The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed all aspects of our lives - and that includes our reading preferences. As we became trapped at home by ourselves, people turned to their bookshelves for entertainment and information. We were transported to mythical, mask-free lands and learned new skills to fuel isolation-driven hobbies. 

Clearly, books can be an enduring source of comfort even in the most unprecedented times. As a vaccine is in sight and a new year is upon us, let's take a look back at the year books have had...and get ready for 2021 reading trends!

COVID-19's Effects on Reading

As we first started seeing the effects of the pandemic, reading was the last thing on anyone's minds. Many were fearful and focused on other things, while some were confident COVID-19 would soon disappear and did not yet adjust their habits. However, by mid-April, sales of online books had skyrocketed 777% as new and old bibliophiles had more time than ever to read. 

The need for social distance meant that most of this book shopping was happening online - a trend shift that was very valuable for independent authors who choose to self-publish on web platforms. 

It wasn't just where people were reading that changed - the coronavirus subtly dictated what we wanted to read. Sales of children's books took off as parents sought to keep their kids occupied and learning. Nonfiction reference books also saw lots of love, serving as bored readers' guides for new hobbies and fascinations. 

Quarantined Reads

But it wasn't just the kids and intellectuals diving back into reading. One of the most popular genres was "feel-good" fiction. Some of the world's top authors had time to wrap up projects, blessing us with some highly anticipated new releases, right when we needed them the most. If you want to make sure you didn't miss out on any titles, here are some of our top picks: 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins 

It feels odd calling any book from The Hunger Games' universe "feel-good," but the nostalgia with this one couldn't be beaten. The much-awaited prequel to the bestselling dystopian series allows readers to escape into a new world and think, "Well, at least things aren't this bad." 

Midnight Sun - Stephenie Meyer 

Collins wasn't the only one returning to her roots. After ten years, Meyer released Midnight Sun, a take on the Twilight series from Edward's perspective. Cozy, easy read? Check. Main character who can relate to not being able to go out in the sun? Check. 

Reads to Keep On Your Radar

2021 comes with plenty of new releases to get excited about. We anticipate readers still clinging to comfort, while also taking the time to tackle some more important social issues. Here are some of our most anticipated books that will be coming out before we know it: 

You Have a Match - Emma Lord 

This light-hearted read follows a girl who decides to meet up with a long-lost sister at summer camp. The whole premise provides major Parent Trap vibes and we couldn't be more ready. 

Concrete Rose - Angie Thomas

Thomas's follow-up to her bestselling debut, The Hate U Give, couldn't come at a better time. Necessary conversations about social justice are happening every day, and this book is a great way to be entertained and informed.