A collage of four images, each showing a person reading books - one image each shows the person in spring, summer, autumn and winter, with their hair getting longer as time progresses.

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

In 2020, reading took on a whole new significance, as we spent much of the year confined to our own homes and unable to see friends and family freely.

While there was the opportunity to read more in lockdown, this year was definitely about quality and not quantity. Some of us revisited old favourites, others tried something completely new. But whatever we were reading, we found solace, knowledge, joy and much more in books.

Here, book lovers share what reading meant to them in this very unusual year...

Reading has been an amazing escape from the world. Definitely helped to keep my spirits high.
@Dalton68115810 on Twitter

This year reading wasn’t just the escape, it was life. Some of my best experiences this year came from enjoying many good books.
@TheRealD_Neal on Twitter

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are (M. Cooley)...this year I was in many lovely places without leaving my home
Katy Collins Ostrowska on Facebook

Some of the books I've read this year have actually been set in 2020, a very different 2020. A 2020 where we could travel and see friends and meet new people. Even the books I've read set in previous or unspecified years and made me whimsical for simpler less worrying times. Reading this year has helped me and reminded me to be gentler on myself!
Laura Jones on Facebook

It has been a significant coping mechanism; in fact it has been throughout life.
@HeanorBaptist on Twitter

A chance to briefly forget our own worries and disappear into a different space.
@CiJamesYT on Twitter

Reading has kept my mental health in some form of neutral balance, as everything which 2020 has brought threatens to tip it into chaos.
@soorploom on Twitter

I have enjoyed reading a lot. During these times when we don't have much to do at home, books opened up a new world for me. It prevented me from the monotony. Also I was able to complete those books which demanded a lot of time and I was not able to complete them. Also books on simple living acted as guides during these times for me.
Maitreyi Bakshi on Facebook

It has kept me inspired and motivated to achieve my goals.
@absurd_reviews on Twitter

It's fantastic to hear that so many people's passion for reading has been re-ignited this year. Books are a unique means of escape and this has been a comfort to me and to so many others in 2020. But this year, books have also enabled us to connect with issues which are important to us all: Black Lives Matter, climate change and economics to name a few. To me, this shows that the power of books and the necessity of reading remains as strong as it ever was. 
Vicky Dawes on Facebook

Reading in 2020 has been crucially important for me. In a year where we were mainly confined to our homes in isolation, reading made me appreciate solitude and allowed time for self reflection. I have always loved reading but I have never been more appreciative of well written prose, in depth analysis of human nature and the philosophical underpinnings of literature greats such as Thomas Mann. It is through my readings in 2020 that I have grown to understand human nature a lot better.
Jason Yeo on Facebook

Reading has always been about accessing the highest in me. This year was no different.
@NirbakD on Twitter

2020 is the year I started reading full heartedly again, not just one book here and there, but book after book after book, re-reading old favorites again and finding new ones 
Gabriella Sivertson on Facebook

I have enjoyed reading this year and have done more so than any other year. It has been a great means of escape and there are some brilliant books out there!
Sarah Winney on Facebook

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