I love reading, it’s my favourite activity and has led directly to working in publishing and bookselling. Like everyone else, though, real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of all the books I’d like to read. Like everyone else in publishing, my ‘need to read’ pile is huge and I don’t even get to pile up my ‘want to read’ books.
Although I read on holidays, I have to squeeze it around family time and sightseeing, which I also enjoy, but it doesn’t really satisfy the reading urge.
I decided to have a Reading Retreat, where reading was the focus and I didn’t have to excuse myself from social situations, or feel like I was missing out on exciting excursions.
We’re all going on a reading retreat
By ‘we’ I mean me. And by ‘reading retreat’ I really mean me and fifteen books going on a little holiday.
I have cleared a space in my work, got my home responsibilities off-loaded, and I’m going to stay in a residential library – for four days. I’ve never been on a reading retreat before so I’m making it up as I go along. Here are my initial rules on how to have a reading retreat:
1) It must be somewhere else
A trip purely for reading. Not a holiday where you have to squeeze precious reading time away from trivialities such as seeing the Grand Canyon and so on.
2) You must be able to be anti-social
I’m going on my own and don’t intend to make any friends.
3) Travelling there must involve reading
I’ll be taking a very lengthy train trip to start me off on the right track.
4) Someone else is going to do the adult-stuff for you
I will not be making any of my own food for four days (or cooking for anyone else!)
5) Technology needs to be absent or at least reduced
I adore my Kindle but I want to get back to reading basics and there’s something about a crisp new book that a crisp new electronic file can’t compete with. I’m also intending to only be online for a short window each day.
6) Comfort is key
We can safely say I will not be dressing to impress, I don’t want a belt digging in while I’m nose-deep into my book of choice.
7) Take notes
Not an essay on each book but just a few quick notes to remind you when the retreat is done.
8) A quick break
I am going to try and do a short walk once a day to refresh my reading palate too – a little bit of moving stirred in to some serious sloth.
(I have a serious reading + eating habit.)
10) No burn out
I often find myself crashing through work and house and admin in a desperate attempt to take a few days off, and then I sleep through those few days or come down with an exhaustion cold or fever. Not this time. I’m tapering off with work and leaving the washing up for someone else.
The Reading Retreat
I organised my own Reading Retreat as no-one was offering them, so I thought I’d run them for other people. With my business partner, Sara Nöel, we are offering space and time to read and relax. Our small group retreats include personalised Reading Prescriptions before you come, and all food and wine while you’re at the retreat.
We’ve chosen lovely houses around the country, concentrating on comfort and beautiful surroundings.
If you would like us to help you remember what you love about reading, have a look at www.readingretreat.co.uk/
Cressida Downing, The Book Analyst, has worked in publishing and bookselling for over 20 years. As a freelance editorial consultant, she works for literary agents, publishers and directly for authors. She regularly attends conferences and runs workshop for aspiring authors . Following a lovely reading retreat experience, she is now offering these for others, www.readingretreat.co.uk She would buy books rather than clothes or food, and lives in East Anglia with two children, two cats, one husband and a baby gecko.