Culture lockdown: Literature

With lockdown becoming a new reality, we have been checking out how arts and culture are adapting to keep us entertained. First up, we take a look at how you can enjoy literature from the comfort of your sofa.

Culture lockdown: Literature

From poems to podcasts, there is an array of literature content springing up during lockdown. Whether you prefer to indulge in an audiobook, join a new book club or even attend a virtual festival, literature, in its many forms, can provide a sense of solace and community in these challenging times. Here are some of the best things we’ve found so far!


If you are struggling to concentrate on the written word at the moment, that is completely understandable, so why not turn to audiobooks? Many libraries have free audiobooks through apps like BorrowBox. Subscription sites like Audible and Scribd have free trials – Audible’s will get you one audio book for 30 days, and in light of the current circumstances Scribd have extended theirs to 30 days giving you unlimited listening for a full month. Even better, Audible have made hundreds of children’s books and classics completely free to access through Audible Stories – you don’t need to sign up, just stream whichever book you choose!

Delve into the Classics

You can’t get out to buy a new book, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read. Author Kamila Shamsie took to Twitter to find out what was on reader’s #covid19readinglist and most people wanted to return to something from their childhood or take the opportunity to dive into a classic. Thankfully there are thousands of classics available on sites like Project Gutenberg, and they are completely free to access on a phone, laptop or e-reader. Check out the hashtag for plenty of recommendations! 


NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project that challenges everyone to write or record a poem a day in April. If you fancy getting involved, then why not head to the official participants’ website where you can submit your own poems. 

Or if you would prefer to seek solace in reading and listening to poetry during this tricky time, there are plenty of poems to explore. World poetry slam champion Harry Baker is tweeting daily poems and interviewing his favourite poets on a new podcast. The Edinburgh based spoken word collective Loud Poets are also challenging each other to complete NaPoWriMo and you can check out their poems on their podcast

Join a book club

Always wanted to join a book club but never had the time? Connecting with readers online is a great opportunity to feel part of a community and challenge yourself to discover new authors. 

The app Good Reads is free to download and allows you to join numerous book clubs from sci-fi to YA fiction. Several new reading groups have also launched in response to the coronavirus lockdown to encourage people to read together. The new book club Tolstoy Together is even challenging readers to attempt the 1,200 page classic War and Peace!

How are your favourite authors spending lockdown?

Invite your favourite authors into your home with live Q and A sessions and book tours from your sofa. 

At Home with Penguin is a chance to connect with much loved authors, ask them questions and find out which books they are turning to in lockdown. Check out the live stream here every Tuesday at 5pm. Waterstones is also bringing livestreams of a host of authors via Instagram live, while Blackwell’s is hosting their own online offering through Twitter. 

Literary Festivals in Lockdown

The Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival has been running from 27th March and will continue through until 11th April - there’s still plenty of events you can tune into. Coming up there’s also Lockdown LitFest - the programme is yet to be confirmed but high profile names like Ian Rankin, Joanna Harris and Philip Pullman have committed. While the Hay Festival is unfortunately cancelled, they have upped their digital offering with a new podcast, and Hay Player offers content from past festivals. 

Get into Booktube

If you haven’t discovered ‘Booktube’ yet, now is the ideal time. Book vlogging YouTubers have rallied to provide content, host quizzes and ‘Cosy Reading’ nights, as well as sharing their usual TBR, ‘haul’ and review videos. There’s an art to finding your favourite booktubers, but some recommendations include Savidge Reads and Lauren and the Books who have both been providing stellar lockdown content. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter as well as YouTube to get the most out of their livestreams and readathons.

This article was written by Ellen Orange and Rosie Doyle 

Header Image Credit: Image by Pexels from Pixabay


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