Coronavirus: Are Books “Essentials”?

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Should books be classed as essentials in the current coronavirus confinement

CONTAINMENT: The question of reopening bookstores was asked on Thursday, before being swept away by the Syndicat de la librairie française

  • Asked Thursday morning about France Inter, Bruno Le Maire had raised the hypothesis of a reopening of bookstores to respond to competition from Amazon.
  • The conditions for reopening bookstores, closed since Sunday, have not yet been met, said the Syndicat de la librairie française.
  • Are books necessary products in times of coronavirus crisis? The question is valid.

The first week of confinement ends and it is not always easy to pass the time. Travel is prohibited except in very specific cases (to go to work if telework is impossible, to go shopping, to go to the doctor and to stretch your legs). This, provided you have a certificate. Only “first necessity” purchases are authorized.

Food is good, but when we have nothing to do and Netflix announces Thursday that it will reduce the speeds on all its streams in Europe to ease the pressure on the Internet, we wonder if counting our fingers will be enough to keep us busy for the next few weeks. In this context of confinement to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, books (novels, comics, essays …) may well be necessary for our survival.


A question of survival?

“As a lover of books and a bookseller for twenty years, I consider that reading is an essential activity”, underlines the president of the Syndicate of the French bookstore Xavier Moni who co-manages the Parisian bookstore Like a novel. However, he believes that the conditions for reopening bookstores, closed since Sunday, are not met to ensure the safety of teams and the public. “The first necessity is to face a health crisis of unprecedented magnitude,” he continued.

The book is an intellectual journey, a window open to the world. “In this regard, it constitutes a connection with the outside and arouses our imagination,” admits Robert Zuili, a clinical psychologist specializing in emotions. From there to imagine a confined suffocating in front of the empty shelves of his library, we must not exaggerate … The first necessity must meet needs related to survival.

“It would mean that the book would become as important as our basic needs. From this point of view, I don’t believe so, because it’s not true for everyone, ”insists Robert Zuili. We all need to eat, to sleep, but (unfortunately) we don’t all need to read. Especially in times of crisis, reading is not always relevant. “Some readers are so anxious that they can’t read,” he says. The thought is galloping and reading is not enough ”.


A symbol of freedom

According to the specialist in emotions, each of us favours a relationship with a different reality: an approach through the real (the anxious), through the imaginary and through the symbolic. “Those who are in the imagination will find in the book an escape that can be soothing,” he continues. For those who are in the symbolic dimension, the book becomes a symbol of freedom, of relationship ”. And it will allow him to forget the constraints of confinement. The book does not meet everyone’s needs in the same way. But those who find comfort there will have to do with what they find in their drawers until the bookstores reopen.

“I want to say:” reread the books you have at hand, “advises bookseller Xavier Moni. It is also not uninteresting from an emotional point of view to create a feeling of nostalgia. “Rereading a book can revive good moments, revive things that are associated with pleasant memories”, points Robert Zuili. And if that’s not enough, you can always find lots of things online here and thereStill, we have to accept losing the sensory relation to this object…

Coronavirus: Are Books “Essentials”? 1

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