The NetGalley team is grateful each and every day for the impact that books have had on our lives. In 2020, we gravitated towards books that would bring us comfort and hope. We also found ourselves immersed in virtual events, bonding with fellow readers during readalongs, and discovering creative outlets through bookish communities on social media. Here’s a look at the bookish things we’re thankful for this year. Let us know your list in the comments!
Reading can be such a solitary activity, and in a year where I’ve been unable to easily see so many people that I love, buddy reads have become a lifeline—a way to indulge in my love of reading, my desire to escape the doom scroll, and to bask in the joy of sharing a reading experience with another person. A few weeks into quarantine I collaborated with my coworker Dana on starting an Instagram readalong group outside of work. Connecting with these readers every day to talk about our favorite authors, characters, tropes, and books has brought me so much comfort and joy in a year where it was easy to feel cut off. I’m grateful for each and every one of them, and looking forward to continuing to read with them all into 2021.
It has not always been easy to sit down with a book this year. This is where I’m so thankful for audiobooks because it’s enabled me to read and get lost in a book at times when I’m struggling to focus. I’d just press play while cooking dinner or doing the dishes and get swept away. I especially love that my Libro.fm membership means I’m supporting my favorite indie bookstore every time I pick up a new audiobook and that my library has such great audio offerings on Hoopla.
I’m always grateful for independent bookstores, but they have shown such innovation in expanding their community outreach during a challenging year. I miss browsing their shelves and visiting with the staff (human and animal), but I’ve appreciated the online events (virtual book clubs), social media posts (IG Lives), and more-imaginative-than-ever newsletters. The socially distanced buying options have also been impressive with booksellers shipping even more, and doing local deliveries by foot, car, bike, and even skateboard. They’re doing this because they’ve had to adapt quickly so we can still access books while supporting the stores we love so they can survive. Speaking of which… I’m going to place an order with my local indie right now for the holidays (I recommend you do as well!).
During quarantine, I found it difficult to read anything that wasn’t a romance novel, and through my own social media have found so many new reader friends. Moments of this year have felt very isolating, so finding a community has been really rewarding. I love how welcoming romance readers are on booktube, bookstagram, and book Twitter. The friends I’ve made through #SeasonallyBookedUp (a group I’ve co-created that buddy reads books together) have brought me so much joy. Our discussions range from swooning and gushing to dissecting symbolism, structure, and feminist ideas, and it has been incredibly fulfilling for me. I am so excited to read more romances and be more involved in the romance community in 2021.
Cafe Con Libros
I’m thankful for my local indie-bookstore, Cafe Con Libros. They are a tiny shop, but serve up an amazingly curated list of books that feature authors who are womxn of color, feminist titles for all ages, and a great cup of coffee. They have an awesome monthly subscription service, which hooks into their book club meetings. Our neighborhood rallied around them when COVID shut businesses down, overwhelming them with orders for curbside pickup and speaking to their value in our community.
Having a couple of nieces and nephews under four, it has been an absolute joy the last few years getting to browse and pick out some of the incredible children’s books available right now. I feel like there are SO many more options for kids these days to learn about the world around them. I’ve seen more diverse books, books about little girls befriending dinosaurs, books about feminism for babies, even books about farts that still manage to be endearing. I’m so thankful kidlit has expanded into what it is today!
I am very thankful for booksellers being even more creative this year than they already are in non-Covid times. They found ways to deliver books and book recommendations to readers throughout lockdown periods—on bikes and through personal delivery, via phone and social media—and always with smiles on their faces. I am equally thankful for all readers who showed their support to them and bought even more books than usual.
This year I have mostly read (or re-read) Marguerite Duras’ astonishing scope of works. Her precisions, her emotional acuity, and her formal experimentation make her both classic and modern; iconoclastic and deeply felt. It has felt like meeting an old friend after many years and not realizing just how much you love and have missed them—which, in this year of all years, is at least one thing that makes sense.
The online book community
I am thankful for the online book community. I love being able to connect with fellow romance readers, sharing reading recommendations, and keeping up-to-date on my favorite authors. I’ve turned to Twitter for specific romance subgenre and trope recommendations, and as result I have discovered many new-to-me authors.
It may sound trite, but books have indeed (and dare I say, literally) changed my life this year. For one, I am a healthier person. All my life I have hated running. Then one glorious morning, as I once again gave exercise another go, I found that it is only the first thirty seconds that I need to get over—if I have a good audiobook playing. Now, not even that bothers me, since by that time I’m already on a scavenger ship in some obscure quadrant of the galaxy striving against psychopathic pirates, draconian enforcers, or space dragons. Additionally, books have opened my eyes to the wonders of Lean software development, helped me better serve my team with both empathy and candor, and improved my habits. They have also been a way, more than in any previous year, to connect with friends by sending and receiving them as gifts, and to engage with strangers who have read the same ones. And did I mention dragons? There were dragons!
The NetGalley team
I am incredibly thankful for the people I get to work with every day! Their creativity, hard work, and dedication to each other are truly inspiring and humbling.