Saturday, May 09, 2015

Life is a Readathon

You all know that I'm an avid reader, right?  But I never used to read for leisure in the middle of the day.  I guess it's the result of student life and then working life for so many years, but I tended to read in the "in between" times -- essentially, in bed before falling asleep, or if I was eating a meal alone, or if I was waiting somewhere, or -- as a big luxury -- sitting in bed with a big mug of coffee on Sunday mornings.  Reading during the day was appropriate vacation behavior, but otherwise, reading in the middle of the day felt like decadence.

It's silly isn't it? I value reading hugely.  I firmly believe that reading is never a waste of time.  If someone else told me that they sat and read in the middle of the afternoon, say, I would been impressed and even envious, probably. And yet the thought of just sitting and reading in the middle of an afternoon provoked a little puritanical voice in my head that scolded me and told me I should be doing something PRODUCTIVE.

Somewhere along the way, a few years back, it occurred to me that the prohibition was silly and pointless. And since then, from time to time, I'd let myself read a bit in the afternoon.  It was like taking a short nap, but better.  My favorite place is the living room couch, stretched out with a view out the window and dappled shadows from the leaves outside dancing along wall.  It is the ultimate treat, to just sink into my comfy couch and open a book.

At one point, reading Mary Ann Moss's blog (oh how I adore her), I stumbled onto an entry in which she described taking herself off on a reading retreat. I'd never thought about it -- although I suppose many of my vacations could be considered reading retreats, I hauled so many books along.  Mary Ann referenced an article in Salon magazine that talked about reading retreats, too.  What a concept!  The thought of dedicating an entire vacation to reading just delighted me.

So far, I've only done it for part of a weekend -- a day and a bit more. Even so, it felt like the ultimate luxury, to let myself just read fiction and do nothing else.  Even in my own home, with the laundry piled up in the laundry room and dust settling on the blinds in the family room, it felt like a mini-vacation.

Earlier this week, I came across a blog that talked about an entire "readathon" week, where people sign up to read intensively (or as intensively as their lives will allow, I guess) for an entire week.  It's coming up, and runs from May 11 to May 17, 2015.  I have to confess that I had to hunt around to find out what the point of a readathon was -- and it looks like it's designed to get people to commit to reading for a week, and to post their progress on a daily basis as a motivation to read.  One can set goals, or not, and there are even prizes.

Perhaps your average non-reader type needs a reason to read -- and maybe "Sorry, honey, I can't cook dinner tonight, I have to read my novel for the readathon" is a good enough reason to stop everything and just get lost in a novel or two or three.

Me, I think life is a readathon.  During the day, even!  Shall I print a t-shirt?



  1. Oh, you have me longing to do this now! Ask my husband and kids how heavy my bags are when we go to Cape Cod and why: one giant tote bag: art supplies; another giant tote bag: books; small totebag: one pair of jeans, a heavy sweater and a lighter sweater, two t-shirts, and a scarf. I don't dress up in Cape Cod.

    Nothing is better than reading on the beach. Or so it was. Nowadays, with the heat I tend to nod off over a page, but those "smurry" days when it is just cold enough for a sweatshirt? I can sit bundled up with a hat and blanket and tuck myself behind a dune, and never look up from a book.

    Think we should meet somewhere and do just that!

  2. The self interdiction against reading in the daytime is not that uncommon. I've wondered if it has something to do with our age. Once I visited a friend in a distant state and slept in after my arrival late the night before. It was about 8:30am when I came down the stairs and found her in the living room reading a novel. I was speechless - reading in the morning? What an outrageous thing to be doing. I had to laugh at myself, my hostess was her own person doing what she loved to do. It is a lesson I carry to this day and I take a reading break whenever the mood strikes. Living alone helps.