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Mancunians choose reading over TV in difficult times says new survey

When choosing what to read, the most important thing for Mancunians is how it’s going to affect them emotionally

New research commissioned by the Publishers Association reveals the crucial role a love of literature plays in the personal development of Mancunians. 

The survey, including a nationally representative sample of 2000 respondents, explores how books are providing support to the nation as we navigate the challenges of modern life and embrace our personal identities.

During challenging times, Mancunians turn to books as half (48.5 per cent) said they read as a form of escapism from daily life.

They find reading to be one of the most valuable ways to support their well-being with three-fifths (60.6 per cent) saying reading a book was one of the most likely ways to improve their mood – more than watching television (52 per cent) and even talking to friends (42.7 per cent). 

When choosing what to read, the most important thing for Mancunians is how it’s going to affect them emotionally.

Almost two in five (34.5 per cent) look for books that will lift their mood and another 38.5 per cent want a book that will help them relax and be calm.

And the benefits are clear, as two in five (42.9 per cent) said that reading helped them understand how to relax.

For many, reading is also a vital tool for self-discovery, helping them to grow in confidence and learn about themselves.

More than one in four (25.6 per cent), said reading helped them understand who they were and 21.9 per cent noted that reading gave them the confidence to embrace themselves.

Reading was also shown to help us understand and relate to those around us as one in five (19.1 per cent) read to understand other people’s perspectives whilst 18.5 per cent read to learn about different cultures.

Two in five (45.1 per cent) said “I am who I am today because of the books I’ve read”.

“Throughout the pandemic, reading became a way of escaping reality and a crutch to millions,” said Stephen Lotinga, CEO of Publishers Association.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see that the habit is sticking, with well over half (56 per cent) of Brits saying they’re reading more than they did before Covid-19.

“The importance of books and reading cannot be overstated, particularly given the social challenges around educational attainment and the worryingly low levels of reading for pleasure in children.

“Our research also shows that books are central to personal wellbeing and help us navigate the world better.

“Indeed, one in five (22 per cent) adults say that a book they read encouraged them to make a major life decision or take up a new hobby or pastime, opening up new avenues for exploration across professional and personal lives.

“The role of publishers is to connect people with stories that move them, create conversations and spark ideas. This has never been more important in our polarised world.

“As an industry, we need to sustain and build on our love affair with reading by ensuring that everyone can see themselves in books and have access to them, wherever and however they want to read.”

To motivate more people to read, the Publishers Association has launched the #BookThatMadeMe campaign, encouraging people to share the books that made them who they are today.

“As a child, my library card had been my passport to joy and fostered my love of reading,” said Ashley Thorpe, development editor at Sweet Cherry Publishing, who is from Manchester.

“Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy had a transformative impact on me.

“He taught himself to read covertly, at a time in the States when he would have been punished for it, had he been found out.

“In the way Wright described how reading became his escape and saviour, I realised that I saw myself – possibly for the first time – in a book.

“After reading about Wright’s struggles, I was motivated to start writing my own novel manuscript.

“Mentally, I was able to see that, actually, black writers and their stories and essays did have incredible value, not just for leisure but academically.

“As an extension, I was able to understand that who I was and what I had to say carried value, too”.

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