In recent years, we’ve treated ourselves an overnight reading retreat at the historic Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, but this year it’s sadly been cancelled due to Covid-19. So with restrictions tightening everywhere (and birthdays coming up), we decided to gift ourselves a cosy one day bookish retreat at home instead.
In these difficult times we need things to look forward and this seemed the best way to escape for while. What’s more it’s cheap, comfortable and theres no time wasted on travel or checking in. In fact the only barrier has been our own guilt surrounding the concept of lounging around pleasing ourselves for a few hours.
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What is a reading retreat?
In a nutshell, it’s time set away from all duties to read books without distraction, an opportunity to hide from the real world for a few hours.
When is the best time to organize a day to escape with books?
You can grant yourself a bookish day at any time of the year, but we prefer an Autumn retreat. The months of September to November are ripe for absorbing new ideas and just cold enough to justify wrapping yourself up in blanket.
Is it better to do a reading retreat at home on your own or with other people?
If you only have half a day then we’d say it’s better to do it on your own. Those minutes will fly by and you want to save every millisecond for your books. However, if you have a whole day or a weekend then sharing your bookish retreat with another bibliophile could really enrich the day. You could even read the same book and discuss it afterwards.
Do I need to budget for a reading retreat?
Creating a bookish sanctuary at home can be as low-cost or as expensive as you want it to be. The three essentials you need are:
- A book
- A place where you won’t be distracted
You can add to this as you see fit and we’ve added some suggestions in the 5 steps below:
Step One: Book Off Time to Read
This seems obvious, but how many of us actually gift ourselves space to enjoy reading without interruption? We definitely don’t. There’s always something else to do, especially with a young person to take care of. Weekends can be the best time, but taking a day off work for your bookish retreat can be extra-special. If you live with other people then the second option is also often a safer bet for peace and quiet.
Once you’ve made a decision, put your date in the diary and stick to it. Let friends and family know you’ll be busy on that day.
Step Two: Choose Titles for Your Reading Retreat
To reduce the chances of a book slump on the actual day, we recommend lining up a few reading options. These could include:
- Short books (128pp max)
- Books you really want to read from your TBR pile
- Poetry collections
- Middle-grade fiction
- A classic novel you’ve always wanted to start
To give yourself the best chance of gathering the books you most want to read, start to plan a month ahead. If funds are low then check out some of the suggestions in our post about building a book collection on a budget.
Don’t worry about finishing your books either. The main thing here is that you have time to read and explore ideas. No one will be judging your reading speed or completion rate. This is just about you and the words.
HOWEVER – if you would prefer to join a group and read together then check out these 8 reading challenges and readathons.
Step Three: Prepare Your Book Nook
You don’t have to create anywhere specific for your bookish retreat, but setting up a small book nook will add to the experience. If you already have a favourite reading spot then maybe focus on this area. Add cushions and throws to make the space more comfortable and re-arrange lighting to suit. We use stacking tables to get our reading station sorted so eveything is in easy reach.
Step Four: Stock Up On Supplies for Your Reading Retreat
The sole aim of your reading retreat is to block out time for bookish pursuits so make sure you have everything on hand a few days beforehand. Here’s what to consider:
- Snacks, food and drink (as easy to make as possible). Takeaways also an option
- A notepad and pen to record ideas
- Sticky tabs to annotate pages
- A scented candle for mood
- Playlists if you like to listen to music while you read