It is a truth universally acknowledged that crime fiction is an amazing genre of literature, and that it’s a great way to escape from your troubles.
What I’ve been saying for years has finally been proved true, as the lockdown has shown. New figures have shown that crime fiction sales are up from the same period in 2019.
Book sales overall are up, because everyone’s bored and stuck in their houses with none of their friends to take away their credit cards and stop them buying shit they don’t need on the internet. As the financial impact of the virus is still hurting everyone, even those lucky enough to have kept their jobs, many consumers looked for affordable luxuries that could make themselves feel better and keep them occupied, and they stumbled upon books.
So, between the availability of online stores and the boredom, many people have started buying new books to fill up their bookshelves, and their time. When you think that reading is a solitary activity, with a reduced risk of catching the virus, it’s the perfect solution for relieving pandemic boredom and the lockdown blues.
But why crime fiction? What is it that draws readers towards mystery novels and gripping thrillers?
Personally, I’ve always loved crime fiction and mystery because it gives me a chance to escape into a world that’s slightly worse than the one I’m living in currently.
I also love the fact that there are so many different types of crime fiction out there, so there’s a mystery novel for every mood. If I’m in need of something comforting, then cosy crime fiction is there for me. On the other hand, if I want something gripping and gory, then there are dark police procedurals to check out.
With so many different sub genres within the crime fiction label, it’s easy to see why so many readers are turning to it while they’re stuck indoors and in need of some reading material to keep them occupied. There’s something for everyone, and there are crime fiction and thriller novels set in almost every country and period of history, so whatever your fancy, you’ll find something that you want to read.
Crime fiction often crosses over into the comedy and romance genres, which is great for the pandemic, as readers might want a bit of a laugh as well as some thrills and excitement. This diverse genre offers it all, so readers don’t have to choose between different emotions and reactions.
Also, there’s so much crime fiction out there of all types, with new novels released all the time. Some readers might have put off buying a new book because their TBR (to be read) was huge- like mine! However, when faced with the prospect of being stuck inside, they might’ve caved and bought every book they’ve always wanted, with a view to reading more during the lockdown.
It has to be said, from what I’ve heard from fellow readers and my own personal experiences, not many of us made much of a dent in our TBR piles, never mind the new books we bought! That being said, new books always make us happy, so they’ve served one function at least.
Another reason for crime fiction’s popularity is that it is a chance to escape from the madness of reality, without having to learn another world’s rules and ideals, as you do with fantasy fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy novel, but they require a lot more concentration and time investment than crime fiction books.
With crime fiction, you’re transported to a version of life that’s pretty similar to yours now, or a bygone time whose rules are easily explained. There, you encounter monsters and fiends, just like in fantasy fiction, but in this case, they’re ordinary humans. Readers can relate to the characters, while at the same time be repulsed by their behaviour. In a world that seems to have gone insane, crime fiction offers a much-needed respite from all the crazy news stories.
In all, I think that it’s a combination of escapism and diversity that’s made crime fiction such a popular choice for readers during the pandemic. In the future, I hope that readers continue to buy books from their favourite authors and support them as we all navigate the insane ‘new normal’ together.