Pandemic Reading Habits Survey Results – Book Riot

Two weeks ago, we asked readers to answer a series of questions about how the pandemic had (or had not) changed your reading habits and preferences. Over 5,000 of you answered (5,117 to be exact), so we’ve got quite a good chunk of information to share! Here are the results.
More than half of you, 58.4%, said you’ve been reading more since the pandemic. 18.2% say you’re reading less, and 23.3% say your reading amount hasn’t changed. We didn’t ask why people gave the answers we did, but since so many people had more time between stay-at-home orders and less commuting, along with a need for a bit of escapism, the big increase makes sense.
Most of you — 70% — said you’re reading the same book length as usual. 14.7% said you’re reading longer books (which scans with the increase in nonfiction and fantasy we’ll see later), and 15.1% said you’re reading shorter books.
217 of you, or about 4%, disbanded your book clubs entirely during the pandemic. 328, or 6%, paused your book club meetings but plan to get back to it when it feels safe to do so. For those who took their book clubs virtual, 9% of you (476 people) will keep them virtual and 15% have returned to in-person meetings. 56 of you, or 1%, never stopped meeting in person, which is a choice.
Quite a large number of you — 47% — said you changed reading formats during the pandemic. Let’s break that down:
When asked if you were using your public libraries more or less during the pandemic, 28% said you were using it more, 25% said you were using it less, and 47% said you were using it about the same. A further breakdown:
When asked if the genre of books you’re reading has changed during the pandemic, 33% of you said yes. That breakdown is interesting:
As you can see, “more variety,” “more romance,” and “more nonfiction” are basically tied for the biggest changes in genre choices. The nonfiction entries mentioned specifically reading more memoirs, investigative political works, and antiracism books. The next rung is a tie between “more fantasy” and “more light fiction” — light fiction being a catch-all for keywords like “optimistic,” “happier,” “not so dark,” “beach reads,” and “lighter books.” Not really a genre per se, but definitely a tone people were searching for. If you combine people who read more mysteries and those who read more thrillers, that group is also close to the fantasy/light fiction cohort at 6.6%.
It’s also interesting that twice as many people sought out fantasy as did science fiction (perhaps because sci-fi includes dystopias, which people were pointedly avoiding). And to the brave 2.2% who picked up more horror: we salute you.
And that’s it! Thank you to everyone who participated.