Reading for pleasure ‘most popular lockdown pastime’


Reading for pleasure is the most popular lockdown pastime, research suggests.

Three in 10 adults in Britain polled for The Open University said they had picked up a book for fun during the lockdowns in 2020.

Overall, 61% of the 2,011 people surveyed in December said they had taken up or rekindled a creative interest.

Two thirds (67%) of women and 56% of men said they had started or rekindled a creative hobby during the lockdowns, with women under 44 the most likely to have done so.

Reading for pleasure topped the list, followed by reading cookery books or trying out new recipes (28%) and doing DIY (22%).

Around a fifth (19%) of adults said they had started learning or reading about a subject, with history the most popular choice.

This was most popular among men and people aged 18-34.

The findings have been released to coincide with National Storytelling Week, which runs to February 6.

Dr Sally O’Reilly, senior lecturer in creative writing at The Open University, said: “Immersing ourselves in a good book has been a really valuable way to relax and forget about the pressures brought on by the pandemic, especially in colder months when our time outdoors is restricted.

“Human beings are pattern-seeking animals, and in telling stories we are finding patterns in events.

“Lockdown has shown how vital narrative is to us, whether in the form of a physical book, an audio book or a box set on TV.

“At work too, narrative is important to us, in that it helps us to understand an issue if we think of it in terms of cause and effect.

“Narratives are particular and specific, and we often remember stories more easily than abstract ideas.

“If you want to communicate with an audience, tell them a story.”

The polling was commissioned as part of the wider Understanding The Nation survey by Walnut Unlimited.