What bibliophile hasn’t fantasized about a weekend at home with nothing but a stack of books for company? The fantasy! The mental stimulation! The much needed escape from the real world into where none of the drama is yours.
Well, instead of waiting for a mythical free weekend to appear in your busy life — plan one!
Follow these tips to create a special Weekend Reading Retreat in your own home. If the chilly weather makes you wish for a warm drink, a soft chair, and a thick book, you could be living the dream by tomorrow, if you want.
First, you need a plan. Treat it just like a trip. You wouldn’t travel without preparing a place to stay. So do these things before your dream weekend, and you won’t have to worry about annoying interruptions.
Make sure to block off your calendar, so no sneaky activities ruin your reading. If you’re tempted to add just one little thing, ask yourself, Is it worth giving up my reading weekend, something I might do only once or twice a year?
If you’re finding it hard to say “no,” pretend you’re going out of town: “Oh darn, I can’t! I’m going on a retreat.” As an important bonus, you’ll seem fancy and mysterious.
Shop for prepared meals and easy snacks so you don’t have to cook or run out for anything. Trust me, if you’re treating this like a read-a-thon, you don’t have time to be ordering delivery! Think about all the time you would have to spend deciding what to get, then getting dressed to answer the door — who needs that?!
The most you should do is stick something in the microwave or oven before sticking it in your mouth. One-handed foods are also ideal for reading.
Don’t forget about beverages. What’s your drink of choice? Coffee, tea, Diet Coke, Polar Springs, scotch? Stock the fridge, fill the kettle, set up the French press so you hardly have to look up from your book to stay hydrated.
You’ll want your favorite pillow, blanket, and sweater. It’s also important to have your socks or slippers, daytime pajamas (you know you have some), and your favorite giant mug. This is your uniform for the weekend, and none of the characters in your book will judge.
Do you enjoy music while you read? Pull out your records or find the perfect Spotify playlists — just do it all before your retreat starts.
Get things reasonably tidy the day before, and you should be able to go 2 to 3 days without vacuuming or doing laundry. No, really, you can.
If you really feel like the dishes must be washed or you want to fluff your nest at the end of the day, set a timer for 30 minutes of domestic duties.
What if you live with kids? There are worse things you could do than shush them for 2 days while you plow through a stack of books. Take them to the library before your retreat and let them get anything they want. Movies and audio books count too.
Turn them out in the backyard while you keep reading, get them a new LEGO set that’s a few years above their ability level, give them a 1,000-piece puzzle. Let them have extra screen time. I’m not even kidding. For one weekend, no one is going to lose IQ points.
Maybe there are other distracting people in your home, a partner or a roommate who is not so thrilled about a solid weekend of reading. First, get those toxic people out of your life.
Or fine, if you find them otherwise redeemable, set your boundaries and tell them they’re free to weekend however they wish! You could even treat yourself to a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Don’t panic, but consider stashing your phone away. Emergencies are rare.
The kind of person who wants to drop everything and read for a whole weekend probably already has a 5-foot to-be-read (TBR) pile by the bed. Take a few minutes to see which 3 to 5 books call to you. Does that sound like too many? Pick one.
Paralyzed by indecision? Sort them alphabetically and pick the third one from the top or bring it back to kindergarten and do “eenie meenie miney mo.” Whatever ritual you need, just start one because — controversial opinion coming — you can abandon it if it doesn’t grip you right away.
The whole point of this weekend is to enjoy your books in whatever way works for you. Maybe that means taking a nap while they lay in piles around you on the sofa. If it means re-reading Harry Potter and watching all the movies, it’s all good.
Finally, don’t forget to feed the cat
She’s an integral part of this retreat, and will need nourishment for all the extra snuggling.
Anna Lee Beyer writes about mental health, parenting, and books. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.