?

Read the rest of my column at Washington Independent Review of Books?

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