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Women in UK cite reading as their biggest source of entertainment during the pandemic, over watching tv and baking


Nov 1, 2021

69% of women turned to reading during lockdown

Biggest readers were women aged 45+

North West, South West, Northern Ireland and Wales had biggest concentration of readers

Home of female fiction, Rare Birds Book Club has released survey statistics showing that women in the UK found a ‘novel escape’ during lockdown, with 69% of them choosing to read a book to pass the time.

The report, which pulls data from a recently conducted YouGov survey commissioned by Rare Birds, suggests that even though Tiger King had us in its claws and social media saw us scrambling to find the perfect banana bread recipe, reading was still the top of our entertainment list for women.

Given an option of ten activities, from reading and crafts to gardening and at home workouts, women of the UK were most likely to read, but least likely to play an instrument (8%) or take part in an outdoor activity such as bird watching (18%). The male population, however, was much more likely to watch a streaming service (66%) and in fact only 54% said they have chosen to read during lockdown. Encompassing both ends of the spectrum, the biggest readers were women aged 45-54 (71%) and 55+ (75%).

Rare Birds founder, Rachel Wood, suggests it was the easiest form of escaping, without leaving the house: “Reading is the perfect option when you need a little ‘me’ time – it lowers stress and anxiety (something many of us struggled with during lockdown) and can whisk us away to another country, another time, another world, without us needing to leave the comfort of our own homes.

“Over lockdown women in the UK seemingly turned to reading to keep them occupied and to us, that makes a lot of sense. The comfort in a beloved book, the excitement in a new one; there is nothing quite like the feeling of being taken away through the pages of a story.”

Rare Birds Book Club sends members a monthly surprise book, followed by access to an online forum where they can chat with likeminded people about that month’s read. Thanks to the demand for easy-to-delivery letterbox-sized care packages, the ‘book club you can’t read without’ saw an almost immediate increase in sales of 52% during the first four weeks of lockdown and were 117% up YoY for Q1 from 20’ to 21’.