So, yes, I know – the Olympics are finished already, so this is no longer an on-theme post, but there was lag, okay? It took me several nights of watching astonishingly gripping women’s rugby sevens games (I am not a person who watches sport at all, so I was a little bewildered by just how invested I was in the sevens, but the Black Ferns were awesome), and having my shoulders hurt just watching the gymnastics, and pining to go swimming while watching the diving, before I realised there was a blog post in it all.
Not about the Olympics themselves, obviously. That would make too much sense.
No, this is the booklover’s Olympics, which, while possibly not as physically demanding, is just as … well, not at all as mentally or emotionally demanding, either. I mean, depending on the book. Some of them can be pretty testing. And anyone who reads hardbacks knows the weight of those things when you’re trying to read in bed.
But .. well, yeah. Entirely unlike the Olympics. But on to the events anyway!
The marathon. Choose a series. A long series. Maybe Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, or George R R Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire. Although, that one’s not finished, so that might be tricky. Or is it finished? I lost track. I did read the first few books, but it appears I am not marathon standard. You could also go classic here – get hold of Don Quixote or The Iliad and The Odyssey. Whatever it is – make sure it’s long. Settle in. You’ll need snacks to keep up your energy, and drinks to stay hydrated. Choose your location carefully – bed may be a little too comfortable, as snoozing is an instant disqualification. The sofa may be an option, or the dining table, but resist the advances of those who would like to watch TV or eat a meal. You are immovable. You’re in this for the long haul. Stay strong.
NB: Toilet breaks are permitted, obviously, but penalty points will be deducted for more than one per hour.
The speedreading event. A set text will be distributed to you and your fellow competitors, and it’s a race to finish. A discussion will follow in which you’ll have to prove that you actually read it and didn’t just sneak a look at the blurb. Extra points will go to best recall of actual passages, best interpretation of the themes through the medium of song, not completing due to becoming too invested in the story and slowing down, and wildest misunderstanding of the entire event.
There are variations within this event, depending on your location and access to large (or small) bodies of water. For those of you participating from summer climes with ready access to a pool, lake, or the sea, apply liberal amounts of sunblock, add a rash guard and hat, and proceed immediately into the water. The use of a flotation device is permitted, and the competitors are also allowed to remain in shallow water, but the body must be fully immersed, and the book must be held aloft, unsupported. Commence reading. The last to dip their pages wins.
For those without ready access to a large body of water, or currently in winter weather, a bath may be used. If a bath is lacking, fill a large bowl or sink with water. One part of the body – hand, foot, elbow – even face, for those with a clear bucket and goggles – must remain immersed at all times, and the book must be held aloft. The competition is over when you put the book down. And don’t forget to hold your breath.
NB It’s advisable not to use an e-reader for this event. Or a particularly favourite book.
Competitors will stand next to their bookshelves while a friend or family member stacks books in their arms until they can hold no more. The event is judged both on how many books are able to be held, and how long for. Extra points are awarded for the careful placement of the book stack on the ground at the end of the event, rather than an uncontrolled drop. Points are deducted for any damage sustained to the books.
NB Please ensure all small children and animals are kept at a safe distance. And please ask bystanders to refrain from tickling the competitor. That’s a whole different event.
This is a freestyle event, in which competitors may demonstrate their most challenging reading positions. Points are awarded for inventive use of the space and furniture available, comfort, and ability to remain in position for long periods of time. However, books must actually be read, and pages must be able to be turned. Looking at you, handstand enthusiasts.
NB Please do not use pets or family members as props. There were complaints last time.
A deceptively straightforward event, this requires competitors to continue reading while well-meaning family, friends, acquaintances and strangers approach them with questions, requests, and amusing anecdotes. Points are deducted for looking up from the page, re-reading the same sentence multiple times, loss of average reading pace, inability to recall what you’ve just read, and responses of more than one syllable.
NB Throwing the book at the distractor is grounds for immediate disqualification, despite the inarguable degree of satisfaction involved.
A group event, this will require actually interacting with other competitors and bookshop owners. Form a band of local competitors and establish a route through all local new and secondhand bookshops. A list of books to be acquired will be provided, including: one paperback with a half-naked man on the front; one very old hardback with a dedication to someone’s pet hand-written in the front; one book of obscure poetry by someone with a title, preferably with at least one sonnet to the moon; one children’s book with suspicious bite marks on the corner; one celebrity memoir found in the bargain bin; two books claiming entirely conflicting advice on how to get rich/thin/young; one hot beverage; one baked good; and two complimentary bookmarks.
All bags must be carried by the competitors themselves, and extra points will be awarded for becoming distracted while searching and emerging with five unassigned books and the loss of three hours.
Having written this, I really want to compete. Anyone in? Any other events you’d like to add? Let me know below!