I’m reading my way through the pandemic

Helen van Soest
3 min readDec 19, 2021


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

We’ve all had to find ways to get through 2020 and this year. Having survived six lockdowns in Melbourne, Australia, these are things that kept me going:

  1. Takeaway coffee on my morning walks
  2. Online shopping (in which I bought too many clothes)
  3. Cuddles with my cat Oscar
  4. Watching Netflix thrillers with my partner on the couch in the evenings
  5. Phone chats with friends and family
  6. You tube workouts
  7. Meditating
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Red wine
  10. Writing
  11. Reading


Photo by Sinziana Susa on Unsplash

Reflecting on the past two years, I think reading was what really helped me survive the tumultuous twists and turns of the pandemic. In the lockdowns, when I was bored, restless and anxious, reading in bed at night soothed me. I would forget about what was happening in the world, while I escaped into the world of books.

I have always loved reading. As a child, I loved going to the library and borrowing loads of books and devouring them at home. Books were escapism for me — when things were tough, I knew I could always rely on a book to comfort me.

I continued to read a lot as I grew up. I often went to book shops, watched authors talk about their books and visited various libraries. But sometimes my reading would drop off depending on what was going in with my life — whether I was travelling, busy with work, socialising a lot or distracted by various problems. At some point though, I would return to reading to give me comfort and help me survive a challenging situation.

Before the pandemic hit, I was not doing much reading at all. I had moved to Melbourne about two years beforehand and was too busy with work, socialising and being out, to think about reading. The main things I read were the news and dating app profiles, sadly. Thankfully the dating app profile reading (and swiping) ended when I met my partner.

When I was stuck at home in several lockdowns, I sought out reading like a long lost friend. I started reading books voraciously again. I read almost every night. I could not get enough of it.

Recently, I was on Goodreads where I discovered that I read about three books in 2019, 22 books in 2020 and 28 books in 2021 so far. I was amazed at this — despite how difficult the last two years had been, at least I had developed a healthy reading habit again. Below I have listed my top five favourite reads in 2020 and 2021.

My favourite books in 2020

  1. You by Caroline Kepnes
  2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  3. The Gift Of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
  4. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
  5. Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins

My favourite books in 2021

  1. You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
  2. What A Time To be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough by Chidera Eggerue
  3. After You by Jojo Moyes
  4. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
  5. The Paris Affair by Pip Drysdale

Reading in 2022 and beyond

I intend to keep reading a lot during this pandemic and beyond. There is nothing more joyful than losing oneself in a story and expanding your mind and seeing different points of view. I remember someone saying recently that reading books is one of the most empathetic things you can do. As a highly sensitive person, I can see why I am so attracted to reading — highly sensitive people are known to have a high level of empathy. As for 2022, I’m hoping I can match my reading record of this year or exceed it. Now, its time to go back to reading…



Helen van Soest

I love reading articles, books and blogs and try to write when I can.