My New Favorite Holiday

Look, I like weird, pagan traditions like dragging a live/soon-to-be-not-live tree in the house as much as the next confused American, but I’m the first to welcome a holiday that makes sense: National Readathon Day (January 24), sponsored by the National Book Foundation, Goodreads, Penguin Random House, and Mashable.

The first-ever holiday gave bookworms an all-day excuse to read—and if that isn’t cause for celebration, what the hell is? Not only did the holiday rake in donations for the National Book Foundation’s literacy programs, but it also raised awareness about some pretty bad news: 40 percent of American adults are barely proficient readers, and 14 percent can’t read at all. Yikes.

It’s too bad it takes a gimmick to remind me, a lapsed reader, of my first love, but the campaign was a much-needed call back to the book and a challenge to consider what my life would have been like without Wayside School and Hank the Cowdog and birthmarks and veils and maypoles and naked pictures of famous people (a lot less harebrained adventuring and thinking, is what). So I gave my measly $10 via FirstGiving, joined bookworms across America, and cracked open a brand-spankin’ new Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. And since it was an oddly social event for an entirely antisocial activity, I live tweeted the holiday until midnight. (The official rules called for a reading marathon from noon to 4 p.m., but real bookworms would hardly call four hours a “marathon.”)

The first thing I realized when I started reading was, uh, how long it had been since I had read anything for fun. I could tell because all my tweets looked like this:

And this:

And this:

That’s what happens when the only books you read are the ones you’re getting paid to copy edit, people. #LikeBeingInTheMatrix

Luckily, however, the tweets eventually shifted to this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

I admit it was weird documenting my reading process, even rabbit trails:

And sometimes all hell broke loose:

And then this happened:

But lost bookmark aside, National Readathon Day is a holiday I’m still thinking about weeks later and, even more importantly, a day I’m still reliving every free Saturday. Twenty-four hours dedicated to reading was the most meaningful holiday I’ve ever celebrated, and it was a lot like going to church. I finished Gone Girl and am just finishing Dark Places by Flynn. This backslidden reader is found.

In other news, National Readathon Day raised more than $100,000 for National Book Foundation’s literacy programs.


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