It’s spooky how the Internet seems to know what we are interested in. Okay, not spooky, more to do with algorithms and targeted marketing. Which must be why adverts and posts for writer’s retreats keep popping up in my feed.
The World Wide Web knows that I’m a writer. Surely it must also know I’m a reader? I download books all the time. I belong to several online book groups and am a member of my favorite bookstore’s book club. But I never get offered the chance to go to a ‘reader’s retreat.’ That made me wonder, is there such a thing?
I did what I always do when I’m curious and near a keyboard, I typed ‘reader’s retreat’ into Google. I discovered that Bill Gates schedules ‘reading retreats’ twice a year where he dedicates a week to read all the books he’s put aside. Not quite what I had in mind.
I kept digging but didn’t exactly come up with gold. Here’s what I found:
According to articles in The Telegraph and Condé Nast Traveler, the U.K. based organization, The School of Life has teamed up with Living Architecture to offer self-catered/self-hosted mini breaks where you can read within the walls of houses that are also cutting edge architecture. First, you have a 40-minute phone consultation with a ‘bibliotherapist’ who writes you a ‘reading prescription.’ Have your ‘prescription’ made up (at the nearest bookstore, or via your reading device), grab some family and/or friends, and head to one of their drop dead gorgeous properties like Balancing Barn, pictured below. Sounds interesting but, what if friends or family aren’t readers too? You may not get much reading or book discussion out of an expensive long weekend.
But alas, the links supplied in both articles are defunct. I typed ‘reading retreat’ into The School of Life’s search function and received zero results. I went back to the articles: The Telegraph was 2011 and I couldn’t find a date for Condé Nast Traveler. Guess this venture didn’t work out.
Next, I thought I’d found a reading retreat in Bulgaria. That same article in The Telegraph, mentioned above, and one in Salon had references to Deb Snow and her Reading Retreat in Rural Bulgaria. Again, the links in both articles went nowhere. I did a little more searching and discovered that Snow now runs Yoga retreats. If that’s your thing, here’s more information.
When I found Trip Advisor’s listing, Reading Retreats in Rural Italy, with reviews from 2015, I thought, “Finally!” But the information is confusing. I was redirected twice until I came to La Macchina Fissa, a rambling property that invites guests, but it is not a hotel, it’s a cultural association which hosts events. To stay at La Macchina Fissa, you must join the association. ‘Reading retreats’ are mentioned under Staying Here but there is no further explanation. Looks lovely, the reviews on Trip Advisor range from ‘very good’ to ‘excellent,’and it’s not far from Mantua, pictured, which holds a literary festival ever year. The festival is on my travel wish list for 2017; think I’ve just found my accommodation.
So, to answer my question, “what about retreats for readers?,” I have to conclude that there are just no takers out there. We readers, like Bill Gates, just need time, solitude and books. And if we want to talk about what we are reading, there are plenty of reading groups out there, both real and virtual.
YouTube Channel: Oswaldo Armendariz
Featured image via Flickr
h/t Book Riot