Create a reading retreat in 5 easy steps

Looking for a low-cost holiday to help you get through your pile of books? A reading retreat might just be the mini-break you need

Photography: Stuart Simpson for Penguin

Holidays can be a frustrating experience for bookworms. The time, inevitable chaos, and expense of traveling to somewhere far-reaching when really all your heart desires is a comfy chair and a good book. No wonder that reading retreats – a holiday dedicated to reading, usually in an idyllic setting – has become an appealing option to so many.

Reading retreats typically offer a distraction-free space with bibliotherapists on hand to provide you with personalised recommendations and chefs to whip up delicious meals while you discuss what you've been reading with fellow guests. It sounds, admittedly, like a perfect bookwormy getaway. But if money is tight then you can recreate the experience at home on a snip of the budget.

Once you've decided on your DIY retreat timeframe, preparing everything you will need before hand is key to maximising your reading time and feeling refreshed enough to embrace the real world again. Here are our handy tips to get you started.

1. Prepare your space

You may have enough in the holiday fund for a rental somewhere you can escape to – a shepherd's hut in the middle of nowhere would certainly do the trick – but if home is the only option, don't despair. A little refresh to your usual reading spot will make it feel like new. Think extra pillows, soft blankets, and a warm drinks station stocked with plenty of snacks to give it those boutique hotel vibes ready for you to bunker down with your pile of books.

2. Choose the books

Arguably the fun bit: choosing what to read ahead of your retreat will mean you'll be turning to page one straight away rather than procrastinating over your bookshelves. You may already have a shelf brimming with books that you are yet to read or if you are looking for the perfect excuse to visit your local bookshop then this might just be it!

Depending on the length of your retreat you could complete a reading challenge or attempt to read a book a day. And if you are still struggling for inspiration then we have plenty of reading recommendations to get you started from time-traveling adventures to historical fiction full of sizzling romance and drama.

Explore our reading lists

3. Be careful with the invites

As soon as you mention you are bunking down with books and endless snacks to your nearest and dearest they may want to join you. Who wouldn't? If having people around you is going to distract you from your time reading then try suggesting they create their own reading nook nearby and dedicated moments to join forces. Which leads us to our next tip...

Photography: Stuart Simpson for Penguin

4. Create an itinerary

Even the most seasoned bookworms will know that reading non-stop for a full day is hard. To keep the momentum try breaking up your time into designated chunks. Use audiobooks for when your eyes are getting tired or dedicate a slot for book club chat if there is a group of you. Grab the popcorn and watch your favourite book-to-screen adaptation. Bonus points if it’s based on the book you’ve been reading!

5. Cook up a literary feast

Most paid-for reading retreats come with other people whipping up culinary delights but if your can't afford endless takeaways then cooking up a feast might be the perfect way to recharge your batteries whilst giving it a literary twist. Books are full of food references from The Very Hungry Caterpillar's extensive snack list to the delectable Supper Club by Lara Williams, a novel packed full of mouth-watering treats. Taking inspiration from your favourite books to prepare your own feast will be the icing on the cake for an indulgent couple of days immersed in the world of literature.

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