Feeling lockdown fatigue? ‘Squeeze in a read,’ says book campaign

President Higgins supports campaign offering personalised book recommendations and access to e-books

A campaign to “get Ireland reading during Covid” has been welcomed by President Michael D Higgins, who described the initiative as “such a good idea”.

The campaign sees local authority libraries teamed-up with publishers, booksellers and authors to ask people to “squeeze in a read” on or before Ireland Reads Day on February 25th.

While the libraries are not open for browsing or borrowing due to Covid restrictions, library members can use the library BorrowBox service online and choose from more than 44,000 e-books and 33,000 audiobooks.

The website irelandreads.ie offers book recommendations suited to a person's interests and the time they have available. There are more than 800 recommendations from librarians all around the country. Users may enter their favourite type of book and how long they would like to read each day, and the website will offer book suggestions and work out how long it will take to complete.


A number of campaign ambassadors from the worlds of writing, science, sport and broadcasting are helping to promote the campaign. They include Rick O’Shea, Áine Ní Ghlinn, Emma Donoghue, Sarah Webb, Sebastian Barry, Frank Ormsby, Luke O’Neill, Kevin Barry, Patricia Scanlan, Melanie Murphy, Sarah Fitzgerald, Ray Cuddihy, Prof Ian Robertson, Dr Tony Bates, Jenny Egan, Prof John Sharry and Dr Colman Noctor.

The campaign illustrations were created by well-known illustrator Tara O’Brien and Denis Kilty has created a unique musical composition for the campaign. The campaign is led by the libraries development unit at the Local Government Management Agency.

‘Improve wellbeing’

Frank Feighan, Fine Gael TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health and Wellbeing said “there is growing evidence that reading can lift our mood, reduce the symptoms of depression and improve wellbeing throughout life.”

Mr Higgins said the initiative was well placed in the Government’s Keep Well strategy to help people tackle the mental health difficulties associated with the Covid-19 restrictions.

Commending libraries and library staff Mr Higgins modified a metaphor first used by the the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, describing libraries as “the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life”.

He also expressed his admiration for the National Adult Literacy Agency saying it was a wonderful thing “to give the gift of reading to another”. Mr Higgins encouraged everyone to read either a book, a poem, a magazine or a comic “whatever the eye might fall upon” as part of the campaign.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist