KEARNEY — What are you reading during the pandemic?

Ask a friend that question and watch their shoulders relax. Watch a softness sparkle in the eyes. Watch the lips ease into a smile.

Listen to the friend talk with delight or introspection or indignation about the books he or she is buried in.

COVID-19 had closed coffee houses and shuttered schools, but it has given many people unexpected time to indulge in books.

Deb Hollman spends four hours on Wednesday and Sundays at Kearney Public Library. She settles into a soft chair in front of a fireplace and reads until the library closes.

Her favorite book is Max Lucado’s “Anxious About Nothing.”

“Everyone needs to read this book right now,” she said. “Anyone who needs help with anxiety and depression and stress during the pandemic needs to read this.”

She is nourished by inspirational books like “Made to Crave” by Lisa TerKeurst and “Hope in the Dark” by Craig Croeschel.

“I’ve been reading since I was in fourth grade in Columbus. My dad would drop us off at the library on Saturday. I’d take out a dozen books and read them all in a day in a half,” she said.

But as an adult, Hollman had little time to read until she retired a year ago as a teller at First National Bank.

Now, she can’t get enough of books. She has downloaded all 13 of the books in Jan Karon’s Father Tim series.

Christy Walsh, assistant director of the KPL, said people have kept reading any way they could during the COVID-19 pandemic, even when the library closed for three months starting in mid-March. “When we couldn’t have doors open, our patrons were actively downloading books. They were excited when we did curbside service. People really missed us.”

Since the library reopened June 16, books about the pandemic and issues related to Black Lives Matter are popular, according to KPL director Matt Williams. Escapist literature is popular, too, as are new books by best-selling authors like Jeffrey Deaver and David Baldacci.

We asked a handful of Kearney residents what they’ve been reading this summer. Enjoy. Pick up a book and join them.