Discover more from Your Reading Life
Read and retreat
Retreats abound - yoga, meditation, company, team, wellness. I’ve gone on two reading retreats. On one of my reading retreats in Tacoma, I read Albert Wenger’s The World After Capital. I didn’t read that much. I had already read the book. I did reread a fair amount. But reading wasn’t the main aim. I took time to really digest what the book. To break up the reflection I went for a run and even spotted some seals floating in the Puget Sound!
More often than not, I read a book, then, when I’m done I put it down. I’ll even put it away. Occasionally, it’ll sit there in the back of my mind and the back of my mind will munch on it a bit. I’ll connect some aspect of the work to my daily life. Not always though. Sometimes I even start to wonder what the point of my reading even is. I forget pretty much all of it straightaway.
A reading retreat can be done alone or with others. If you’re solo you could rent a place somewhere nearby – city, like my trip to Tacoma near the water, or rural, or even somewhere related to the book you’re reading. (What if you read 100 Years of Solitude in Colombia, for instance. How cool would that be?) If you’re retreating with others, you could meet virtually, locally, or at a cabin in the countryside.
What would you do on your retreat? If you’re solo then talk to your journal. “Dear Journal, what is George Eliot trying to say by juxtaposing Dorothea and Rosamond? These two characters are insanely different!” A million prompts apply to any book you read, the most generic possible being: what is the author trying to communicate to, me, the reader. And you can also almost always find a reading group guide with questions to discuss. Journal about those. And to take breaks, enjoy nearby activities. A wine tasting. A run along the water like I did. Find a local happy hour. A hike up a mountain. Go ski a few runs.
If you go with others, dive deep into a great and long discussion about the author’s intentions and the characters you befriended or hated. Hear how others read the book and relate to a character, what they do or do not like, and most importantly, how they relate the book learnings to their lives. Break up conversation with some journaling to record your thoughts and learnings. And do not forget the fun activities.
You end up with a weekend dedicated to digesting the book you’ve read instead of putting it up on your shelf to gather dust like an old trophy.