My Bookish Holidays

This is a guest post from Danika Ellis. Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books on tumblr and at the Lesbrary, as well as chatting about all sorts of bookish things on booktube. When she’s not immersed in the bookternet, she’s running the kids’ section in the largest used bookstore in Canada. Follow her on Twitter @danikaellis.

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I’m the type of the person who still gets excited about holidays as an adult. (Me and my roommates do easter egg hunts for each other.) But while I do look forward to Christmas and Halloween, as I’ve gotten older a few more bookish holidays have become the dates that I really count down to. I now have three bookish holidays, and I look forward to them all year.

Two of them are the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, held every April and October: 24 hours when book bloggers and other bookternet people read as much as they can in one day. It becomes a three day event for me: the day before is spent preparing snacks, premade meals and caffeinated beverages, and the day after is spent sleeping in and recuperating. The fun of the 24 hour readathon is twofold. One is that it makes reading a priority for the day. Usually I spend about an hour reading per day, but readathons make me realize how much I actually enjoy just sitting and reading for hours on end. It also shows just how many books I can get through in a day, if I make it a priority. I usually read the same amount in one readathon day as I would in average month. Also, snacks are a big part of the readathon experience, so that’s always a highlight.

The other component to the readathon is that it is basically a 24 hour reading party. Hundreds of people update their hourly reading progress on blogs, Goodreads, twitter, etc, and then cheer each other on and do fun mini-challenges for book prizes. It’s this enormous celebration of reading, and it makes me feel submerged in this giant welcoming bookish community. It’s the perfect combination of books and internet. So even when I’m taking a break from reading, I’m cheering on other readathoners and still participating in this party atmosphere. I look forward to it all year and my boss is now very familiar with an availability email that cites “READATHON!” as a reason that I am asking for a day off.

My other bookish holiday is even more exciting. Every year, the city I live in has a massive book sale. The local newspaper hosts it to raise money for literacy, and it is a big event. Hundreds of thousands of books are donated, and they’re all priced at $1 for pocket paperbacks, $2 for trade paperbacks, and $3 for hardcovers. People line up around the block for this sale. Book collectors show up the night before to get first dibs. A few of my friends and I usually get there about 5 am for the 9am opening (and we’re about 20th in line). Once the doors open, it’s chaos. There are long tables stacked with boxes of books, with seemingly endless boxes stored under the tables, waiting for room to go out. They have to cap the amount of people let in at a time, and you’re often shoulder-to-shoulder looking for books.

For the last few years I’ve gone with the used bookstore I work for, and I scour the children’s section. It’s such a great sense of the thrill of the hunt (and the thrill of getting to spend someone else’s money on books), but it can also be overwhelming. Kids run around your knees while teachers snap up books at lightning speed, stocking up on books for the rest of the year.

Again, though, it’s the feeling of a giant celebration of books that really makes the book sale a memorable experience. Seeing how many people are that excited about books is so comforting. It makes me feel like I’m with my people. And waiting in line with my friends, sharing lists so that we can collectively hunt out books for each other, is one of the things I look forward to the most. (Though I usually temporarily forget that when I have to wake up at 4am.)

Do you have any bookish holidays you look forward to in the year? Does your city have any big bookish events? I would love to add more literary holidays to my calendar.

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