A weekend in a house with other readers, a huge pile of books and a reading coach. Flow editor Marije van der Haar-Peters decided to give the reading retreat a try.
I decide to sign up for a reading retreat. Cécile Wilbers is a literature coach, and gives people personalized reading tips based on what suits them and what they’re interested in at this point in their lives. She got the idea for her weekend retreats after having heard so often that people don’t have enough time to really read all the wonderful books she recommends. So here I am, on a Friday afternoon, driving to a former game warden’s house (picture a little white house with a thatched roof, fireplace, floral wallpaper and large rustic kitchen) at an estate in a rural part of the country.
I am surrounded by walnut trees, fields, farmland and even a pumpkin patch, as far as the eye can see. The view lends itself well for musing about the book between reading sessions. The aromas of soup and pie permeate the interior, and a beautiful little notebook and pencil have been laid out on my bed.
This relaxed, informal, almost carefree vibe remains throughout the weekend; no mandatory schedule, you are welcome to eat breakfast when you feel like it or even crawl back into bed with your book. There are no responsibilities when it comes to meals and the corresponding chores. It takes some getting used to in the beginning, suddenly not having to finish something or be somewhere. But the peace and quiet required to read is something I will be recreating when I get home.
As the other six participants slowly arrive in the hours that follow, I realize our motivations for being here don’t differ all that much. None of us get around to reading as much as we would like to, and we are all looking forward to a weekend for ourselves, no full schedules and no distractions.
Before I came here, I thought it might be awkward to suddenly share a living room with complete strangers, but this fear soon goes. We exchange book recommendations now and then, but then we return to our books and the only sound I hear is the turning of pages. There is something cozy about reading with other people and it has a connecting effect, even if you’re all reading different books.
- The complete story can be found in Issue 27.
- Want to experience a reading retreat yourself? For UK, check out this website, for US try this one.
Text Marije van der Haar-Peters Photography Ksenia Makagonova/Unsplash.com