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Did literature help us through lockdown?

“If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere”.
Seamus Heaney

Did you hear this quote over lockdown and find comfort in it? Many did.

Literature has always been used by many as therapy but has the pandemic encouraged people to use books as a form of comfort more than ever before? We speak to David Torrins from No Alibis Bookstore and discuss how attitudes to books have evolved in the past year and he also gives us some great book recommendations.

Would you agree that many people have leaned on books to help get them through the past year?

Yes, definitely. I can only speak myself when saying that, immersing myself in a books has enabled me to escape from what has been a very difficult and troubling year.  Many of the customers who called into the shop, once we were able to re open expressed similar feelings.

We all realised that the various media outlets needed to inform, advise and report on the Covid pandemic, and we often felt the need to watch the news. However, on many occasions I found myself switching the news off even before the first words were spoken.

A book, takes you to a new world, place, environment…I think we all needed that at some point during the last 15 months.

What has been your favourite release in the past year?

Two Books

The Innocents by Michael Crummey.

A novel about love and loyalty set in a bleak and harsh environment sometime in the mid 19th century.

Set in northern Newfoundland, the novel focuses on the interaction between two young children who have been orphaned. Living remotely in the most basic of conditions the tests placed before them are unbearably harrowing but totally believable. Just existing is a challenge beyond the realms of a normal life and their reliance towards each other is the only strength the possess…but, this also has consequences that prove traumatic.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

This is a stunning novel about consequences, responsibility, chance and trying to exist in a world that is often beyond any realm of understanding.

A timely book for the year that has been, this novel looks into the lives, loves and losses of a group of loosely related characters.

Our main characters take us into the worlds of high luxury and excess, drug fuelled nightclubs, trailer parks for the almost homeless and the world of international container shipping…all of which are inextricably linked through chance, experience and decision. This novel is mindblowing.

Why do you think people find comfort in reading?

The ability to transport yourself to another world. To inhabit the worlds of others…be they within this era or 500 years in the past, or future, is something that can refresh the mind and spirit.

What releases are you looking forward to this year?

Within genre fiction, John Connolly’s new novel, The Nameless Ones. July 2021

Our new publication, from No Alibis Press, Seed by Joanna Walsh June 2021

What author would you recommend for someone looking to start to read more?

I cannot recommend just one so here are four…Lucy Caldwell, Wendy Erskine, Namwali Serpell and Fernando Aramburu.