Heavenly Reading Retreats

August 17, 2011

What could be better than snuggling up with a book in a cosy corner? How about cuddling up with a book in a cosy corner in a cool cottage, resort, or even castle, somewhere exotic with delicious meals provided? I’m swooning.

A variety of special reading-themed retreats have surfaced in the news lately and I’ve been eager to share the findings with you. While holidays are lovely and preparation usually involves drafting an ambitious reading list, I do hear those plans sometimes get pushed aside when other vacation-oriented activities vie for attention. The solution to this challenge? A Reading Retreat where reading is the sole pursuit … well with maybe a little wine drinking and book chatter – but only if one chooses. The locations can range from architecturally extreme homes in Suffolk to Italian or Bulgarian castles. My personal dream location? Full on charm on the West Coast of Scotland, lighthouse included.

The School of Life is a fascinating endeavour founded in 2008 and based in London, England. Its premise is to “offer a variety of programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well. The School of Life is a place to step back and think intelligently … from philosophy to literature, psychology to the visual arts – to tickle, exercise and expand your mind. You’ll meet other curious, sociable and open-minded people in an atmosphere of exploration and enjoyment.

On staff are Bibliotherapists who interview clients in order to “prescribe” a personalized reading list. “Our bibliotherapists will meet you at The School of Life for an in-depth, one-on-one conversation about your reading history and interests.   Over tea or strong coffee, you will be invited to share the particular area of concern or curiosity that you would like to address. Following the discussion, you will be given an immediate reading prescription.  A longer list will be sent to you by email within the next few days.” And then … the Retreat comes into play. You may take your list on a Reading Weekend to one of several beautiful locations where reading and inspiration are the only items on the agenda. A partnership with Living Architecture provides access to some stunning home choices. They must be seen to be believed so click here to help imagine yourself there.

If you are interested in socializing a little along with your reading then there are School of Life retreats that cater to that too. My dreamy favourite (which I’ll share here if you promise not to tell toooooo many people!) is at Turnberry Wells in Scotland. Well known writers (like David Nicholls of One Day fame) are invited to facilitate conversations about writing and reading. Groups are kept to an intimate 18 members or so and while long walks and some visiting is fostered, quiet reading time is strongly encouraged. Count me in! For full details of the event, click here. Beware the swoon.

To learn more about the Reading Retreat experience, follow these links to articles in The Telegraph and Salon. Both worth reading in my opinion.

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