Colombian Sergio Rojas, 19, cannot stop reading the thriller police set in Madrid The gypsy bride, by Carmen Mola, while she takes care of her nephew in the Temple of Debod. “During confinement I have come across reading because I didn’t know what to do,” says Rojas. He reads for pure entertainment, but also for his profession: “I started my film career this year and I need encouragement to fill my head with stories.” This book intersperses it with two others: one of self-help, to interpret what surrounds him, and one of the adventures of detective Sherlock Holmes in English. Madrid is the Spanish region that reads the most with 77.7%, almost 10 points more than the national average (68.8%), according to the study Reading and Book Buying Habits in 2020 prepared by the Community Culture Council. Most of the people do it for leisure (73%) and the rest only for work or study reasons. The average per Madrid is thus situated at 12 books a year, which employs about 10.5 hours a week on this activity.
A sunny Friday afternoon in February has invited some readers to come out of their homes and breathe fresh air. Irma Yruegas (Mexico City, 23 years old) believes that one of the ideal places for this is the Parque del Oeste in Madrid, due to the views of the Casa de Campo. “I didn’t have much to do and, to read at home, well I came here.” She is not an assiduous reader because during her career – she studied Tourism at the Complutense University – it was not her priority. You don’t put out a number of books per month because if you can’t find a good story, you can go without reading for a while. The pandemic has influenced her relationship with literature: “During confinement I was a bit bored and I read some books to learn and cultivate myself.” That is why, apart from love novels, he likes the self-help genre as Super Attractor written by Gabrielle Bernstein. Although it is in English, it is not a problem for her because she spent three years in the United States. In the Community of Madrid, 89.7% of those who have received bilingual education read in other languages, compared to 34.6% among those who have not studied a second language.
“I take advantage of the half hour it takes to come to the center”, says a reader in the subway
Deyra Cristina Sevilla (Nicaragua, 24 years old) waits at the Moncloa interchange for interurban bus 627, which goes to Villafranca. The journey home takes about 30 minutes: “It gives me time to read a few pages each way.” The chosen book is The Map of affections, by Ana Merino, 2020 Nadal Novel Prize winner. It tells the story of Valeria and her search to understand the meaning of love. In the subway, everyone looks attentively at their mobile phones or tablets. Perhaps someone is also reading through your screen. According to the study, 35.6% of the Madrid population reads books in digital format. Among them, in the suburban are the 28-year-old Josu Rodríguez, from Bilbao, who when he leaves his house in Opañel he does so in the company of his paper book: “The half hour it takes to come to the center I take advantage of it.” And it is not trivial, since he considers that on average he spends about seven or eight hours of reading a day and is capable of buying six titles a week. “Many are second-hand, because if not, it won’t work for me.” The time he dedicates is justified by work and vocation, he is a Philosophy student and wants to start his doctorate. The research will focus on his favorite author, José Ortega y Gasset: “I love the role of metaphor in the search for a vital vocation.”
Although 99.6% read at home, there is 25% of the total who also enjoy reading on public transport. Although the use of this medium has decreased by 13 points compared to 2018 due to the pandemic. But the director of the Madrid Libraries Guild, Enrique Pascual, considers that this is the difference with other cities. “It takes around 45 minutes on average to go to your job or class,” says Pascual. For his part, the president of the Madrid Publishers Association, Manuel González, points out that: “Madrid has a good network of public libraries. In addition, education and the income level of the city are important ”.
No bookstore in the region has closed due to the covid, says Enrique Pascual, president of the Madrid Libraries Guild.
Tradition and family support are essential for the habit to be taken from an early age, since on average, respondents consider that their reading hobby began at 14. Mexican Magdalena Llavona, 60, remembers that when she was little and he got sick his mother gave him a book. Little by little, he developed a taste for the classics, such as Chekhov’s tales or The magic mountain by Thomas Mann, that devours every day. This reading habit tries to transmit Jesús Estrada (Oviedo, 71 years old) to his 8-year-old granddaughter. He has gone with her to the Troa bookstore, on Serrano street, to buy her a story about the characters Tea Stilton or Isadora Moon: “The truth is that she reads a lot so I’m delighted.
The president of the bookstore union points out that none of them have closed due to the covid in Madrid: “It has been a difficult year, but it has been shown that the book is an object that we cannot do without.” He believes that the work of the booksellers has been very important this year. Behind the counter of the Cervantes y Compañía bookstore is Marina San Martín. He is a lover of the crime novel genre. Together with his partners Raquel Vicedo, Alessandra Gatti and Christopher Holloway, he bought the premises located on Calle del Pez, which has a prominent section of detective novels. She recommends the book Six four, scored by Hideo Yokoyama. The pandemic has been a challenge and an opportunity. By overturning the entire catalog, they sell books throughout Spain and also meet with writers from different countries that broadcast to the whole world: “Social networks have allowed us to maintain contact with customers in a difficult year,” he admits.