For many years – several decades actually – I have enjoyed “Reading Week” every December. It is an invention of my own.
During most of my professional life I was an independent journalist. I wrote mostly for newspapers and much of my time was spent pitching stories, finding stories, convincing people to let me interview them for stories, and so on in that vein. When you work freelance you do it all yourself.
You can write any time, of course, but when it comes to selling the idea to a publication and rounding up subjects to people your stories, there is one time during the year when you will face incredible obstacles. It’s a time when nobody cares about your ideas. Nobody wants to spend any of their precious time answering your silly questions.
And when is that time? It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Freelance writers who actually earn a living are driven people. We have to be. Let your guard down and it costs you money. Plain and simple. I have to say, I worked pretty hard most of the time. And the first couple years I just couldn’t believe that it wasn’t possible to make any progress during that one week.
So just to keep my spirits up, I decided to make my own holiday of that week. I called it Reading Week and it was just that. For seven days I could read as much as I wanted, all day if I so chose, and anything I wanted to read. And since it was an official holiday, with its own name, I was not allowed to feel any guilt for goofing off. That was a strict rule.
Over the years I began looking forward to reading week more and more. I planned for it. I collected books for it. And then I relished every moment of the week when it finally arrived. I think I even converted some of my friends to celebrating the “holiday.”
But now it’s over. Done in by a virus. King Covid murdered Reading Week. It’s not that I haven’t been doing any work during this long pandemic stay-at-home time, but I naturally read a lot more than I used to be able to. How can Reading Week be special when you can take any week you want and make it a celebration of the book?
I don’t know if it’s dead forever. Maybe this is just a sad blip in a long story. And it certainly isn’t the most serious fallout from the pandemic. Not even close.
I loved Reading Week. Yet I walked through the end of last year without it. Still, it will live on in my heart, if nowhere else.
Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer who has been collecting women’s stories for more than twenty years. You can read the first chapter of her award-winning book, Lonely River Village, at NormaLibman.com.