Saturday, 17 February 2018

Reading - better than a spa

You've heard of yoga retreats and spa retreats, and you've probably heard of creative writing or painting retreats but could the next big thing in relaxation be a reading retreat? 

Cressida Downing apologises that dinner's five minutes late tonight but they had to wait, she explains, for Annie to finish her chapter. 

Co-founder Cressida, a freelance editor, said: "The idea came to me because I'd had a difficult year and my husband said, 'why don't you do a spa retreat?'. I thought, well, I could - but my books would get soggy.
"What I really needed was a reading retreat. And I couldn't find one - and I thought it can't just be me who wants this!"
So with her business partner, photographer Sara Noel, Cressida tentatively set up the Reading Retreat.
All the retreats take place in cosy seaside or countryside cottages and there's only one rule - the reading room must be kept silent at all times.

Holidays devoted only to reading appear to be a growing trend in our time-starved world, with several operators offering varying levels of organisation and comfort.
Some retreats use "alone" time for personal reflection as well as reading, some offer glamorous castle settings, while others - like Alain de Botton's Life House in Wales - are in remote locations and deliberately ape monastic life.
But they all share one goal - to stop readers just snatching 20 minutes of reading time on the train home and instead to concentrate their minds on reading at length and for pleasure.

A 2014 government survey suggested that 41% of 25 to 39-year-olds said they were reading for pleasure less than they used to, and that almost a quarter of all adults in the UK hadn't read a single book for pleasure in the previous year.
Leading British authors like Susan Hill and Howard Jacobson have warned recently that our digital addiction is ruining our concentration and our ability to read at length.
At the Reading Retreat, phones and tablets aren't banned but Cressida and Sara do offer to confiscate them on arrival to encourage a digital detox. A fresh air break is also advised to avoid guests becoming cross-eyed. 

"Reading is not a passive thing," Cressida says. "Reading is about engaging and connecting. And reading - as scientists have discovered - does wonderful things for your brain and longevity and health so really, we're probably better for you than a spa."

God Bless