The Hippo


May 28, 2020








National Readathon

When: Saturday, Jan. 24, from noon to 4 p.m.
Where: You can participate everywhere, but the two NH venues are Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, and the Lincoln Public Library (22 Church St., Lincoln, 745-8159)
Fundraiser: The event is also a fundraiser for the National Book Foundation. Donate at
Stuck on what to read?
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams (Recommended by Katharine Nevins.)
 I don’t know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When you Shouldn’t) by Leah Hager Cohen (Recommended by Katharine Nevins.)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Recommended by Katharine Nevins.)
• All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Recommended by Brian Woodbury, Steph Kiper Schmidt. Said Schmidt, “It’s a beautiful story that begins between the first and second World Wars, set in Paris, where a blind girl lives with her father, the key keeper at the natural history museum, and a home in Germany for orphaned children, where a boy finds a radio that changes his life.”)
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Recommended by Regina Barnes, Toadstool Bookshop of Milford.)
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Recommended by Steph Kiper Schmidt, who said, “It is the delightful story of a bookstore ​on an island off the coast of Cape Cod and AJ Fikry, the man who owns it. He’s in his own little bubble of books and grumpiness until a rare volume by Poe is stolen from his store, and a baby shows up on the island, alone and in need of help.”)
 • The Martian by Andy Weir (Recommended by Brian Woodbury, Steph Kiper Schmidt. Said Schmidt, “The Martian is totally compelling, surprisingly moving, and a lot funnier than you’d expect a book about a man trapped on Mars to be!”)

Four hours of prose
How to participate in National Readathon Day

By Kelly Sennott

If you walk into Gibson’s Bookstore Saturday, Jan. 24, between noon and 4 p.m., you’re likely to meet a bit of an unusual scene for the big bookstore, which on weekends is often bustling with cafe visitors and authors’ events galore. People will be reading — not aloud, not to guests — but to themselves, in silence, four hours straight. 

The bookstore is a participant in the inaugural National Readathon Day, organized by the National Book Foundation, GoodReads, Mashable and Penguin Random House. It’s from noon to 4 p.m. in each respective time zone, and you can do it anywhere. To participate is easy; just read non-stop during the allocated time period.
The event is being held to promote reading among all ages, and also to raise awareness of literacy problems in the United States; according to the NRD site, 40 percent of American adults are at or below basic reading proficiency, and 14 percent are fully illiterate.
Gibson’s bookseller Ryan Foley is organizing the event in Concord that day. She likes the message of NRD.
“It’s getting people reading and bringing some awareness about the troubles with literacy in the country,” said Foley, who, during NRD, will be trying to finish George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords (the third book in the series that the HBO show Game of Thrones is based on). By the illiteracy stats, “I was shocked. I had no idea it was an issue. I never really thought about it because I was always surrounded by people who devoured literature.”
The Gibson’s event will be relatively low-key to emphasize what the Readathon is promoting — actually sitting down and reading a book with no distractions.
Why read books? Delia Ephron (screenwriter for You’ve Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) said during the NRD promotional video, “If you don’t read, your brain will rot.” Added Khaled Housseini (The Kite Runner): “For a little while, while you’re reading this book, you kind of leave your own world, leave your own space, and inhabit somebody else’s soul.”
Local booksellers provided insight too.
“It opens people up to empathy and understanding of the world, and it provokes questioning of the world. If you can instill that in children and get them to love [reading] and not have it turned off at some point, we’re doing what we can to bring adults in the world who can take over,” said Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. 
Said Steph Kiper Schmidt, events coordinator/bookseller at Water Street Bookstore, “I read to be dazzled by the way words and sentences and stories are put together. To read about places I’ve never been and history I’ve never learned about. To be surprised and delighted by the way some writers just get people and the human heart.”
And Brian Woodbury, bookseller at the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford: “At its root, it’s the base of your learning period. It’s something that’s instilled from childhood right on up. … Books can do so many different things. They can be educational, inspirational, and they can provide escapism.” 
As seen in the January 22, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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